Part 7 out of 7
the old merchant when Mr. Jackson and I called upon him was a thing to
be remembered. He indorsed, with warm approbation, the declaration
of the reverend gentleman who professed his willingness to send his
mother or brother into slavery, if the laws of the United States
"If our friend Mr. Bright was with us, he would say the Lord took him
at his word," rejoined Mr. Blumenthal, smiling.
An earnest discussion ensued concerning the possibilities of the case,
and several days were spent in active investigation. But all the
additional light obtained was from a sailor, who had been one of the
boat's crew that conveyed the fugitives to the islands in the harbor;
and all he could tell was that he heard them call each other George
and Henry. When he was shown a colored photograph, which Gerald had
just had taken for his Rose-mother, he at once said that was the one
"This poor fellow must be rescued," said Mr. King, after they returned
from their unsatisfactory conference with the sailor. "Mr. Bell may
know who purchased him, and a conversation with him seems to be the
"Judging by my own experience, your task is not to be envied,"
rejoined Mr. Percival. "He will be in a tremendous rage. But perhaps
the lesson will do him good. I remember Francis Jackson said at the
time, that if his dark-complexioned grandson should be sent into
slavery, it might bring him to a realizing sense of the state of
things he was doing his utmost to encourage."
The undertaking did indeed seem more formidable to Mr. King than
anything he had yet encountered; but true to his sense of duty he
resolved to go bravely through with it.
The old merchant received Mr. King with marked politeness; for though
he suspected him of anti-slavery proclivities, and despised him for
that weakness, he had great respect for a man whose name was as good
as gold, and who was the father of such an eligible match as Eulalia.
After some discursive conversation, Mr. King said, "I am desirous to
tell you a short story, if you will have patience to listen to it."
"Certainly, sir," replied the old gentleman.
His visitor accordingly began by telling of Mr. Royal's having formed
one of those quadroon alliances so common in New Orleans; of his
having died insolvent; and of his two handsome octoroon daughters
having been claimed as slaves by his creditors.
"What the deuce do you suppose I care about his octoroon daughters?"
interrupted Mr. Bell, impatiently. "I wasn't one of his creditors."
"Perhaps you will take some interest in it," rejoined Mr. King,
"when I tell you that the eldest of them was married to Mr. Gerald
Fitzgerald of Savannah, and that she is still living."
"Do you mean the Mr. Fitzgerald who married my daughter Lily?"
"I do mean him," was the response.
"It's false," vociferated Mr. Bell, growing almost purple in the face.
"No, sir, it is not false," replied Mr. King. "But you need not be so
much excited. The first marriage did not render the second illegal;
first, because a sham ceremony was performed to deceive the
inexperienced girl; and secondly, because, according to the laws of
the South, any marriage with a slave, however sanctified by religious
forms, is utterly void in law."
"I consider such a law a very wise provision," replied the merchant.
"It is necessary to prevent the inferior race from being put on an
equality with their superiors. The negroes were made to be servants,
sir. _You_ may be an advocate for amalgamation, but I am not."
"I would simply ask you to observe that the law you so much approve is
not a preventive of amalgamation. Mr. Fitzgerald married the daughter
of the quadroon. The only effect of the law was to deprive her of a
legal right to his support and protection, and to prevent her son from
receiving any share of his father's property. By another Southern law,
that 'the child shall follow the condition of the mother,' her son
became a slave."
"Well, sir, what interest do you suppose I can take in all this?"
interrupted the merchant. "It's nothing to me, sir. The South is
competent to make her own laws."
Mr. King begged his attention a little longer. He then proceeded to
tell how Mr. Fitzgerald had treated the octoroon, at the time of his
marriage with Miss Bell; that he had subsequently sold her to a very
base man, in payment of a debt; that she, terrified and bewildered
by the prospect of such a fate, had, in a moment of frantic revenge,
changed her babe for his daughter's; and that consequently the Gerald
he had been educating as his grandson was in fact the son of the
octoroon, and born a slave.
"Really, sir," said Mr. Bell, with a satirical smile, "that story
might sell for something to a writer of sensation novels; but I
should hardly have expected to hear it from a sensible gentleman like
yourself. Pray, on whose testimony do you expect me to believe such an
"On that of the mother herself," replied Mr. King.
With a very contemptuous curl of his lip, Mr. Bell answered: "And
you really suppose, do you, that I can be induced to disinherit my
grandson on the testimony of a colored woman? Not I, sir. Thank God, I
am not infected with this negro mania."
"But you have not asked who the woman is," rejoined Mr. King; "and
without knowing that, you cannot judge candidly of the value of her
"I don't ask, because I don't care," replied the merchant. "The
negroes are a lying set, sir; and I am no Abolitionist, that I should
go about retailing their lies."
Mr. King looked at him an instant, and then answered, very calmly:
"The mother of that babe, whose word you treat so contemptuously, is
Mrs. King, my beloved and honored wife."
The old merchant was startled from his propriety; and, forgetful of
the gout in his feet, he sprung from his chair, exclaiming, "The
Mr. King, without noticing the abrupt exclamation, went on to relate
in detail the manner of his first introduction to Miss Royal, his
compassion for her subsequent misfortunes, his many reasons for
believing her a pure and noble woman, and the circumstances which
finally led to their marriage. He expressed his conviction that the
children had been changed in a fit of temporary insanity, and dwelt
much on his wife's exceeding anxiety to atone for the wrong, as far as
possible. "I was ignorant of the circumstance," said he, "until the
increasing attraction between Gerald and Eulalia made an avowal
necessary. It gives me great pain to tell you all this; but I thought
that, under a reverse of circumstances, I should myself prefer to know
the facts. I am desirous to do my utmost to repair the mischief done
by a deserted and friendless woman, at a moment when she was crazed
by distress and terror; a woman, too, whose character I have abundant
reason to love and honor. If you choose to disinherit Gerald, I will
provide for his future as if he were my own son; and I will repay with
interest all the expense you have incurred for him. I hope that this
affair may be kept secret from the world, and that we may amicably
settle it, in such a way that no one will be materially injured."
Somewhat mollified by this proposal, the old gentleman inquired in a
milder tone, "And where is the young man who you say is my daughter's
"Until very recently he was supposed to be dead," rejoined Mr. King;
"and unfortunately that circumstance led my wife to think there was
no need of speaking to me concerning this affair at the time of our
marriage. But we now have reason to think he may be living; and that
is why I have particularly felt it my duty to make this unpleasant
revelation." After repeating Tulee's story, he said, "You probably
have not forgotten that last winter two slaves escaped to Boston in
your ship 'The King Cotton'?"
The old merchant started as if he had been shot.
"Try not to be agitated," said Mr. King. "If we keep calm, and assist
each other, we may perhaps extricate ourselves from this disagreeable
dilemma, without any very disastrous results. I have but one reason
for thinking it possible there may be some connection between the lost
babe and one of the slaves whom you sent back to his claimant. The two
babes were very nearly of an age, and so much alike that the exchange
passed unnoticed; and the captain of 'The King Cotton' told Gerald
that the eldest of those slaves resembled him so much that he should
not know them apart."
Mr. Bell covered his face and uttered a deep groan. Such distress in
an old man powerfully excited Mr. King's sympathy; and moving near to
him, he placed his hand on his and said: "Don't be so much troubled,
sir. This is a bad affair, but I think it can be so managed as to do
no very serious harm. My motive in coming to you at this time is to
ascertain whether you can furnish me with any clew to that young man.
I will myself go in search of him, and I will take him to Europe and
have him educated in a manner suitable to his condition, as your
descendant and the heir of your property."
The drawn expression of the old merchant's mouth was something painful
to witness. It seemed as if every nerve was pulled to its utmost
tension by the excitement in his soul. He obviously had to make a
strong effort to speak when he said, "Do you suppose, sir, that a
merchant of my standing is going to leave his property to negroes?"
"You forget that this young man is pure Anglo-Saxon," replied Mr.
"I tell you, sir," rejoined Mr. Bell, "that the mulatto who was with
him was his wife; and if he is proved to be my grandson, I'll never
see him, nor have anything to do with him, unless he gives her up;
not if you educate him with the Prince Royal of France or England. A
pretty dilemma you have placed me in, sir. My property, it seems, must
either go to Gerald, who you say has negro blood in his veins, or to
this other fellow, who is a slave with a negro wife."
"But she could be educated in Europe also," pleaded Mr. King; "and I
could establish him permanently in lucrative business abroad. By this
"Go to the Devil with your arrangements!" interrupted the merchant,
losing all command of himself. "If you expect to arrange a pack of
mulatto heirs for _me_, you are mistaken, sir."
He rose up and struck his chair upon the floor with a vengeance, and
his face was purple with rage, as he vociferated: "I'll have legal
redress for this, sir. I'll expose your wife, sir. I'll lay my damages
at a million, sir."
Mr. King bowed and said, "I will see you again when you are more
As he went out, he heard Mr. Bell striding across the room and
thrashing the furniture about. "Poor old gentleman!" thought he. "I
hope I shall succeed in convincing him how little I value money in
comparison with righting this wrong, as far as possible. Alas! it
would never have taken place had there not been a great antecedent
wrong; and that again grew out of the monstrous evil of slavery."
He had said to the old merchant, "I will see you again when you are
calmer." And when he saw him again, he was indeed calm, for he had
died suddenly, of a fit produced by violent excitement.
A few weeks after the funeral of Mr. Bell, Gerald wrote the following
letter to Mr. King:--
"My honored and dear Friend,--Lily-mother has decided to go to Europe
this fall, that I may have certain educational advantages which she
has planned for me. That is the only reason she assigns; but she is
evidently nervous about your investigations, and I think a wish to be
out of the country for the present has had some effect in producing
this decision. I have not sought to influence her concerning this, or
the other important point you wot of. My desire is to conform to her
wishes, and promote her happiness in any way she chooses. This it is
my duty as well as my pleasure to do. She intends to remain in Europe
a year, perhaps longer. I wish very much to see you all; and Eulalia
might well consider me a very impolite acquaintance, if I should go
without saying good by. If you do not return to Boston before we
sail, I will, with your permission, make a short call upon you in
Northampton. I thank Rose-mother for her likeness. It will be very
precious to me. I wish you would add your own and another; for
wherever my lot may be cast, you three will always be among my dearest
"I am glad of this arrangement," said Mr. King. "At their age, I hope
a year of separation will prove sufficient."
The Rose-mother covered the wound in her heart, and answered, "Yes,
it is best." But the constrained tone of the letter pained her, and
excited her mind to that most unsatisfactory of all occupations, the
thinking over what might have been. She had visions of her first-born
son, as he lay by her side a few hours before Chloe carried him away
from her sight; and then there rose before her the fair face of that
other son, whose pretty little body was passing into the roses of
Provence. Both of them had gone out of her life. Of one she received
no tidings from the mysterious world of spirits; while the other was
walking within her vision, as a shadow, the reality of which was
Mr. King returned to Boston with his family in season for Gerald
to make the proposed call before he sailed. There was a little
heightening of color when he and Eulalia met, but he had drilled
himself to perform the part of a polite acquaintance; and as she
thought she had been rather negligently treated of late, she was cased
in the armor of maidenly reserve.
Both Mr. and Mrs. King felt it to be an arduous duty to call on Mrs.
Fitzgerald. That lady, though she respected their conscientiousness,
could not help disliking them. They had disturbed her relations with
Gerald, by suggesting the idea of another claim upon his affections;
and they had offended her pride by introducing the vulgar phantom of
a slave son to haunt her imagination. She was continually jealous of
Mrs. King; so jealous, that Gerald never ventured to show her the
likeness of his Rose-mother. But though the discerning eyes of Mr. and
Mrs. King read this in the very excess of her polite demonstrations,
other visitors who were present when they called supposed them to be
her dearest friends, and envied her the distinguished intimacy.
Such formal attempts at intercourse only increased the cravings of
Rosa's heart, and Mr. King requested Gerald to grant her a private
interview. Inexpressibly precious were these few stolen moments, when
she could venture to call him son, and hear him call her mother. He
brought her an enamelled locket containing some of his hair, inscribed
with the word "Gerald"; and she told him that to the day of her death
she would always wear it next her heart. He opened a small morocco
case, on the velvet lining of which lay a lily of delicate silver
"Here is a little souvenir for Eulalia," said he.
Her eyes moistened as she replied, "I fear it would not be prudent, my
He averted his face as he answered: "Then give it to her in my
mother's name. It will be pleasant to me to think that my sister is
* * * * *
A few days after Gerald had sailed for Europe, Mr. King started for
New Orleans, taking with him his wife and daughter. An auctioneer was
found, who said he had sold to a gentleman in Natchez a runaway slave
named Bob Bruteman, who strongly resembled the likeness of Gerald.
They proceeded to Natchez and had an interview with the purchaser, who
recognized a likeness between his slave Bob and the picture of
Gerald. He said he had made a bad bargain of it, for the fellow was
intelligent and artful, and had escaped from him two months ago. In
answer to his queries, Mr. King stated that, if Bob was the one he
supposed, he was a white man, and had friends who wished to redeem
him; but as the master had obtained no clew to the runaway, he could
of course give none. So their long journey produced no result, except
the satisfaction of thinking that the object of their interest had
escaped from slavery.
It had been their intention to spend the coldest months at the South,
but a volcano had flared up all of a sudden at Harper's Ferry, and
boiling lava was rolling all over the land. Every Northern man who
visited the South was eyed suspiciously, as a possible emissary of
John Brown; and the fact that Mr. King was seeking to redeem a runaway
slave was far from increasing confidence in him. Finding that silence
was unsatisfactory, and that he must either indorse slavery or
be liable to perpetual provocations to quarrel, he wrote to Mr.
Blumenthal to have their house in readiness for their return; an
arrangement which Flora and her children hailed with merry shouts and
clapping of hands.
When they arrived, they found their house as warm as June, with Flora
and her family there to receive them, backed by a small army of
servants, consisting of Tulee, with her tall son and daughter, and
little Benny, and Tom and Chloe; all of whom had places provided
for them, either in the household or in Mr. King's commercial
establishment. Their tropical exuberance of welcome made him smile.
When the hearty hand-shakings were over, he said to his wife, as they
passed into the parlor, "It really seemed as if we were landing on the
coast of Guinea with a cargo of beads."
"O Alfred," rejoined she, "I am so grateful to you for employing them
all! You don't know, and never _can_ know, how I feel toward these
dusky friends; for you never had them watch over you, day after day,
and night after night, patiently and tenderly leading you up from the
valley of the shadow of death."
He pressed her hand affectionately, and said, "Inasmuch as they did it
for you, darling, they did it for me."
This sentiment was wrought into their daily deportment to their
servants; and the result was an harmonious relation between employer
and employed, which it was beautiful to witness. But there are
skeletons hidden away in the happiest households. Mrs. King had hers,
and Tom and Chloe had theirs. The death of Mr. Bell and the absence of
Mrs. Fitzgerald left no one in Boston who would be likely to recognize
them; but they knew that the Fugitive Slave Act was still in force,
and though they relied upon Mr. King's generosity in case of
emergency, they had an uncomfortable feeling of not being free. It was
not so with Tulee. She had got beyond Mount Pisgah into the Canaan of
freedom; and her happiness was unalloyed. Mr. King, though kind and
liberal to all, regarded her with especial favor, on account of old
associations. The golden hoops had been taken from her ears when she
was in the calaboose; but he had presented her with another pair, for
he liked to have her look as she did when she opened for him that door
in New Orleans, which had proved an entrance to the temple and palace
of his life. She felt herself to be a sort of prime minister in the
small kingdom, and began to deport herself as one having authority.
No empress ever had more satisfaction in a royal heir than she had in
watching her Benny trudging to school, with his spelling-book slung
over his shoulder, in a green satchel Mrs. King had made for him. The
stylishness of the establishment was also a great source of pride to
her; and she often remarked in the kitchen that she had always said
gold was none too good for Missy Rosy to walk upon. Apart from this
consideration, she herself had an Oriental delight in things that were
lustrous and gayly colored. Tom had learned to read quite fluently,
and was accustomed to edify his household companions with chapters
from the Bible on Sunday evenings. The descriptions of King Solomon's
splendor made a lively impression on Tulee's mind. When she dusted
the spacious parlors, she looked admiringly at the large mirrors, the
gilded circles of gas lights, and the great pictures framed in crimson
and gold, and thought that the Temple of Solomon could not have been
more grand. She could scarcely believe Mrs. Delano was wealthy. "She's
a beautiful lady," said she to Flora; "but if she's got plenty o'
money, what makes her dress so innocent and dull? There's Missy Rosy
now, when _she_'s dressed for company, she looks like the Queen of
One morning Tulee awoke to look out upon a scene entirely new to her
Southern eyes, and far surpassing anything she had imagined of the
splendor of Solomon's Temple. On the evening previous, the air had
been full of mist, which, as it grew colder, had settled on the trees
of the Common, covering every little twig with a panoply of ice. A
very light snow had fallen softly during the night, and sprinkled the
ice with a feathery fleece. The trees, in this delicate white vesture,
standing up against a dark blue sky, looked like the glorified spirits
of trees. Here and there, the sun touched them, and dropped a shower
of diamonds. Tulee gazed a moment in delighted astonishment, and ran
to call Chloe, who exclaimed, "They looks like great white angels, and
Ise feared they'll fly away 'fore Missis gits up."
Tulee was very impatient for the sound of Mrs. King's bell, and as
soon as the first tinkle was heard she rushed into her dressing-room,
exclaiming, "O, do come to the window, Missy Rosy! Sure this is silver
Rosa was no less surprised when she looked out upon that wonderful
vision of the earth, in its transfigured raiment of snow-glory. "Why,
Tulee," said she, "it is diamond land. I've seen splendid fairy scenes
in the theatres of Paris, but never anything so brilliant as this."
"I used to think the woods down South, all covered with jess'mines,
was the beautifullest thing," responded Tulee; "but, Lors, Missy
Rosy, this is as much handsomer as Solomon's Temple was handsomer than
But neither the indoor nor the outdoor splendor, nor all the personal
comforts they enjoyed, made this favored band of colored people
forgetful of the brethren they had left in bondage. Every word about
John Brown was sought for and read with avidity. When he was first
taken captive, Chloe said: "The angel that let Peter out o' prison
ha'n't growed old an' hard o' hearing. If we prays loud enough, he'll
go and open the doors for old John Brown."
Certainly, it was not for want of the colored people's praying loud
and long enough, that the prisoner was not supernaturally delivered.
They did not relinquish the hope till the 2d of December: and when
that sad day arrived, they assembled in their meeting-house to watch
and pray. All was silent, except now and then an occasional groan,
till the hands of the clock pointed to the moment of the martyr's exit
from this world. Then Tom poured forth his soul in a mighty voice of
prayer, ending with the agonized entreaty, "O Lord, thou hast taken
away our Moses. Raise us up a Joshua!" And all cried, "Amen!"
Chloe, who had faith that could walk the stormiest waves, spoke words
of fervent cheer to the weeping congregation.
"I tell ye they ha'n't killed old John Brown," said she; "'cause they
_couldn't_ kill him. The angel that opened the prison doors for Peter
has let him out, and sent him abroad in a different way from what we
'spected; that's all."
Through the following year, the political sky grew ever darker with
impending clouds, crinkled with lightning, and vocal with growlings of
approaching thunder. The North continued to make servile concessions,
which history will blush to record; but they proved unavailing.
The arrogance of slaveholders grew by what it fed on. Though a
conscientious wish to avoid civil war mingled largely with the
selfishness of trade, and the heartless gambling of politicians, all
was alike interpreted by them as signs of Northern cowardice. At
last, the Sumter gun was heard booming through the gathering storm.
Instantly, the air was full of starry banners, and Northern pavements
resounded with the tramp of horse and the rolling of artillery wagons.
A thrill of patriotic enthusiasm kindled the souls of men. No more
sending back of slaves. All our cities became at once cities of
refuge; for men had risen above the letter of the Constitution into
the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.
Gerald and his Lily-mother arrived in New York to find the social
atmosphere all aglow. Under its exciting influence, he wrote to Mr.
"Yesterday, I informed you of our arrival; and now I write to tell
you that they are forming a regiment here to march to the defence of
Washington, and I have joined it. Lily-mother was unwilling at
first. But a fine set of fellows are joining,--all first-class young
gentlemen. I told Lily-mother she would be ashamed to have me loiter
behind the sons of her acquaintance, and that Mr. Seward said it was
only an affair of sixty days. So she has consented. I enclose a letter
to Rose-mother, to ask her blessing on my enterprise, which I am quite
sure I shall have, together with your own."
Thus, with the unreflecting exhilaration of youth, Gerald went forth
to the war, as light of heart as if he had been joining a boat-race or
a hunting excursion; so little did he comprehend that ferocious system
of despotism which was fastening its fangs on free institutions with
the death-grapple of a bloodhound.
For the next two months, his letters, though hurried, were frequent,
and always cheerful; mostly filled with trifling gossipings about
camp-life, and affectionate remembrances to those he had left behind.
At last, Mr. King received one of graver import, which ran thus:--
"I have met with a strange adventure. A number of us were on picket
duty, with orders to keep a sharp lookout. We went pacing back and
forth on our allotted ground, now passing under the shadow of trees,
now coming out into the moonlight. I walked very erect, feeling myself
every inch a soldier. Sometimes I cast scrutinizing glances into
groups of shrubbery, and sometimes I gazed absently on the sparkling
Potomac, while memory was retracing the events of my life, and
recalling the dear ones connected with them. Just as I reached a large
tree which formed the boundary of my prescribed course, the next
sentinel, whose walk began where mine ended, approached the same tree,
and before he turned again we met face to face for an instant. I
started, and I confess to a momentary feeling of superstition; for I
thought I had seen myself; and that, you know, is said to be a warning
of approaching death. He could not have seen me very plainly, for I
was in shadow, while he for an instant was clearly revealed by the
moonlight. Anxious to be sure whether I had seen a vision or a
reality, when I again approached the tree I waited for him; and a
second time I saw such a likeness of myself as I never saw excepting
in the mirror. He turned quickly, and marched away with military
promptitude and precision. I watched him for a moment, as his erect
figure alternately dipped into shadow and emerged into light. I need
not tell you what I was thinking of while I looked; for you can easily
conjecture. The third time we met, I said, 'What is your name?' He
replied, 'George Falkner,' and marched away. I write on a drumhead, in
a hurry. As soon as I can obtain a talk with this duplicate of myself,
I will write to you again. But I shall not mention my adventure to
Lily-mother. It would only make her unhappy."
Another letter, which arrived a week after, contained merely the
following paragraph on the subject that interested them most:--
"We soldiers cannot command our own movements or our time. I have been
able to see G.F. but once, and then our interview was brief. He seemed
very reserved about himself. He says he came from New York; but his
speech is Southern. He talks about 'toting' things, and says he
'disremembers,' I shall try to gain his confidence, and perhaps I
shall be able to draw him out."
A fortnight later he wrote:--
"I have learned from G.F. that the first thing he remembers of himself
is living with an old negress, about ten miles from New Orleans, with
eight other children, of various shades, but none so white as himself.
He judges he was about nine years old when he was carried to New
Orleans, and let out by a rich man named Bruteman to a hotel-keeper,
to black boots, do errands, &c. One of the children that the old
negress brought up with him was a mulatto named Henriet. The boys
called her Hen, he said. He used to 'tote' her about when she was a
baby, and afterward they used to roll in the mud, and make mud-pies
together. When Hen was twelve years old, she was let out to work in
the same hotel where he was. Soon afterward, Mr. Bruteman put him out
to learn the carpenter's trade, and he soon became expert at it. But
though he earned five or six dollars a week, and finally nine or ten,
he never received any portion of it; except that now and then Mr.
Bruteman, when he counted his wages, gave him a fip. I never thought
of _this_ side of the question when I used to hear grandfather talk
about the rights of slaveholders; but I feel now, if this had been my
own case, I should have thought it confounded hard. He and Hen were
very young when they first begun to talk about being married; but he
couldn't bear the thoughts of bringing up a family to be slaves, and
they watched for an opportunity to run away. After several plans which
proved abortive, they went boldly on board 'The King Cotton,' he as a
white gentleman, and she disguised as his boy servant. You know how
that attempt resulted. He says they were kept two days, with hands and
feet tied, on an island that was nothing but rock. They suffered with
cold, though one of the sailors, who seemed kind-hearted, covered them
with blankets and overcoats. He probably did not like the business of
guarding slaves; for one night he whispered to G.F., 'Can't you swim?'
But George was very little used to the water, and Hen couldn't swim at
all. Besides, he said, the sailors had loaded guns, and some of them
would have fired upon them, if they had heard them plunge; and even
if by a miracle they had gained the shore, he thought they would be
seized and sent back again, just as they were in Boston.
"You may judge how I felt, while I listened to this. I wanted to ask
his forgiveness, and give him all my money, and my watch, and my ring,
and everything. After they were carried back, Hen was sold to the
hotel-keeper for six hundred dollars, and he was sold to a man in
Natchez for fifteen hundred. After a while, he escaped in a woman's
dress, contrived to open a communication with Hen, and succeeded in
carrying her off to New York. There he changed his woman's dress, and
his slave name of Bob Bruteman, and called himself George Falkner.
When I asked him why he chose that name, he rolled up his sleeve and
showed me G.F. marked on his arm. He said he didn't know who put them
there, but he supposed they were the initials of his name. He is
evidently impressed by our great resemblance. If he asks me directly
whether I can conjecture anything about his origin, I hardly know how
it will be best to answer. Do write how much or how little I ought to
say. Feeling unsafe in the city of New York, and being destitute of
money, he applied to the Abolitionists for advice. They sent him to
New Rochelle, where he let himself to a Quaker, called Friend Joseph
Houseman, of whom he hired a small hut. There, Hen, whom he now calls
Henriet, takes in washing and ironing, and there a babe has been born
to them. When the war broke out he enlisted; partly because he thought
it would help him to pay off some old scores with slaveholders, and
partly because a set of rowdies in the village of New Rochelle said he
was a white man, and threatened to mob him for living with a nigger
wife. While they were in New York city, he and Henriet were regularly
married by a colored minister. He said he did it because he hated
slavery and couldn't bear to live as slaves did. I heard him read a
few lines from a newspaper, and he read them pretty well. He says a
little boy, son of the carpenter of whom he learned his trade, gave
him some instruction, and he bought a spelling-book for himself.
He showed me some beef-bones, on which he practises writing with a
pencil. When he told me how hard he had tried to get what little
learning he had, it made me ashamed to think how many cakes and toys I
received as a reward for studying my spelling-book. He is teaching an
old negro, who waits upon the soldiers. It is funny to see how hard
the poor old fellow tries, and to hear what strange work he makes of
it. It must be 'that stolen waters are sweet,' or slaves would never
take so much more pains than I was ever willing to take to learn to
spell out the Bible. Sometimes I help G.F. with his old pupil; and I
should like to have Mrs. Blumenthal make a sketch of us, as I sit on
the grass in the shade of some tree, helping the old negro hammer his
syllables together. My New York companions laugh at me sometimes; but
I have gained great favor with G.F. by this proceeding. He is such
an ingenious fellow, that he is always in demand to make or mend
something. When I see how skilful he is with tools, I envy him. I
begin to realize what you once told me, and which did not please me
much at the time, that being a fine gentleman is the poorest calling a
man can devote himself to.
"I have written this long letter under difficulties, and at various
times. I have omitted many particulars, which I will try to remember
in my next. Enclosed is a note for Rose-mother. I hold you all in most
Soon after the reception of this letter, news came of the defeat at
Bull Run, followed by tidings that Gerald was among the slain. Mr.
King immediately waited upon Mrs. Fitzgerald to offer any services
that he could render, and it was agreed that he should forthwith
proceed to Washington with her cousin, Mr. Green. They returned with a
long wooden box, on which was inscribed Gerald's name and regiment. It
was encased in black walnut without being opened, for those who loved
him dreaded to see him, marred as he was by battle. It was carried to
Stone Chapel, where a multitude collected to pay the last honors to
the youthful soldier. A sheathed sword was laid across the coffin, on
which Mrs. Fitzgerald placed a laurel wreath. Just above it, Mrs. King
deposited a wreath of white roses, in the centre of which Eulalia
timidly laid a white lily. A long procession followed it to Mount
Auburn, with a band playing Beethoven's Funeral March. Episcopal
services were performed at the grave, which friends and relatives
filled with flowers; and there, by the side of Mr. Bell, the beautiful
young man was hidden away from human sight. Mr. King's carriage had
followed next to Mrs. Fitzgerald's; a circumstance which the public
explained by a report that the deceased was to have married his
daughter. Mrs. Fitzgerald felt flattered to have it so understood,
and she never contradicted it. After her great disappointment in her
husband, and the loss of her other children, all the affection she
was capable of feeling had centred in Gerald. But hers was not a deep
nature, and the world held great sway over it. She suffered acutely
when she first heard of her loss; but she found no small degree of
soothing compensation in the praises bestowed on her young hero, in
the pomp of his funeral, and the general understanding that he was
betrothed to the daughter of the quatro-millionnaire.
The depth of Mrs. King's sorrow was known only to Him who made the
heart. She endeavored to conceal it as far as possible, for she felt
it to be wrong to cast a shadow over the home of her husband and
daughter. Gerald's likeness was placed in her chamber, where she saw
it with the first morning light; but what were her reveries while she
gazed upon it was told to no one. Custom, as well as sincere sympathy,
made it necessary for her to make a visit of condolence to Mrs.
Fitzgerald. But she merely took her hand, pressed it gently, and said,
"May God comfort you." "May God comfort you, also," replied Mrs.
Fitzgerald, returning the pressure; and from that time henceforth the
name of Gerald was never mentioned between them.
After the funeral it was noticed that Alfred Blumenthal appeared
abstracted, as if continually occupied with grave thoughts. One day,
as he stood leaning against the window, gazing on the stars and
stripes that floated across the street, he turned suddenly and
exclaimed: "It is wrong to be staying here. I ought to be fighting for
that flag. I _must_ supply poor Gerald's place."
Mrs. Delano, who had been watching him anxiously, rose up and clasped
him round the neck, with stronger emotion than he had ever seen her
manifest. "_Must_ you go, my son?" she said.
He laid his hand very gently on her head as he replied: "Dearest
Mamita, you always taught me to obey the voice of duty; and surely it
is a duty to help in rescuing Liberty from the bloody jaws of this
She lingered an instant on his breast then, raising her tearful face,
she silently pressed his hand, while she looked into those kind and
honest eyes, that so strongly reminded her of eyes closed long
ago. "You are right, my son," murmured she; "and may God give you
Turning from her to hide the swelling of his own heart, Alfred saw
his mother sobbing on his father's bosom. "Dearest mamma," said he,
"Heaven knows it is hard for me. Do not make it harder."
"It takes the manhood out of him to see you weep, darling," said Mr.
Blumenthal. "Be a brave little woman, and cheerfully give your dearest
and best for the country."
She wiped her eyes, and, fervently kissing Alfred's hand, replied, "I
will. May God bless you, my dear, my only son!"
His father clasped the other hand, and said, with forced calmness:
"You are right, Alfred. God bless you! And now, dear Flora, let us
consecrate our young hero's resolution by singing the Battle Song of
She seated herself at the piano, and Mrs. Delano joined in with her
weak but very sweet voice, while they sang, "Father! I call on thee."
But when they came to the last verse, the voices choked, and the
piano became silent. Rosen Blumen and Lila came in and found them all
weeping; and when their brother pressed them in his arms and whispered
to them the cause of all this sorrow, they cried as if their hearts
were breaking. Then their mother summoned all her resolution, and
became a comforter. While their father talked to them of the nobility
and beauty of self-sacrifice, she kissed them and soothed them with
hopeful words. Then, turning to Mrs. Delano, she tenderly caressed her
faded hair, while she said: "Dearest Mamita, I trust God will restore
to us our precious boy. I will paint his picture as St. George slaying
the dragon, and you shall hang it in your chamber, in memory of what
he said to you."
Alfred, unable to control his emotions, hid himself in the privacy
of his own chamber. He struck his hand wildly against his forehead,
exclaiming, "O my country, great is the sacrifice I make for thee!"
Then, kneeling by the bed where he had had so many peaceful slumbers,
and dreamed so many pleasant dreams, he prayed fervently that God
would give him strength according to his need.
And so he went forth from his happy home, self-consecrated to the
cause of freedom. The women now had but one absorbing interest and
occupation. All were eager for news from the army, and all were busy
working for the soldiers.
When Mr. King returned from his mournful journey to Washington, he
said to his wife: "I saw George Falkner, and was pleased with him. His
resemblance to poor Gerald is wonderful. I could see no difference,
except a firmer expression of the mouth, which I suppose is owing to
his determined efforts to escape from slavery. Of course, he has not
Gerald's gracefulness; but his bearing seemed manly, and there was
no obvious stamp of vulgarity upon him. It struck me that his
transformation into a gentleman would be an easy process. I was glad
our interview was a hurried one, and necessarily taken up with details
about Gerald's death. It seems he carried him off in his own arms when
he was wounded, and that he did his utmost to stanch the blood. Gerald
never spoke after the bullet struck him, though he pressed his hand,
and appeared to try to say something. When he opened his vest to dress
the wound, he found this."
Rosa looked at it, groaned out, "Poor Gerald!" and covered her face.
It was the photograph of Eulalia, with the upper part shot away. Both
remained for some time with their heads bowed in silence.
After a while, Mr. King resumed: "In answer to Mr. Green's inquiries
concerning the mutilated picture, I replied that it was a likeness of
my daughter; and he answered that he had heard a marriage was thought
of between them. I was glad he happened to say that, for it will make
it seem natural to George that I should take a lively interest in him
on Gerald's account. The funeral, and Alfred's departure for the army,
have left me little time to arrange my thoughts on that subject. But I
have now formed definite plans, that I propose we should this evening
talk over at Blumenthal's."
When the sisters met, and the girls had gone to another room to talk
over their lessons, and imagine what Alfred was then doing, Mr. King
began to speak of George Falkner.
Rosa said: "My first wish is to go to New Rochelle and bring home
Henriet. She ought to be educated in a degree somewhat suitable to her
husband's prospects. I will teach her to read and write, and give her
lessons on the piano."
"I think that would prove too much for your finely attuned musical
nerves," rejoined her husband.
"Do you suppose you are going to make _all_ the sacrifices?" responded
she, smiling. "It isn't at all like you to wish to engross everything
"Rosa has a predilection for penance," remarked Flora; "and if she
listens daily to a beginner knocking the scales up hill and down hill,
I think it will answer instead of walking to Jerusalem with peas in
"Before I mention my plans, I should like to hear your view of the
subject, Blumenthal," said Mr. King.
His brother-in-law replied: "I think Rosa is right about taking charge
of Henriet and educating her. But it seems to me the worst thing you
could do for her or her husband would be to let them know that they
have a claim to riches. Sudden wealth is apt to turn the heads of much
older people than they are; and having been brought up as slaves,
their danger would be greatly increased. If Henriet could be employed
to sew for you, she might be gratified with easy work and generous
wages, while you watched over her morals, and furnished her with
opportunities to improve her mind. If George survives the war, some
employment with a comfortable salary might be provided for him, with
a promise to advance him according to his industry and general good
habits. How does that strike you, Mamita?"
"I agree perfectly with you," rejoined Mrs. Delano. "I think it would
be far more prudent to have their characters formed by habits of
exertion and self-reliance, before they are informed that they are
"It gratifies me to have my own judgment thus confirmed," said Mr.
King. "You have given the outlines of a plan I had already formed. But
this judicious process must not, of course, deprive the young man of a
single cent that is due to him. You are aware that Mr. Bell left fifty
thousand dollars to his grandson, to be paid when he was twenty-two
years of age. I have already invested that sum for George, and placed
it in the care of Mr. Percival, with directions that the interest
shall be added to it from that date. The remainder of Mr. Bell's
property, with the exception of some legacies, was unreservedly left
to his daughter. I have taken some pains to ascertain the amount, and
I shall add a codicil to my will leaving an equal sum to George. If
I survive Mrs. Fitzgerald, the interest on it will date from her
decease; and I shall take the best legal advice as to the means of
securing her property from any claims, by George or his heirs, after
they are informed of the whole story, as they will be whenever Mrs.
"You are rightly named Royal King," rejoined Mr. Blumenthal, "you do
things in such princely style."
"In a style better than that of most royal kings," replied he, "for
it is simply that of an honest man. If this entanglement had never
happened, I should have done as much for Gerald; and let me do what I
will, Eulalia will have more money than is good for her. Besides,
I rather expect this arrangement will prove a benefit to myself. I
intend to employ the young man as one of my agents in Europe; and if
he shows as much enterprise and perseverance in business as he did in
escaping from slavery, he will prove an excellent partner for me when
increasing years diminish my own energies. I would gladly adopt him,
and have him live with us; but I doubt whether such a great and sudden
change of condition would prove salutary, and his having a colored
wife would put obstructions in his way entirely beyond our power to
remove. But the strongest objection to it is, that such an arrangement
would greatly annoy Mrs. Fitzgerald, whose happiness we are bound to
consult in every possible way."
"Has she been informed that the young man is found?" inquired Mrs.
"No," replied Mr. King. "It occurred very near the time of Gerald's
death; and we deem it unkind to disturb her mind about it for some
months to come."
* * * * *
The next week, Mr. and Mrs. King started for New York, and thence
proceeded to New Rochelle. Following the directions they had received,
they hired a carriage at the steamboat-landing, to convey them to a
farm-house a few miles distant. As they approached the designated
place, they saw a slender man, in drab-colored clothes, lowering a
bucket into the well. Mr. King alighted, and inquired, "Is this Mr.
Houseman's farm, sir?"
"My name is Joseph Houseman," replied the Quaker. "I am usually called
Mr. King returned to the carriage, and saying, "This is the place,"
he assisted his lady to alight. Returning to the farmer, he said:
"We have come to ask you about a young colored woman, named Henriet
Falkner. Her husband rendered service to a dear young friend of ours
in the army, and we would be glad to repay the obligation by kindness
"Walk in," said the Quaker. He showed them into a neat, plainly
furnished parlor. "Where art thou from?" he inquired.
"From Boston," was the reply.
"What is thy name?"
"All men are called Mister," rejoined the Quaker. "What is thy given
"My name is Alfred Royal King; and this is my wife, Rosa King."
"Hast thou brought a letter from the woman's husband?" inquired Friend
"No," replied Mr. King. "I saw George Falkner in Washington, a
fortnight ago, when I went to seek the body of our young friend; but I
did not then think of coming here. If you doubt me, you can write
to William Lloyd Garrison or Wendell Phillips, and inquire of them
whether Alfred R. King is capable of deceiving."
"I like thy countenance, Friend Alfred, and I think thou art honest,"
rejoined the Quaker; "but where colored people are concerned, I have
known very polite and fair-spoken men to tell falsehoods."
Mr. King smiled as he answered: "I commend your caution, Friend
Joseph. I see how it is. You suspect we may be slaveholders in
disguise. But slaveholders are just now too busy seeking to destroy
this Republic to have any time to hunt fugitives; and when they have
more leisure, my opinion is they will find that occupation gone."
"I should have more hope of that," replied the farmer, "if there was
not so much pro-slavery here at the North. And thee knows that the
generals of the United States are continually sending back fugitive
slaves to bleed under the lash of their taskmasters."
"I honor your scruples, Friend Joseph," responded Mr. King; "and that
they may be completely removed, we will wait at the Metropolitan in
New York until you have received letters from Mr. Garrison and Mr.
Phillips. And lest you should think I may have assumed the name of
another, I will give you these to enclose in your letter." He opened
his pocket-book and took out two photographs.
"I shall ask to have them sent back to me," replied the farmer; "for
I should like to keep a likeness of thee and thy Rosa. They will be
pleasant to look upon. As soon as I receive an answer, Friend Alfred,
I will call upon thee at the Metropolitan."
"We shall be pleased to see you, Friend Joseph," said Rosa, with
one of her sweetest smiles, which penetrated the Quaker's soul, as
sunshine does the receptive earth. Yet, when the carriage had rolled
away, he harnessed his sleek horses to the wagon, and conveyed Henriet
and her babe to the house of a Friend at White Plains, till he
ascertained whether these stylish-looking strangers were what they
professed to be.
A few days afterward, Friend Joseph called at the Metropolitan. When
he inquired for the wealthy Bostonian, the waiter stared at his plain
dress, and said, "Your card, sir."
"I have no card," replied the farmer. "Tell him Friend Joseph wishes
to see him."
The waiter returned, saying, "Walk this way, sir," and showed him into
the elegant reception-room.
As he sat there, another servant, passing through, looked at him, and
said, "All gentlemen take off their hats in this room, sir."
"That may be," quietly replied the Quaker; "but all _men_ do not, for
thee sees I keep mine on."
The entrance of Mr. King, and his cordial salutation, made an
impression on the waiters' minds; and when Friend Joseph departed,
they opened the door very obsequiously.
The result of the conference was that Mr. and Mrs. King returned to
Boston with Henriet and her little one.
Tulee had proved in many ways that her discretion might be trusted;
and it was deemed wisest to tell her the whole story of the babe, who
had been carried to the calaboose with her when Mr. Bruteman's agent
seized her. This confidence secured her as a firm friend and ally
of Henriet, while her devoted attachment to Mrs. King rendered her
secrecy certain. When black Chloe saw the newcomer learning to play on
the piano, she was somewhat jealous because the same privilege had not
been offered to her children. "I didn't know Missy Rosy tought thar
war sech a mighty difference 'tween black an' brown," said she. "I
don't see nothin' so drefful pooty in dat ar molasses color."
"Now ye shut up," rejoined Tulee. "Missy Rosy knows what she's 'bout.
Ye see Mr. Fitzgerald was in love with Missy Eulaly; an' Henret's
husban' took care o' him when he was dying. Mr. King is going to send
him 'cross the water on some gran' business, to pay him for 't; and
Missy Rosy wants his wife to be 'spectable out there 'mong strangers."
Henriet proved good-natured and unassuming, and, with occasional
patronage from Tulee, she was generally able to keep her little boat
in smooth water.
When she had been there a few months Mr. King enclosed to Mrs.
Fitzgerald the letters Gerald had written about George; and a few days
afterward he called to explain fully what he had done, and what he
intended to do. That lady's dislike for her rival was much diminished
since there was no Gerald to excite her jealousy of divided affection.
There was some perturbation in her manner, but she received her
visitor with great politeness; and when he had finished his statement
she said: "I have great respect for your motives and your conduct;
and I am satisfied to leave everything to your good judgment and kind
feelings. I have but one request to make. It is that this young man
may never know he is my son."
"Your wishes shall be respected," replied Mr. King. "But he so
strongly resembles Gerald, that, if you should ever visit Europe
again, you might perhaps like to see him, if you only recognized him
as a relative of your husband."
The lady's face flushed as she answered promptly: "No, sir. I shall
never recognize any person as a relative who has a colored wife. Much
as I loved Gerald, I would never have seen him again if he had formed
such an alliance; not even if his wife were the most beautiful and
accomplished creature that ever walked the earth."
"You are treading rather closely upon _me_, Mrs. Fitzgerald," rejoined
Mr. King, smiling.
The lady seemed embarrassed, and said she had forgotten Mrs. King's
"Your son's wife is not so far removed from a colored ancestry as mine
is," rejoined Mr. King; "but I think you would soon forget her origin,
also, if you were in a country where others did not think of it. I
believe our American prejudice against color is one of what Carlyle
calls 'the phantom dynasties.'"
"It may be so," she replied coldly; "but I do not wish to be convinced
And Mr. King bowed good morning.
A week or two after this interview, Mrs. Fitzgerald called upon Mrs.
King; for, after all, she felt a certain sort of attraction in the
secret history that existed between them; and she was unwilling
to have the world suppose her acquaintance had been dropped by so
distinguished a lady. By inadvertence of the servant at the door, she
was shown into the parlor while Henriet was there, with her child on
the floor, receiving directions concerning some muslin flounces she
was embroidering. Upon the entrance of a visitor, she turned to take
up her infant and depart. But Mrs. King said, "Leave little Hetty
here, Mrs. Falkner, till you bring my basket for me to select the
floss you need."
Hetty, being thus left alone, scrambled up, and toddled toward Mrs.
King, as if accustomed to an affectionate reception. The black curls
that clustered round her yellow face shook, as her uncertain steps
hastened to a place of refuge; and when she leaned against her
friend's lap, a pretty smile quivered on her coral lips, and lighted
up her large dark eyes.
Mrs. Fitzgerald looked at her with a strange mixture of feelings.
"Don't you think she's a pretty little creature?" asked Mrs. King.
"She might be pretty if the yellow could be washed off," replied Mrs.
"Her cheeks are nearly the color of your hair," rejoined Mrs. King;
"and I always thought that beautiful."
Mrs. Fitzgerald glanced at the mirror, and sighed as she said: "Ah,
yes. My hair used to be thought very pretty when I was young; but I
can see that it begins to fade."
When Henriet returned and took the child, she looked at her very
curiously. She was thinking to herself, "What _would_ my father
say?" But she asked no questions, and made no remark.
She had joined a circle of ladies who were sewing and knitting for the
soldiers; and after some talk about the difficulty she had found in
learning to knit socks, and how fashionable it was for everybody to
knit now, she rose to take leave.
The months passed on, and brought ever-recurring demands for more
soldiers. Mr. King watched the progress of the struggle with the
One day, when he had seen a new regiment depart for the South, he
returned home in a still more serious mood than was now habitual to
him. After supper, he opened the Evening Transcript, and read for a
while. Then turning to his wife, who sat near him knitting for the
army, he said, "Dear Rosabella, during all the happy years that I have
been your husband, you have never failed to encourage me in every good
impulse, and I trust you will strengthen me now."
With a trembling dread of what was coming, she asked, "What is it,
"Rosa, this Republic _must_ be saved," replied he, with solemn
emphasis. "It is the day-star of hope to the toiling masses of the
world, and it _must_ not go out in darkness. It is not enough for me
to help with money. I ought to go and sustain our soldiers by cheering
words and a brave example. It fills me with shame and indignation when
I think that all this peril has been brought upon us by that foul
system which came so near making a wreck of _you_, my precious one, as
it has wrecked thousands of pure and gentle souls. I foresee that this
war is destined, by mere force of circumstances, to rid the Republic
of that deadly incubus. Rosa, are you not willing to give me up for
the safety of the country, and the freedom of your mother's race?"
She tried to speak, but utterance failed her. After a struggle with
herself, she said: "Do you realize how hard is a soldier's life? You
will break down under it, dear Alfred; for you have been educated in
ease and luxury."
"My education is not finished," replied he, smiling, as he looked
round on the elegant and luxurious apartment. "What are all these
comforts and splendors compared with the rescue of my country, and the
redemption of an oppressed race? What is my life, compared with the
life of this Republic? Say, dearest, that you will give me willingly
to this righteous cause."
"Far rather would I give my own life," she said. "But I will never
seek to trammel your conscience, Alfred."
They spoke together tenderly of the past, and hopefully of the future;
and then they knelt and prayed together.
Some time was necessarily spent in making arrangements for the comfort
and safety of the family during his absence; and when those were
completed, he also went forth to rescue Liberty from the jaws of the
devouring dragon. When he bade farewell to Flora's family, he said:
"Look after my precious ones, Blumenthal; and if I never return, see
to it that Percival carries out all my plans with regard to George
Eight or ten weeks later, Alfred Blumenthal was lying in a hospital at
Washington, dangerously wounded and burning with fever. His father and
mother and Mrs. Delano immediately went to him; and the women remained
until the trembling balance between life and death was determined in
his favor. The soldier's life, which he at first dreaded, had become
familiar to him, and he found a terrible sort of excitement in its
chances and dangers. Mrs. Delano sighed to observe that the gentle
expression of his countenance, so like the Alfred of her memory, was
changing to a sterner manhood. It was harder than the first parting
to send him forth again into the fiery hail of battle; but they put
strong constraint upon themselves, and tried to perform bravely their
part in the great drama.
That visit to his suffering but uncomplaining son made a strong
impression on the mind of Mr. Blumenthal. He became abstracted and
restless. One evening, as he sat leaning his head on his hand, Flora
said, "What are you thinking of, Florimond?"
He answered: "I am thinking, dear, of the agony I suffered when I
hadn't money to save you from the auction-block; and I am thinking how
the same accursed system is striving to perpetuate and extend itself.
The Republic has need of all her sons to stop its ravages; and I feel
guilty in staying here, while our Alfred is so heroically offering up
his young life in the cause of freedom."
"I have dreaded this," she said. "I have seen for days that it was
coming. But, O Florimond, it is hard."
She hid her face in his bosom, and he felt her heart beat violently,
while he talked concerning the dangers and duties of the time. Mrs.
Delano bowed her head over the soldier's sock she was knitting, and
tears dropped on it while she listened to them.
The weight that lay so heavily upon their souls was suddenly lifted up
for a time by the entrance of Joe Bright. He came in with a radiant
face, and, bowing all round, said, "I've come to bid you good by; I'm
going to defend the old flag." He lifted up his voice and sang,
"'Tis the star-spangled banner, O long may it wave!" Flora went to the
piano, and accompanied him with instrument and voice. Her husband soon
struck in; and Rosen Blumen and Lila left their lessons to perform
their part in the spirit-stirring strain. When they had sung the last
line, Mr. Bright, without pausing to take breath, struck into "Scots
wha hae wi' Wallace bled," and they followed his lead. He put on all
his steam when he came to the verse,
"By our country's woes and pains,
By our sons in servile chains,
We will drain our dearest veins,
But they _shall_ be free!"
He emphasized the word _shall_, and brought his clenched hand down
upon the table so forcibly, that the shade over the gas-light shook.
In the midst of it, Mrs. Delano stole out of the room. She had a great
respect and liking for Mr. Bright, but he was sometimes rather too
demonstrative to suit her taste. He was too much carried away with
enthusiasm to notice her noiseless retreat, and he went on to the
conclusion of his song with unabated energy. All earnestness is
magnetic. Mr. and Mrs. Blumenthal, and even the children, caught his
spirit. When the song ended, Mr. Blumenthal drew a long breath, and
said: "One needs strong lungs to accompany you, Mr. Bright. You sang
that like the tramp of a regiment."
"And you blazed away like an explosion of artillery," rejoined he.
"The fact is," replied Blumenthal. "the war spirit pervades the air,
and I've caught it. I'm going to join the army."
"Are you?" exclaimed Mr. Bright, seizing his hand with so tight a grip
that it made him wince. "I hope you'll be my captain."
Mr. Blumenthal rubbed his hand, and smiled as he said, "I pity the
Rebel that you get hold of, Mr. Bright."
"Ask your pardon. Ask your pardon," rejoined he. "But speaking of the
tramp of a regiment, here it goes!" And he struck up "John Brown's
Hallelujah." They put their souls into it in such a manner, that the
spirit of the brave old martyr seemed marching all through it.
When it came to a conclusion, Mr. Bright remarked: "Only to think how
that incendiary song is sung in Boston streets, and in the parlors
too, when only little more than a year ago a great mob was yelling
after Wendell Phillips, for speaking on the anniversary of John
Brown's execution. I said then the fools would get enough of slavery
before they'd done with it; and I reckon they're beginning to find it
out, not only the rowdies, but the nabobs that set 'em on. War ain't
a blessing, but it's a mighty great teacher; that's a fact. No wonder
the slavites hated Phillips. He aims sure and hits hard. No use in
trying to pass off shams upon _him_. If you bring him anything that
ain't real mahogany, his blows'll be sure to make the veneering fly.
But I'm staying too long. I only looked in to tell you I was going."
He glanced round for Mrs. Delano, and added: "I'm afraid I sung too
loud for that quiet lady. The fact is, I'm full of fight."
"That's what the times demand," replied Mr. Blumenthal.
They bade him "Good night," and smiled at each other to hear his
strong voice, as it receded in the distance, still singing, "His soul
is marching on."
"Now I will go to Mamita," said Flora. "Her gentle spirit suffers in
these days. This morning, when she saw a company of soldiers marching
by, and heard the boys hurrahing, she said to me so piteously, 'O
Flora, these are wild times.' Poor Mamita! she's like a dove in a
"_You_ seemed to be strong as an eagle while you were singing,"
responded her husband.
"I felt like a drenched humming-bird when Mr. Bright came in,"
rejoined she; "but he and the music together lifted me up into the
blue, as your Germans say."
"And from that height can you say to me, 'Obey the call of duty,
She put her little hand in his and answered, "I can. May God protect
Then, turning to her children, she said: "I am going to bring Mamita;
and presently, when I go away to be alone with papa a little while, I
want you to do everything to make the evening pleasant for Mamita. You
know she likes to hear you sing, 'Now Phoebus sinketh in the west.'"
"And I will play that Nocturne of Mendelssohn's that she likes so
much," replied Rosen Blumen. "She says I play it almost as well as
"And she likes to hear me sing, 'Once on a time there was a king,'"
said Lila. "She says she heard _you_ singing it in the woods a long
time ago, when she hadn't anybody to call her Mamita."
"Very well, my children," replied their mother. "Do everything you can
to make Mamita happy; for there will never be such another Mamita."
* * * * *
During the anxious months that followed Mr. Blumenthal's departure,
the sisters and their families were almost daily at the rooms of the
Sanitary Commission, sewing, packing, or writing. Henriet had become
expert with the sewing-machine, and was very efficient help; and even
Tulee, though far from skilful with her needle, contrived to make
dozens of hospital slippers, which it was the pride of her heart to
deliver to the ladies of the Commission. Chloe added her quota of
socks, often elephantine in shape, and sometimes oddly decorated with
red tops and toes; but with a blessing for "the boys in blue" running
through all the threads. There is no need to say how eagerly they
watched for letters, and what a relief it was to recognize the writing
of beloved hands, feeling each time that it might be the last.
Mr. King kept up occasional correspondence with the officers of George
Falkner's company, and sent from time to time favorable reports of his
bravery and good habits. Henriet received frequent letters from him,
imperfectly spelled, but full of love and loyalty.
Two years after Mr. King left his happy home, he was brought back with
a Colonel's shoulder-strap, but with his right leg gone, and his right
arm in a sling. When the first joy of reunion had expressed itself
in caresses and affectionate words, he said to Rosa, "You see what a
cripple you have for a husband."
"I make the same reply the English girl did to Commodore Barclay," she
replied; "'You're dear as ever to me, so long as there's body enough
to hold the soul,'"
Eulalia wept tears of joy on her father's neck, while Flora, and Rosen
Blumen, and Lila clasped their arms round him, and Tulee stood peeping
in at the door, waiting for her turn to welcome the hero home.
"Flora, you see my dancing days are over," said the Colonel.
"Never mind, I'll do your dancing," she replied. "Rosen Blumen, play
uncle's favorite waltz."
She passed her arm round Eulalia, and for a few moments they revolved
round the room to the circling music. She had so long been called the
life of the family, that she tried to keep up her claim to the title.
But her present mirthfulness was assumed; and it was contrary to her
nature to act a part. She kissed her hand to her brother-in-law, and
smiled as she whirled out of the room; but she ran up stairs and
pressed the tears back, as she murmured to herself, "Ah, if I could
only be sure Florimond and Alfred would come back, even mutilated as
Another year brought with it what was supposed to be peace, and the
army was disbanded. Husband and son returned alive and well, and Flora
was her young self again. In the exuberance of her joy she seemed more
juvenile than her girls; jumping from husband to son and from son
to husband, kissing them and calling them all manner of pet names;
embracing Mrs. Delano at intervals, and exclaiming, "O Mamita, here we
are all together again! I wish my arms were long enough to hug you all
"I thank God, my child, for your sake and for my own," replied Mrs.
Delano. She looked at Alfred, as she spoke, and the affectionate
glance he returned filled her heart with a deep and quiet joy. The
stern shadow of war vanished from his face in the sunshine of
home, and she recognized the same gentle expression that had been
photographed on her memory long years ago.
When the family from Beacon Street came, a few minutes later, with
welcomes and congratulations, Alfred bestowed a different sort of
glance on his cousin Eulalia, and they both blushed; as young people
often do, without knowing the reason why. Rosen Blumen and Lila had
been studying with her the language of their father's country; and
when the general fervor had somewhat abated, the girls manifested some
disposition to show off the accomplishment. "Do hear them calling
Alfred _Mein lieber bruder_," said Flora to her husband, "while Rosa
and I are sprinkling them all with pet names in French and Spanish.
What a polyglot family we are! as _cher papa_ used to say. But,
Florimond, did you notice anything peculiar in the meeting between
Alfred and Eulalia?"
"I thought I did," he replied.
"How will Brother King like it?" she asked. "He thinks very highly of
Alfred; but you know he has a theory against the marriage of cousins."
"So have I," answered Blumenthal; "but nations and races have been
pretty thoroughly mixed up in the ancestry of our children. What with
African and French, Spanish, American, and German, I think the dangers
of too close relationship are safely diminished."
"They are a good-looking set, between you and I," said Flora; "though
they _are_ oddly mixed up. See Eulalia, with her great blue eyes,
and her dark eyebrows and eyelashes. Rosen Blumen looks just like a
handsome Italian girl. No one would think Lila Blumen was her sister,
with her German blue eyes, and that fine frizzle of curly light hair.
Your great-grandmother gave her the flax, and I suppose mine did the
This side conversation was interrupted by Mr. King's saying:
"Blumenthal, you haven't asked for news concerning Mrs. Fitzgerald.
You know Mr. Green has been a widower for some time. Report says
that he finds in her company great consolation for the death of her
"That's what I call a capital arrangement," said Flora; "and I didn't
mean any joke about their money, either. Won't they sympathize
grandly? Won't she be in her element? Top notch. No end to balls and
parties; and a coat of arms on the coach."
"The news made me very glad," observed Rosa; "for the thought of her
loneliness always cast a shadow over my happiness."
"Even _they_ have grown a little during the war," rejoined Mr. King.
"Nabob Green, as they call him, did actually contribute money for the
raising of colored regiments. He so far abated his prejudice as to be
willing that negroes should have the honor of being shot in his stead;
and Mrs. Fitzgerald agreed with him. That was a considerable advance,
you must admit."
They went on for some time talking over news, public and private; not
omitting the prospects of Tom's children, and the progress of Tulee's.
But such family chats are like the showers of manna, delicious as they
fall, but incapable of preservation.
The first evening the families met at the house in Beacon Street, Mr.
Blumenthal expressed a wish to see Henriet, and she was summoned. The
improvement in her appearance impressed him greatly. Having lived
three years with kindly and judicious friends, who never reminded
her, directly or indirectly, that she was a black sheep in the social
flock, her faculties had developed freely and naturally; and belonging
to an imitative race, she readily adopted the language and manners of
those around her. Her features were not handsome, with the exception
of her dark, liquid-looking eyes; and her black hair was too crisp to
make a soft shading for her brown forehead. But there was a winning
expression of gentleness in her countenance, and a pleasing degree of
modest ease in her demeanor. A map, which she had copied very neatly,
was exhibited, and a manuscript book of poems, of her own selection,
written very correctly, in a fine flowing hand. "Really, this is
encouraging," said Mr. Blumenthal, as she left the room. "If half a
century of just treatment and free schools can bring them all up to
this level, our battles will not be in vain, and we shall deserve to
rank among the best benefactors of the country; to say nothing of a
corresponding improvement in the white population."
"Thitherward is Providence leading us," replied Mr. King. "Not unto
us, but unto God, be all the glory. We were all of us working for
better than we knew."
* * * * *
Mr. King had written to George Falkner, to inform him of a situation
he had in store for him at Marseilles, and to request a previous
meeting in New York, as soon as he could obtain his discharge from the
army; being in this, as in all other arrangements, delicately careful
to avoid giving annoyance to Mrs. Fitzgerald. In talking this over
with his wife, he said: "I consider it a duty to go to Marseilles with
him. It will give us a chance to become acquainted with each other;
it will shield him from possible impertinences on the passage, on
Henriet's account; and it will be an advantage to him to be introduced
as my friend to the American Consul, and some commercial gentlemen of
"I am to go with you, am I not?" asked Rosa. "I am curious to see
this young man, from whom I parted, so unconscious of all the strange
future, when he was a baby in Tulee's arms."
"I think you had better not go, dear," he replied; "though the loss
of your company will deprive me of a great pleasure. Eulalia would
naturally wish to go with us; and as she knows nothing of George's
private history, it would be unwise to excite her curiosity by
introducing her to such a striking likeness of Gerald. But she might
stay with Rosen Blumen while you go to New York and remain with me
till the vessel sails. If I meet with no accidents, I shall return in
three months; for I go merely to give George a fair start, though,
when there, I shall have an eye to some other business, and take a run
to Italy to look in upon our good old friends, Madame and the Signor."
The journey to New York was made at the appointed time, in company
with Henriet and her little one. George had risen to the rank of
lieutenant in the army, and had acquired a military bearing that
considerably increased the manliness of his appearance. He was browned
by exposure to sun and wind; but he so strongly resembled her handsome
Gerald, that Rosa longed to clasp him to her heart. His wife's
appearance evidently took him by surprise. "How you have changed!"
he exclaimed. "What a lady you are! I can hardly believe this is the
little Hen I used to make mud pies with."
She laughed as she answered: "You are changed, too. If I have
improved, it is owing to these kind friends. Only think of it, George,
though Mrs. King is such a handsome and grand lady, she always called
me Mrs. Falkner."
Mrs. King made several appropriate parting presents to Henriet and
little Hetty. To George she gave a gold watch, and a very beautiful
colored photograph of Gerald, in a morocco case, as a souvenir of
their brief friendship in the army.
Mr. King availed himself of every hour of the voyage to gain the
confidence of the young man, and to instil some salutary lessons into
his very receptive mind. After they had become well acquainted, he
said: "I have made an estimate of what I think it will be necessary
for you to spend for rent, food, and clothing; also of what I think it
would be wise for you to spend in improving your education, and
for occasional amusements. I have not done this in the spirit of
dictation, my young friend, but merely with the wish of helping you by
my greater experience of life. It is important that you should
learn to write a good commercial hand, and also acquire, as soon as
possible, a very thorough knowledge of the French language. For these
you should employ the best teachers that can be found. Your wife can
help you in many ways. She has learned to spell correctly, to read
with fluency and expression, and to play quite well on the piano. You
will find it very profitable to read good books aloud to each other.
I advise you not to go to places of amusement oftener than once a
fortnight, and always to choose such places as will be suitable and
pleasant for your wife. I like that young men in my employ should
never taste intoxicating drinks, or use tobacco in any form. Both
those habits are expensive, and I have long ago abjured them as
injurious to health."
The young man bowed, and replied, "I will do as you wish in all
respects, sir; I should be very ungrateful if I did not."
"I shall give you eight hundred dollars for the first year," resumed
Mr. King; "and shall increase your salary year by year, according to
your conduct and capabilities. If you are industrious, temperate, and
economical, there is no reason why you should not become a rich man in
time; and it will be wise for you to educate yourself, your wife, and
your children, with a view to the station you will have it in your
power to acquire. If you do your best, you may rely upon my influence
and my fatherly interest to help you all I can."
The young man colored, and, after a little embarrassed hesitation,
said: "You spoke of a fatherly interest, sir; and that reminds me that
I never had a father. May I ask whether you know anything about my
Mr. King had anticipated the possibility of such a question, and he
replied: "I will tell you who your father was, if you will give a
solemn promise never to ask a single question about your mother.
On that subject I have given a pledge of secrecy which it would be
dishonorable for me to break. Only this much I will say, that neither
of your parents was related to me in any degree, or connected with me
in any way."
The young man answered, that he was of course very desirous to know
his whole history, but would be glad to obtain any information,
and was willing to give the required promise, which he would most
Mr. King then went on to say: "Your father was Mr. Gerald Fitzgerald,
a planter in Georgia. You have a right to his name, and I will so
introduce you to my friends, if you wish it. He inherited a handsome
fortune, but lost it all by gambling and other forms of dissipation.
He had several children by various mothers. You and the Gerald with
whom you became acquainted were brothers by the father's side. You are
unmixed white; but you were left in the care of a negro nurse, and one
of your father's creditors seized you both, and sold you into slavery.
Until a few months before you were acquainted with Gerald, it was
supposed that you died in infancy; and for that reason no efforts were
made to redeem you. Circumstances which I am not at liberty to explain
led to the discovery that you were living, and that Gerald had learned
your history as a slave. I feel the strongest sympathy with your
misfortunes, and cherish a lively gratitude for your kindness to my
young friend Gerald. All that I have told you is truth; and if it were
in my power, I would most gladly tell you the _whole_ truth."
The young man listened with the deepest interest; and, having
expressed his thanks, said he should prefer to be called by his
father's name; for he thought he should feel more like a man to bear a
name to which he knew that he had a right.
* * * * *
When Mr. King again returned to his Boston home, as soon as the first
eager salutations were over, he exclaimed: "How the room is decorated
with vines and flowers! It reminds me of that dear floral parlor in
"Didn't you telegraph that you were coming? And is it not your
birthday?" inquired his wife.
He kissed her, and said: "Well, Rosabella, I think you may now have a
tranquil mind; for I believe things have been so arranged that no one
is very seriously injured by that act of frenzy which has caused you
so much suffering. George will not be deprived of any of his pecuniary
rights; and he is in a fair way to become more of a man than he would
have been if he had been brought up in luxury. He and Henriet are as
happy in their prospects as two mortals well can be. Gerald enjoyed
his short life; and was more bewildered than troubled by the discovery
that he had two mothers. Eulalia was a tender, romantic memory to him;
and such, I think, he has become to our child. I don't believe Mrs.
Fitzgerald suffered much more than annoyance. Gerald was always the
same to her as a son; and if he had been really so, he would probably
have gone to the war, and have run the same chance of being killed."
"Ah, Alfred," she replied, "I should never have found my way out of
that wretched entanglement if it had not been for you. You have really
acted toward me the part of Divine Providence. It makes me ashamed
that I have not been able to do anything in atonement for my own
fault, except the pain I suffered in giving up my Gerald to his
Lily-mother. When I think how that poor babe became enslaved by
my act, I long to sell my diamonds, and use the money to build
school-houses for the freedmen."
"Those diamonds seem to trouble you, dearest," rejoined he, smiling.
"I have no objection to your selling them. You become them, and they
become you; but I think school-houses will shine as brighter jewels in
the better world."
Here Flora came in with all her tribe; and when the welcomes were
over, her first inquiries were for Madame and the Signor.
"They are well," replied Mr. King, "and they seem to be as contented
as tabbies on a Wilton rug. They show signs of age, of course. The
Signor has done being peppery, and Madame's energy has visibly abated;
but her mind is as lively as ever. I wish I could remember half the
stories she repeated about the merry pranks of your childhood. She
asked a great many questions about _Jolie Manon_; and she laughed till
she cried while she described, in dramatic style, how you crazed the
poor bird with imitations, till she called you _Joli petit diable_"
"How I wish I had known mamma then! How funny she must have been!"
"I think you have heard some performances of hers that were equally
funny," rejoined Mrs. Delano. "I used to be entertained with a variety
of them; especially when we were in Italy. If any of the _pifferari_
went by, she would imitate the drone of their bagpipes in a manner
irresistibly comic. And if she saw a peasant-girl dancing, she
forthwith went through the performance to the life."
"Yes, Mamita," responded Flora; "and you know I fancied myself a great
musical composer in those days,--a sort of feminine Mozart; but the
_qui vive_ was always the key I composed in."
"I used to think the fairies helped you about that, as well as other
things," replied Mrs. Delano.
"I think the fairies help her now," said Mr. Blumenthal; "and well
they may, for she is of their kith and kin."
This playful trifling was interrupted by the sound of the
folding-doors rolling apart; and in the brilliantly lighted adjoining
room a tableau became visible, in honor of the birthday. Under
festoons of the American flag, surmounted by the eagle, stood Eulalia,
in ribbons of red, white, and blue, with a circle of stars round her
head. One hand upheld the shield of the Union, and in the other the
scales of Justice were evenly poised. By her side stood Rosen Blumen,
holding in one hand a gilded pole surmounted by a liberty-cap, while
her other hand rested protectingly on the head of Tulee's Benny, who
was kneeling and looking upward in thanksgiving.
Scarcely had the vision appeared before Joe Bright's voice was heard
leading invisible singers through the tune "Hail to the Chief," which
Alfred Blumenthal accompanied with a piano. As they sang the last line
the striped festoons fell and veiled the tableau. Then Mr. Bright, who
had returned a captain, appeared with his company, consisting of Tom
and Chloe with their children, and Tulee with her children, singing a
parody composed by himself, of which the chorus was:--
"Blow ye the trumpet abroad o'er the sea,
Columbia has triumphed, the negro is free!
Praise to the God of our fathers! 'twas He,
Jehovah, that triumphed, Columbia, through thee."
To increase the effect, the director of ceremonies had added a
flourish of trumpets behind the scenes.
Then the colored band came forward, hand in hand, and sang together,
with a will, Whittier's immortal "Boat Song":--
"We own de hoe, we own de plough,
We own de hands dat hold;
We sell de pig, we sell de cow;
But nebber _chile_ be sold.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We'll hab de rice an' corn:
O, nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!"
All the family, of all ages and colors, then joined in singing "The
Star-spangled Banner"; and when Mr. King had shaken hands with them
all, they adjourned to the breakfast-room, where refreshments were
At last Mr. Bright said: "I don't want to bid you good night, friends;
but I must. I don't generally like to go among Boston folks. Just look
at the trees on the Common. They're dying because they've rolled the
surface of the ground so smooth. That's just the way in Boston, I
reckon. They take so much pains to make the surface smooth, that
it kills the roots o' things. But when I come here, or go to Mrs.
Blumenthal's, I feel as if the roots o' things wa'n't killed. Good
night, friends. I haven't enjoyed myself so well since I found Old
Hundred and Yankee Doodle in the Harmolinks."
The sound of his whistling died away in the streets; the young people
went off to talk over their festival; the colored troop retired
to rest; and the elders of the two families sat together in the
stillness, holding sweet converse concerning the many strange
experiences that had been so richly crowned with blessings.
A new surprise awaited them, prepared by the good taste of Mr.
Blumenthal. A German Liederkrantz in the hall closed the ceremonies of
the night with Mendelssohn's "Song of Praise."