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Our World, or, The Slaveholders Daughter by F. Colburn Adams

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Passing to the cabin of Ellen Juvarna, we see her in the same
confusion which seems to have beset the plantation: her dark,
piercing eyes, display more of that melancholy which marks
Clotilda's; nor does thoughtfulness pervade her countenance, and yet
there is the restlessness of an Indian about her,--she is Indian by
blood and birth; her look calls up all the sad associations of her
forefathers; her black glossy hair, in heavy folds, hangs carelessly
about her olive shoulders, contrasting strangely with the other.

"And you, Nicholas! remember what your father will say: but you must
not call him such," she says, taking by the hand a child we have
described, who is impatient to join the gay group.

"That ain't no harm, mother! Father always is fondling about me when
nobody's lookin'," the child answers, with a pertness indicating a
knowledge of his parentage rather in advance of his years.

We pass to the kitchen,--a little, dingy cabin, presenting the most
indescribable portion of the scene, the smoke issuing from every
crevice. Here old Peggy, the cook,--an enveloped representative of
smoke and grease,--as if emerging from the regions of Vulcan, moves
her fat sides with the independence of a sovereign. In this
miniature smoke-pit she sweats and frets, runs to the door every few
minutes, adjusts the points of her flashy bandana, and takes a
wistful look at the movements without. Sal, Suke, Rose, and Beck,
young members of Peggy's family, are working at the top of their
energy among stew-pans, griddles, pots and pails, baskets, bottles
and jugs. Wafs, fritters, donjohns and hominy flap-jacks, fine
doused hams, savoury meats, ices, and fruit-cakes, are being
prepared and packed up for the occasion. Negro faces of every shade
seem full of interest and freshness, newly brightened for the
pleasures of the day. Now and then broke upon our ear that plaintive
melody with the words, "Down on the Old Plantation;" and again, "Jim
crack corn, an' I don't care, for Mas'r's gone away." Then came Aunt
Rachel, always persisting in her right to be master of ceremonies,
dressed in her Sunday bombazine, puffed and flounced, her gingham
apron so clean, her head "did up" with the flashiest bandana in her
wardrobe; it's just the colour for her taste-real yellow, red, and
blue, tied with that knot which is the height of plantation toilet:
there is as little restraint in her familiarity with the gentry of
the mansion as there is in her control over the denizens of the
kitchen. Even Dandy and Enoch, dressed in their best black coats,
white pantaloons, ruffled shirts, with collars endangering their
ears, hair crisped with an extra nicety, stand aside at her bidding.
The height of her ambition is to direct the affairs of the mansion:
sometimes she extends it to the overseer. The trait is amiably
exercised: she is the best nigger on the plantation, and Marston
allows her to indulge her feelings, while his guests laugh at her
native pomposity, so generously carried out in all her commands. She
is preparing an elegant breakfast, which "her friends" must partake
of before starting. Everything must be in her nicest: she runs from
the ante-room to the hall, and from thence to the yard, gathering
plates and dishes; she hurries Old Peggy the cook, and again scolds
the waiters.

Daddy Bob and Harry have come into the yard to ask Marston's
permission to join the party as boatmen. They are in Aunt Rachel's
way, and she rushes past them, pushing them aside, and calling Mas'r
to come and attend to their wants. Marston comes forward, greets
them with a familiar shake of the hand, granting their request
without further ceremony. Breakfast is ready; but, anxious for the
amusement of the day, their appetites are despoiled. Franconia, more
lovely than ever, presenting that ease, elegance, and reserve of the
southern lady, makes her appearance in the hall, is escorted to the
table leaning on the arm of Maxwell. Delicacy, sensitiveness,
womanly character full of genial goodness, are traits with which the
true southern lady is blessed:--would she were blessed with another,
an energy to work for the good of the enslaved! Could she add that
to the poetry of her nature, how much greater would be her charm-how
much more fascinating that quiet current of thought with which she
seems blessed! There is a gentleness in her impulses--a pensiveness
in her smile--a softness in her emotions--a grace in her movements--an
ardent soul in her love! She is gay and lightsome in her youth; she
values her beauty, is capricious with her admirers, and yet becomes
the most affectionate mother; she can level her frowns, play with
the feelings, make her mercurial sympathy touching, knows the power
of her smiles: but once her feelings are enlisted, she is sincere
and ardent in her responses. If she cannot boast of the bright
carnatic cheek, she can swell the painter's ideal with her fine
features, her classic face, the glow of her impassioned eyes. But
she seldom carries this fresh picture into the ordinary years of
womanhood: the bloom enlivening her face is but transient; she loses
the freshness of girlhood, and in riper years, fades like a
sensitive flower, withering, unhappy with herself, unadmired by

Franconia sat at the table, a pensiveness pervading her countenance
that bespoke melancholy: as she glanced inquiringly round, her eyes
rested upon Lorenzo fixedly, as if she detected something in his
manner at variance with his natural deportment. She addressed him;
but his cold reply only excited her more: she resolved upon knowing
the cause ere they embarked. Breakfast was scarcely over before the
guests of the party from the neighbouring plantations began to
assemble in the veranda, leaving their servants in charge of the
viands grouped together upon the grass, under a clump of oaks a few
rods from the mansion. Soon the merry-makers, about forty in number,
old and young, their servants following, repaired to the landing,
where a long barge, surrounded by brakes and water-lilies, presented
another picture.

"Him all straight, Mas'r-him all straight, jus so!" said Daddy Bob,
as he strode off ahead, singing "Dis is de way to de jim crack

Servants of all ages and colour, mammies and daddies, young 'uns and
prime fellows,--"wenches" that had just become hand-maids,--brought
up the train, dancing, singing, hopping, laughing, and sporting:
some discuss the looks of their young mistresses, others are
criticising their dress. Arrived at the landing, Daddy Bob and
Harry, full of cares, are hurrying several prime fellows, giving
orders to subordinate boatmen about getting the substantial on
board,--the baskets of champagne, the demijohns, the sparkling
nectar. The young beaux and belles, mingling with their dark sons
and daughters of servitude, present a motley group indeed-a scene
from which the different issues of southern life may be faithfully

A band of five musicians, engaged to enliven the sports of the day
with their music, announce, "All on board!" and give the signal for
starting by striking up "Life on the Ocean Wave." Away they speed,
drawn by horses on the bank, amidst the waving of handkerchiefs, the
soft notes of the music reverberating over the pine-clad hills.
Smoothly and gently, onward they speed upon the still bosom of the
Ashly;-the deep, dark stream, its banks bedecked with blossoms and
richest verdure, is indeed enough to excite the romantic of one's
nature. Wild, yet serene with rural beauty, if ever sensations of
love steal upon us, it is while mingling in the simple
convivialities so expressive of southern life. On, on, the barge
moved, as lovers gathered together, the music dancing upon the
waters. Another party sing the waterman's merry song, still another
trail for lilies, and a third gather into the prow to test champagne
and ice, or regale with choice Havannas. Marston, and a few of the
older members, seated at midships, discuss the all-absorbing
question of State-rights; while the negroes are as merry as larks in
May, their deep jargon sounding high above the clarion notes of the
music. Now it subsides into stillness, broken only by the splashing
of an alligator, whose sports call forth a rapturous shout.

After some three hours' sailing the barge nears a jut of rising
ground on the left bank. Close by it is a grove of noble old pines,
in the centre of which stands a dilapidated brick building, deserted
for some cause not set forth on the door: it is a pretty, shaded
retreat-a spot breathing of romance. To the right are broad lagoons
stretching far into the distance; their dark waters, beneath thick
cypress, presenting the appearance of an inundated grove. The
cypress-trees hang their tufted tops over the water's surface,
opening an area beneath studded with their trunks, like rude columns
supporting a panoply of foliage.

The barge stops, the party land; the shrill music, still dancing
through the thick forest, re-echoes in soft chimes as it steals
back upon the scene. Another minute, and we hear the voices of Daddy
Bob and Harry, Dandy and Enoch: they are exchanging merry laughs,
shouting in great good-nature, directing the smaller fry, who are
fagging away at the larder, sucking the ice, and pocketing the
lemons. "Dat ain't just straight, nohow: got de tings ashore, an' ye
get 'e share whin de white folk done! Don' make 'e nigger ob
yourse'f, now, old Boss, doing the ting up so nice," Daddy says,
frowning on his minions. A vanguard have proceeded in advance to
take possession of the deserted house; while Aunt Rachel, with her
cortŠge of feminines, is fussing over "young missus." Here, a group
are adjusting their sun-shades; there, another are preparing their
fans and nets. Then they follow the train, Clotilda and Ellen
leading their young representatives by the hand, bringing up the
rear among a cluster of smaller fry. Taking peaceable possession of
the house, they commence to clear the rooms, the back ones being
reserved for the sumptuous collation which Rachel and her juniors
are preparing. The musicians are mustered,--the young belles and
beaux, and not a few old bachelors, gather into the front room,
commence the fˆtes with country dances, and conclude with the polka
and schottische.

Rachel's department presents a bustling picture; she is master of
ceremonies, making her sombre minions move at her bidding, adjusting
the various dishes upon the table. None, not even the most favoured
guests, dare intrude themselves into her apartments until she
announces the completion of her tables, her readiness to receive
friends. And yet, amidst all this interest of character, this happy
pleasantry, this seeming contentment, there is one group pauses ere
it arrives at the house,--dare not enter. The distinction seems
undefinable to us; but they, poor wretches, feel it deeply. Shame
rankles deep, to their very heart's core. They doubt their position,
hesitate at the door, and, after several nervous attempts to enter,
fall back,--gather round a pine-tree, where they enjoy the day,
separated from the rest. There is a simplicity-a forlornness, about
this little group, which attracts our attention, excites our
sympathies, unbends our curiosity: we would relieve the burden it
labours under. They are Ellen Juvarna, Clotilda, and their children.
Socially, they are disowned; they are not allowed to join the
festivities with those in the dance, and their feelings revolt at
being compelled to associate with the negroes. They are as white as
many of the whitest, have the same outlines of interest upon their
faces; but their lives are sealed with the black seal of slavery.
Sensible of the injustice that has stripped them of their rights,
they value their whiteness; the blood of birth tinges their face,
and through it they find themselves mere dregs of human
kind,--objects of sensualism in its vilest associations.

Maxwell has taken a deep interest in Clotilda; and the solicitude
she manifests for her child has drawn him still further in her
favour; he is determined to solve the mystery that shrouds her
history. Drawing near to them, he seats himself upon the ground at
their side, inquires why they did not come into the house. "There's
no place there for us,--none for me," Clotilda modestly replies,
holding down her head, placing her arm around Annette's waist.

"You would enjoy it much better, and there is no restraint upon

"We know not why the day was not for us to enjoy as well as others;
but it is ordained so. Where life is a dreary pain, pleasure is no
recompense for disgrace enforced upon us. They tell us we are not
what God made us to be; but it is the worst torture to be told so.
There is nothing in it-it is the curse only that remains to enforce
wrong. Those who have gifts to enjoy life, and those who move to
make others happy, can enjoy their separate pleasures; our lives are
between the two, hence there is little pleasure for us," she
answered, her eyes moistening with tears.

"If you will but come with me-"

"Oh, I will go anywhere," she rejoined, quickly; "anywhere from
this; that I may know who I am-may bear my child with me-may lead a
virtuous life, instead of suffering the pangs of shame through a
life of unholy trouble."

"She never knows when she's well off. If Marston was to hear her
talk in that way, I wouldn't stand in her shoes," interrupted Ellen,
with a significant air.

Touched by this anxious reply, Maxwell determined to know more of
her feelings-to solve the anxiety that was hanging upon her mind,
and, if possible, to carry her beyond the power that held her and
her child in such an uncertain position.

"I meant into the house," said he, observing that Ellen was not
inclined to favour Clotilda's feelings; and just at that moment the
shrill sounds of a bugle summoned the party to the collation. Here
another scene was enacted, which is beyond the power of pen to
describe. The tables, decorated with wild flowers, were spread with
meats of all descriptions,--fowl, game, pastry, and fruit, wines, and
cool drinks. Faces wearing the blandest smiles, grave matrons, and
cheerful planters,--all dressed in rustic style and neatness-gathered
around to partake of the feast, while servants were running hither
and thither to serve mas'r and missus with the choicest bits.
Toasts, compliments, and piquant squibs, follow the wine-cup. Then
came that picture of southern life which would be more worthy of
praise if it were carried out in the purity of motive:--as soon as
the party had finished, the older members, in their turn, set about
preparing a repast for the servants. This seemed to elate the
negroes, who sat down to their meal with great pomp, and were not
restrained in the free use of the choicest beverage. While this was
going on, Marston ordered Rachel to prepare fruit and pastry for
Ellen and Clotilda. "See to them; and they must have wine too,"
whispered Marston.

"I know's dat, old Boss," returned Rachel, with a knowing wink.

After the collation, the party divided into different sections. Some
enjoyed the dance, others strolled through the pine-grove,
whispering tales of love. Anglers repaired to the deep pond in quest
of trout, but more likely to find water-snakes and snapping turtles.
Far in the distance, on the right, moving like fairy gondolas
through the cypress-covered lagoon, little barks skim the dark
surface. They move like spectres, carrying their fair freight,
fanned by the gentle breeze pregnant with the magnolia' sweet
perfume. The fair ones in those tiny barks are fishing; they move
from tree to tree trailing their lines to tempt the finny tribe
here, and there breaking the surface with their gambols.

Lorenzo, as we have before informed the reader, exhibited signs of
melancholy during the day. So evident were they that Franconia's
sympathies became enlisted in his behalf, and even carried so far,
that Maxwell mistook her manner for indifference toward himself.
And, as if to confirm his apprehensions, no sooner had the collation
ended than she took Lorenzo's arm and retired to the remains of an
old mill, a few rods above the landing. It was a quiet, sequestered
spot-just such an one as would inspire the emotions of a sensitive
heart, recall the associations of childhood, and give life to our
pent-up enthusiasm. There they seated themselves, the one waiting
for the other to speak.

"Tell me, Lorenzo," said Franconia, laying her hand on his arm, and
watching with nervous anxiety each change of his countenance, "why
are you not joyous? you are gloomy to-day. I speak as a sister-you
are nervous, faltering with trouble-"

"Trouble!" he interrupted, raising his eyes, and accompanying an
affected indifference with a sigh. It is something he hesitates to
disclose. He has erred! his heart speaks, it is high-handed crime!
He looks upon her affectionately, a forced smile spreads itself over
his face. How forcibly it tells its tale. "Speak out," she
continues, tremulously: "I am a sister; a sister cannot betray a
brother's secrets." She removes her hand and lays it gently upon his

Looking imploringly in her face for a few minutes, he replies as if
it were an effort of great magnitude. "Something you must not
know-nor must the world! Many things are buried in the secrets of
time that would make great commotion if the world knew them. It were
well they passed unknown, for the world is like a great stream with
a surface of busy life moving on its way above a troubled current,
lashing and foaming beneath, but only breaking here and there as if
to mark the smothered conflict. And yet with me it is nothing, a
moment of disappointment creeping into my contemplations,
transplanting them with melancholy-"

"Something more!" interrupted Franconia, "something more; it is a
step beyond melancholy, more than disappointment. Uncle feels it
sensibly-it pains him, it wears upon him. I have seen it foremost in
his thoughts." Her anxiety increases, her soft meaning eyes look
upon him imploringly, she fondles him with a sister's tenderness,
the tears trickling down her cheeks as she beholds him downcast and
in sorrow. His reluctance to disclose the secret becomes more
painful to her.

"You may know it soon enough," he replies. "I have erred, and my
errors have brought me to a sad brink. My friends-those who have
indulged my follies-have quickened the canker that will destroy
themselves. Indulgence too often hastens the cup of sorrow, and when
it poisons most, we are least conscious. It is an alluring charmer,
betraying in the gayest livery-"

"Lorenzo," she interrupts, wiping the tears from her eyes. "Tell me
all; remember woman's influence-she can relieve others when she
cannot relieve herself. Make me your confidant--relieve your

"This night, Franconia, I shall bid a painful good-bye to those
familiar scenes which have surrounded my life,--to you, my sister, to
those faithful old friends of the plantation, Daddy Bob and Harry.
They have fondled me, protected me, played with me in my childhood,
led me to my boyish sports when all was bright and pleasant, when
the plantation had its merry scenes for slave and master. I must go
upon the world, mingle with strange life, make experience my
guardian. I have committed a crime-one which for ever disgraces the

Crime, crime, crime! weighed itself in her mind. "And what of that?"
she rejoined, suddenly; "a sister can forgive a brother any crime;
and even a lover, if she love truly, can forget them in her
affections. Do not go upon the world; be a man above crime, above
the bar of scandal. Have confidence in yourself; do not let the
injustice overcome you. Once on the world a wanderer, remember the
untold tale of misery, speeding its victims to that death of
conscience burning unseen."

"Nay, Franconia, you mean well; but you have not learned the world.
Take this as my advice, remember it when I am gone, and in years to
come you will acknowledge its truth--Fortune at the south rests on
an unsound foundation! We are lofty in feelings, but poor in
principle, poor in government,--poor in that which has built our
great republic. Uncertainty hangs over us at every step; but,
whatever befall you, stand firm through adversity. Never chide
others for the evils that may befall you; bear your burdens without
casting reflections on others,--it is nobler! Befriend those who have
no power to befriend themselves; and when the world forgets you, do
not forget yourself. There is no step of return for those who falter
in poverty. To-night I shall leave for the city; in a few days you
will know all." Thus saying, he conducted Franconia back to rejoin
the party, already making preparations to return.

He gave her an insight of his troubles, in such a manner as to
create deep agitation; and, although satisfied that an event of more
than ordinary magnitude was at hand, she could not associate it with
the commission of crime. The day, spent with all the conviviality of
southern life, ended amidst the clang of merry voices, and soft
music: a gay group assembled at the bank, ready to return under the
cheering influence of music and moonlight.

The bugle sounded,--the soft notes of "Home, sweet Home!" followed:
the party, forming into double file, gay and grotesque, marched
through the grove to the barge. Servants, old and young, were in
high glee; some joining in chorus with the music; some preparing the
barge, others strewing branches and flowers in the pathway, to the
delight of young "mas'r" and "missus,"-all singing. Aunt Rachel,
high above her minions in authority, is poised on the bank, giving
directions at the very top of her voice. Daddy Bob, Harry, and
Dandy-the latter named after "mas'r's" fleetest horse-are freighting
their young "missusses" in their arms to the boat, shielding their
feet from the damp.

"Now, mas'r, Old Boss," Bob says, directing himself to Marston,
after completing his charge with the young ladies, "Jus' lef' 'um
tote, old mas'r safe da'? So 'e don' mus e' foot." And forthwith he
shoulders Marston, lands him like a bale of cotton on one of the
seats, much to the amusement of those on board, sending forth shouts
of applause. The party are on board; all is quiet for a minute;
again the music strikes up, the barge is gliding over the still
bosom of the fairy-like stream.

The sun has just sunk into a fiery cloud that hangs its crimson
curtains high in the heavens, shedding refulgent beauty over the
dark jungle lining the river's banks. And then, twilight, as if
stealing its way across the hills, follows, softening the scene.
Soon it has gone, the landscape sleeps, tranquilly arched by the
serene vault of a southern sky. Everything seems peaceful, reposing,
and serene; the air breathes warm and balmy, distributing its
invigorating influence. The music has ceased, nothing but the ripple
of the water is heard; then the stars, like pearls suspended over
the dark surface, begin to glimmer and shine. Above all is the moon,
like a silver goddess, rising stealthily and shedding her pale light
upon the calm glow.

Onward, onward, onward, over the still stream, winding its way to
the great deep, they move; and again the music echoes and re-echoes
through the forest, over the lawn; dying away in chimes that faintly
play around us. The sudden changes in the heavens,--monitor of things
divine,--call up in Lorenzo's feelings the reverses of fortune that
will soon take place on the plantation. He had never before
recognised the lesson conveyed by heavenly bodies; and such was the
effect at that moment that it proved a guardian to him in his future

It was near midnight when the barge reached the plantation. Fires
were lighted on the bank, negroes were here and there stretched upon
the ground, sleeping with such superlative comfort that it landed
ere they awoke. One by one the parties returned for their homes;
and, after shaking hands with Marston, taking an affectionate adieu
of Franconia (telling her he would call on the morrow), lisping a
kind word to the old negroes, Lorenzo ordered a horse, and left for
the city. He took leave of the plantation, of its dearest
associations, like one who had the conflict of battle before him,
and the light of friendship behind.



IN the city, a few miles from the plantation, a scene which too
often affords those degrading pictures that disgrace a free and
happy country, was being enacted. A low brick building, standing in
an area protected by a high fence, surmounted with spikes and other
dangerous projectiles, formed the place. The upper and lower windows
of this building were strongly secured with iron gratings, and
emitted the morbid air from cells scarcely large enough to contain
human beings of ordinary size. In the rear, a sort of triangular
area opened, along which was a line of low buildings, displaying
single and double cells. Some had iron rings in the floor; some had
rings in the walls; and, again, others had rings over head. Some of
these confines of misery-for here men's souls were goaded by the
avarice of our natures-were solitary; and at night, when the turmoil
of the day had ceased, human wailings and the clank of chains might
be heard breaking through the walls of this charnel-house. These
narrow confines were filled with living beings-beings with souls,
souls sold according to the privileges of a free and happy
country,--a country that fills us with admiration of its greatness.
It is here, O man, the tyrant sways his hand most! it is here the
flesh and blood of the same Maker, in chains of death, yearns for

We walk through the corridor, between narrow arches containing the
abodes of misery, while our ears drink the sad melancholy that
sounds in agitated throbs, made painful by the gloom and darkness.
Touching an iron latch, the door of a cell opens, cold and damp, as
if death sat upon its walls; but it discloses no part of the
inmate's person, and excites our sympathies still more. We know the
unfortunate is there,--we hear the murmuring, like a death-bell in
our ears; it is mingled with a dismal chaos of sound, piercing deep
into our feelings. It tells us in terror how gold blasts the very
soul of man-what a dark monster of cruelty he can become,--how he can
forget the grave, and think only of his living self,--how he can
strip reason of its right, making himself an animal with man for his
food. See the monster seeking only for the things that can serve him
on earth-see him stripping man of his best birth-right, see him the
raving fiend, unconscious of his hell-born practices, dissevering
the hope that by a fibre hangs over the ruins of those beings who
will stand in judgment against him. His soul, like their faces, will
be black, when theirs has been whitened for judgment in the world to

Ascending a few steps, leading into a centre building-where the
slave merchant is polished into respectability-we enter a small room
at the right hand. Several men, some having the appearance of
respectable merchants, some dressed in a coarse, red-mixed homespun,
others smoking cigars very leisurely, are seated at a table, upon
which are several bottles and tumblers. They drank every few
minutes, touched glasses, uttered the vilest imprecations.
Conspicuous among them is Marco Graspum: it is enough that we have
before introduced him to the reader at Marston's mansion. His dark
peering eyes glisten as he sits holding a glass of liquor in one
hand, and runs his fingers through his bristly hair with the other.
"The depths of trade are beyond some men," he says, striking his
hand on the table; then, catching up a paper, tears it into pieces.
"Only follow my directions; and there can be no missing your man,"
he continued, addressing one who sat opposite to him; and who up to
that time had been puffing his cigar with great unconcern. His whole
energies seemed roused to action at the word. After keeping his eyes
fixed upon Graspum for more than a minute, he replied, at the same
time replenishing his cigar with a fresh one--

"Yee'h sees, Marco,--you'r just got to take that ar' say back, or
stand an all-fired chaffing. You don't scar' this 'un, on a point a'
business. If I hain't larned to put in the big pins, no fellow has.
When ye wants to 'sap' a tall 'un, like Marston, ye stands shy until
ye thinks he's right for pulling, and then ye'll make a muffin on
him, quicker. But, ye likes to have yer own way in gettin' round
things, so that a fellow can't stick a pinte to make a hundred or
two unless he weaves his way clean through the law-unless he
understands Mr. Justice, and puts a double blinder on his eye.
There's nothing like getting on the right side of a fellow what
knows how to get on the wrong side of the law; and seeing how I've
studied Mr. Justice a little bit better than he's studied his books,
I knows just what can be done with him when a feller's got chink in
his pocket. You can't buy 'em, sir, they're so modest; but you can
coax 'em at a mighty cheaper rate-you can do that!" "And ye can make
him feel as if law and his business warn't two and two," rejoined
Anthony Romescos, a lean, wiry man, whose small indescribable face,
very much sun-scorched, is covered with bright sandy hair, matted
and uncombed. His forehead is low, the hair grows nearly to his
eyebrows, profuse and red; his eyes wander and glisten with
desperation; he is a merciless character. Men fear him, dread him;
he sets the law at defiance, laughs when he is told he is the
cunningest rogue in the county. He owns to the fearful; says it has
served him through many a hard squeeze; but now that he finds law so
necessary to carry out villainy, he's taken to studying it himself.
His dress is of yellow cotton, of which he has a short roundabout
and loose pantaloons. His shirt bosom is open, the collar secured at
the neck with a short black ribbon; he is much bedaubed with
tobacco-juice, which he has deposited over his clothes for the want
of a more convenient place. A gray, slouch hat usually adorns his
head, which, in consequence of the thinking it does, needs a deal of
scratching. Reminding us how careful he is of his feet, he shows
them ensconced in a pair of Indian moccasins ornamented with
bead-work; and, as if we had not become fully conscious of his
power, he draws aside his roundabout, and there, beneath the waist
of his pantaloons, is a girdle, to which a large hunting-knife is
attached, some five inches of the handle protruding above the belt.
"Now, fellers, I tell ye what's what, ye'r point-up at bragin'; but
ye don't come square up to the line when there's anything to put
through what wants pluck. 'Tain't what a knowin' 'un like I can do;
it's just what he can larn to be with a little training in things
requiring spunk. I'm a going to have a square horse, or no horse; if
I don't, by the great Davy, I'll back out and do business on my own
account,--Anthony Romescos always makes his mark and then masters it.
If ye don't give Anthony a fair showin', he'll set up business on
his own account, and pocket the comins in. Now! thar's Dan Bengal
and his dogs; they can do a thing or two in the way of trade now and
then; but it requires the cunnin as well as the plucky part of a
feller. It makes a great go when they're combined, though,--they
ala's makes sure game and slap-up profit."

"Hold a stave, Anthony," interrupted a grim-visaged individual who
had just filled his glass with whiskey, which he declared was only
to counteract the effect of what he had already taken. He begs they
will not think him half so stupid as he seems, says he is always
well behaved in genteel society, and is fully convinced from the
appearance of things that they are all gentlemen. He wears a
semi-bandittical garb, which, with his craven features, presents his
character in all its repulsiveness. "You needn't reckon on that
courage o' yourn, old fellow; this citizen can go two pins above it.
If you wants a showin', just name the mark. I've seed ye times
enough,--how ye would not stand ramrod when a nigger looked lightning
at ye. Twice I seed a nigger make ye show flum; and ye darn't make
the cussed critter toe the line trim up, nohow," he mumbles out,
dropping his tumbler on the table, spilling his liquor. They are
Graspum's "men;" they move as he directs-carry out his plans of
trade in human flesh. Through these promulgators of his plans, his
plots, his desperate games, he has become a mighty man of trade.
They are all his good fellows-they are worth their weight in gold;
but he can purchase their souls for any purpose, at any price! "Ah,
yes, I see-the best I can do don't satisfy. My good fellows, you are
plum up on business, do the square thing; but you're becomin' a
little too familiar. Doing the nigger business is one thing, and
choosing company's another. Remember, gentlemen, I hold a position
in society, I do," says Graspum, all the dignity of his dear self
glowing in his countenance.

"I see! There's no spoilin' a gentleman what's got to be one by his
merits in trade. Thar's whar ye takes the shine out of us. Y'er
gentleman gives ye a right smart chance to walk into them ar' big
bugs what's careless,--don't think yer comin' it over 'em with a sort
o' dignity what don't 'tract no s'picion." rejoined Romescos, taking
up his hat, and placing it carelessly on his head, as if to assure
Graspum that he is no better than the rest.

"Comprehend me, comprehend me, gentlemen! There can, and must be,
dignity in nigger trading; it can be made as honourable as any other
branch of business. For there is an intricacy about our business
requiring more dignity and ability than general folks know. You
fellers couldn't carry out the schemes, run the law down, keep your
finger on people's opinion, and them sort o' things, if I didn't
take a position in society what 'ud ensure puttin' ye straight
through. South's the place where position's worth somethin'; and
then, when we acts independent, and don't look as if we cared two
toss-ups, ah!"

"I wonder you don't set up a dignity shop, and go to selling the
article;-might have it manufactured to sell down south."

"Ah, Romescos," continued Graspum, "you may play the fool; but you
must play it wisely to make it profitable. Here, position puts law
at defiance!-here it puts croakers over humanity to rest-here, when
it has money, it makes lawyers talk round the points, get fat among
themselves, fills the old judge's head with anything; so that he
laughs and thinks he don't know nothin'. Listen to what I'm goin' to
say, because you'll all make somethin' out on't. I've just got the
dignity to do all; and with the coin to back her up, can safe every
chance. When you fellers get into a snarl running off a white 'un,
or a free nigger, I has to bring out the big talk to make it seem
how you didn't understand the thing. 'Tain't the putting the big on,
but it's the keepin' on it on. You'd laugh to see how I does it;
it's the way I keeps you out of limbo, though."

We have said these men were Graspum's "men;" they are more-they are
a band of outlaws, who boast of living in a free country, where its
institutions may be turned into despotism. They carry on a system of
trade in human bodies; they stain the fairest spots of earth with
their crimes. They set law at defiance-they scoff at the depths of
hell that yawn for them,--the blackness of their villainy is known
only in heaven. Earth cares little for it; and those familiar with
the devices of dealers in human bodies shrink from the shame of
making them known to the world. There was a discontent in the party,
a clashing of interests, occasioned by the meagre manner in which
Graspum had divided the spoils of their degradation. He had set his
dignity and position in society at a much higher value than they
were willing to recognise,--especially when it was to share the
spoils in proportion. Dan Bengal, so called from his ferocity of
character, was a celebrated dog-trainer and negro-hunter, "was great
in doing the savager portion of negro business." This, Romescos
contended, did not require so much cunning as his branch of the
business-which was to find "loose places," where doubtful whites see
out remnants of the Indian race, and free negroes could be found
easy objects of prey; to lay plots, do the "sharp," carry out plans
for running all free rubbish down south, where they would sell for

"True! it's all true as sunshine," says Romescos; "we understand Mr.
Graspum inside and out. But ye ain't paid a dime to get me out of
any scrape. I was larned to nigger business afore I got into the
'tarnal thing; and when I just gits me eye on a nigger what nobody
don't own, I comes the sly over him-puts him through a course of
nigger diplomacy. The way he goes down to the Mississippi is a
caution to nigger property!"

He has enlisted their attention, all eyes are set upon him, every
voice calls out to know his process. He begs they will drink round;
they fill their glasses, and demand that he will continue the
interest of his story.

"My plans are worth a fortune to those who follow the business," he
says, giving his glass a twirl as he sets it upon the table, and

"Born 'cute, you see; trade comes natural. Afore a free 'un don't
know it, I has him bonded and tucked off for eight or nine hundred
dollars, slap-up, cash and all. And then, ye sees, it's worth
somethin' in knowin' who to sell such criturs too-so that the brute
don't git a chance to talk about it without getting his back
troubled. And then, it requires as much knowin' as a senator's got
just to fix things as smooth so nobody won't know it; and just like
ye can jingle the coin in yer pocket, for the nigger, what
everybody's wonderin' where he can be gone to. I tell ye what, it
takes some stameny to keep the price of a prime feller in your
pocket, and wonder along with the rest where the rascal can be. If
you'd just see Bob Osmand doe it up, you'd think his face was made
for a methodist deacon in camp meeting-time. The way he comes it
when he wants to prove a free nigger's a runaway, would beat all the
disciples of Blackstone between here and old Kentuck. And then,
Bob's any sort of a gentleman, what you don't get in town every day,
and wouldn't make a bad senator, if he'd bin in Congress when the
compromise was settled upon,--'cos he can reason right into just
nothin' at all. Ye see it ain't the feelings that makes a feller a
gentleman in our business, it's knowing the human natur o' things;
how to be a statesman, when ye meets the like, how to be a
gentleman, and talk polite things, and sich like; how to be a jolly
fellow, an' put the tall sayings into the things of life; and when
ye gets among the lawyers, to know all about the pintes of the law,
and how to cut off the corners, so they'll think ye're bin a parish
judge. And then, when ye comes before the squire, just to talk
dignity to him-tell him where the law is what he don't seem to
comprehend. You've got to make a right good feller of the squire by
sticking a fee under his vest-pocket when he don't obsarve it. And
then, ye know, when ye make the squire a right good feller, you must
keep him to the point; and when there's any swarin' to be done, he's
just as easily satisfied as the law. It's all business, you see; and
thar's just the same kind a thing in it; because profit rules
principle, and puts a right smart chance o' business into their
hands without troubling their consciences. But then, Bob ain't got
the cunnin' in him like I-nor he can't "rope-in on the sly,"-knock
down and drag out, and just tell a whole possee to come on, as I do.
And that's what ye don't seem to come at, Graspum," said Romescos,
again filling his glass, and drawing a long black pipe from his
pocket prepares it for a smoke.

"Now, the trouble is, you all think you can carry out these matters
on your own hook; but it's no go, and you'll find it so. It's a
scheme that must have larger means at the head of it; and each man's
rights must be stipulated, and paid according to his own enterprise.
But this discontent is monstrous and injurious, and if continued
will prove unprofitable. You see, fellers, you've no responsibility,
and my position is your protection, and if you don't get rich you
must not charge the blame to me; and then just see how you live now
to what you did when ranging the piny woods and catching a stray
nigger here and there, what didn't hardly pay dog money. There's a
good deal in the sport of the thing, too; and ye know it amounts to
a good deal to do the gentleman and associate with big folks, who
puts the business into one's hands, by finding out who's got lean
purses and prime niggers," rejoined Graspum, very coolly.

"Ah, yes; that's the way ye comes it over these haristocrats, by
doin' the modest. Now, Graspum, 'tain't no trouble to leak a sap
like that Lorenzo, and make his friends stand the blunt after we've
roped him into your fixings," replied Romescos.

"No, no; not a bit of it," resounded several voices. "We do all the
dragwork with the niggers, and Graspum gets the tin."

"But he pays for the drink. Come, none of this bickering; we must
agree upon business, and do the thing up brown under the old
system," interrupted another.

"Hold! close that bread trap o' yourn," Romescos shouts at the top
of his voice. "You're only a green croaker from the piny woods,
where gophers crawl independent; you ain't seen life on the borders
of Texas. Fellers, I can whip any man in the crowd,--can maker the
best stump speech, can bring up the best logic; and can prove that
the best frightenin' man is the best man in the nigger business.
Now, if you wants a brief sketch of this child's history, ye can
have it." Here Romescos entered into an interesting account of
himself. He was the descendant of a good family, living in the city
of Charleston; his parents, when a youth, had encouraged his
propensities for bravery. Without protecting them with that medium
of education which assimilates courage with gentlemanly conduct,
carrying out the nobler impulses of our nature, they allowed him to
roam in that sphere which produces its ruffians. At the age of
fifteen he entered a counting-room, when his quick mercurial
temperament soon rendered him expert at its minor functions. Three
years had hardly elapsed when, in a moment of passion, he drew his
dirk, (a weapon he always carried) and, in making a plunge at his
antagonist, inflicted a wound in the breast of a near friend. The
wound was deep, and proved fatal. For this he was arraigned before a
jury, tried for his life. He proved the accident by an existing
friendship-he was honourably acquitted. His employer, after
reproaching him for his proceedings, again admitted him into his
employment. Such, however, was his inclination to display the
desperado, that before the expiration of another year he killed a
negro, shot two balls at one of his fellows, one of which was well
nigh proving fatal, and left the state. His recklessness, his
previous acts of malignity, his want of position, all left him
little hope of escaping the confines of a prison. Fleeing to parts
unknown, his absence relieved the neighbourhood of a responsibility.
For a time, he roamed among farmers and drovers in the mountains of
Tennessee; again he did menial labour, often forced to the direst
necessity to live. One day, when nearly famished, he met a
slave-driver, conducting his coffle towards the Mississippi, to whom
he proffered his services. The coarse driver readily accepted them;
they proceeded on together, and it was not long before they found
themselves fitting companions. The one was desperate-the other
traded in desperation. An ardent nature, full of courage and
adventure, was a valuable acquisition to the dealer, who found that
he had enlisted a youngster capable of relieving him of inflicting
that cruelty so necessary to his profession. With a passion for
inflicting torture, this youth could now gratify it upon those
unfortunate beings of merchandise who were being driven to the
shambles: he could gloat in the exercise of those natural
propensities which made the infliction of pain a pleasant
recreation. In the trade of human flesh all these cruel traits
became valuable; they enabled him to demand a good price for his
services. Initiated in all the mysteries of the trade, he was soon
entrusted with gangs of very considerable extent; then he made
purchases, laid plans to entrap free negroes, performed the various
intricacies of procuring affidavits with which to make slave
property out of free flesh. Nature was nature, and what was hard in
him soon became harder; he could crib "doubtful white stuff" that
was a nuisance among folks, and sell it for something he could put
in his pocket. In this way Romescos accumulated several hundred
dollars; but avarice increased, and with it his ferocity. It
belonged to the trade, a trade of wanton depravity. He became the
terror of those who assumed to look upon a negro's sufferings with
sympathy, scoffing at the finer feelings of mankind. Twice had his
rapacity been let loose-twice had it nearly brought him to the
gallows, or to the tribunal of Judge Lynch. And now, when completely
inured in the traffic of human flesh,--that traffic which transposes
man into a demon, his progress is checked for a while by a false

It was this; and this only to the deep disgrace of the freest and
happiest country on earth. A poor orphan girl, like many of her
class in our hospitable slave world, had been a mere cast-off upon
the community. She knew nothing of the world, was ignorant, could
neither read nor write,--something quite common in the south, but
seldom known in New England. Thus she became the associate of
depraved negroes, and again, served Romescos as a victim. Not
content with this, after becoming tired of her, he secured her in
the slave-pen of one of his fellow traders. Here he kept her for
several weeks, closely confined, feeding her with grits. Eventually
"running" her to Vicksburg, he found an accomplice to sign a bill of
sale, by which he sold her to a notorious planter, who carried her
into the interior. The wretched girl had qualities which the planter
saw might, with a little care, be made extremely valuable in the New
Orleans market,--one was natural beauty. She was not suitable
property for the agricultural department of either a cotton or sugar
plantation, nor was she "the stripe" to increase prime stock; hence
she must be prepared for the general market. When qualified
according to what the planter knew would suit the fancy market, she
was conveyed to New Orleans, a piece of property bright as the very
brightest, very handsome, not very intelligent,--just suited to the
wants of bidders.

Here, at the shambles in the crescent city, she remained guarded,
and for several weeks was not allowed to go beyond the door-sill;
after which a sale was effected of her with the keeper of a brothel,
for the good price of thirteen hundred dollars. In this sink of
iniquity she remained nearly two years. Fearing the ulterior
consequences, she dared not assert her rights to freedom, she dared
not say she was born free in a free country. Her disappearance from
the village in which she had been reared caused some excitement; but
it soon reduced itself to a very trifling affair. Indeed, white
trash like this was considered little else than rubbish, not worth
bringing up respectably. And while suspicion pointed to Romescos, as
the person who could account for her mysterious disappearance, such
was the fear of his revenge that no one dared be the accuser.
Quietly matters rested, poor virtue was mean merchandise, had its
value, could be bought and sold-could be turned to various uses,
except enlisting the sympathies of those who study it as a market
commodity. A few days passed and all was hushed; no one enquired
about the poor orphan, Martha Johnson. In the hands of her creole
owner, who held her as a price for licentious purposes, she
associated with gentlemen of polite manners-of wealth and position.
Even this, though profane, had advantages, which she employed for
the best of purposes; she learned to read and to write,--to
assimilate her feelings with those of a higher class. Society had
degraded her, she had not degraded herself. One night, as the
promiscuous company gathered into the drawing-room, she recognised a
young man from her native village; the familiar face inspired her
with joy, her heart leaped with gladness; he had befriended her poor
mother-she knew he had kind feelings, and would be her friend once
her story was told. The moments passed painfully; she watched him
restlessly through the dance,--sat at his side. Still he did not
recognise her,--toilet had changed her for another being; but she had
courted self-respect rather than yielded to degradation. Again she
made signs to attract his attention; she passed and repassed him,
and failed. Have I thus changed, she thought to herself.

At length she succeeded in attracting his attention; she drew him
aside, then to her chamber. In it she disclosed her touching
narrative, unfolded her sorrows, appealed to him with tears in her
eyes to procure her freedom and restore her to her rights. Her story
enlisted the better feelings of a man, while her self-respect, the
earnestness with which she pleaded her deliverance, and the
heartlessness of the act, strongly rebuked the levity of those who
had made her an orphan outcast in her own village. She was then in
the theatre of vice, surrounded by its allurements, consigned to its
degradation, a prey to libertinism-yet respecting herself. The
object of his visit among the denizens was changed to a higher
mission, a duty which he owed to his moral life,--to his own
manliness. He promised his mediation to better her eventful and
mysterious life, to be a friend to her; and nobly did he keep his
promise. On the following day he took measures for her rescue, and
though several attempts were made to wrest her from him, and the
mendacity of slave-dealers summoned to effect it, he had the
satisfaction of seeing her restored to her native village,--to
freedom, to respectability.

We withhold the details of this too true transaction, lest we should
be classed among those who are endeavouring to create undue
excitement. The orphan girl we here refer to was married to a
respectable mechanic, who afterwards removed to Cincinnati, and with
his wife became much respected citizens.

Proceedings were after some delay commenced against Romescos,
but,--we trust it was not through collusion with officials-he escaped
the merited punishment that would have been inflicted upon him by a
New England tribunal. Again he left the state, and during his
absence it is supposed he was engaged in nefarious practices with
the notorious Murrel, who carried rapine and death into the
unoffending villages of the far west. However, be this as it may,
little was known of him for several years, except in some desperate
encounter. The next step in his career of desperation known, was
joining a band of guerillos led by one of the most intrepid captains
that infested the borders of Mexico, during the internal warfare by
which her Texan provinces struggled for independence. Freebooters,
they espoused the Texan cause because it offered food for their
rapacity, and through it they became formidable and desperate foes
to the enemy. They were the terror of the ranchoes, the inhabitants
fled at their approach; their pillage, rapine, and slaughtering,
would stain the annals of barbarous Africa. They are buried, let us
hope for the name of a great nation, that they may remain beneath
the pale of oblivion.

In their incursions, as mounted riflemen, they besieged villages,
slaughtered the inhabitants, plundered churches, and burned
dwellings; they carried off captive females, drove herds of cattle
to distant markets. Through the auspices of this band, as is now
well known, many young females were carried off and sold into
slavery, where they and their offspring yet remain. While pursuing
this nefarious course of life, Romescos accumulated more than twenty
thousand dollars; and yet,--though ferocity increased with the
daring of his profession,--there was one impulse of his nature,
deeply buried, directing his ambition. Amid the dangers of war, the
tumult of conflict, the passion for daring-this impulse kept alive
the associations of home,--it was love! In early life he had formed
an attachment for a beautiful young lady of his native town; it had
ripened with his years; the thoughts of her, and the hope of
regaining her love if he gained wealth, so worked upon his mind that
he resolved to abandon the life of a guerillo, and return home.
After an absence of fourteen years he found the object of his early
love,--that woman who had refused to requite his affection,--a widow,
having buried her husband, a gentleman of position, some months

Romescos had money,--the man was not considered; he is not considered
where slavery spreads its vices to corrupt social life. He had been
careful to keep his business a profound secret, and pressing his
affections, soon found the object of his ambition keenly sensitive
to his advances. Rumour recounted his character with mystery and
suspicion; friends remonstrated, but in vain; they were united
despite all opposition, all appeals. For a time he seemed a better
man, the business he had followed harassed his mind, seeming to
haunt him, and poison his progress. He purchased a plantation on the
banks of the Santee; for once resolved to pursue an honest course,
to be a respectable citizen, and enjoy the quiet of home.

A year passed: he might have enjoyed the felicity of domestic life,
the affections of a beautiful bride; but the change was too sudden
for his restless spirit. He was not made to enjoy the quiet of life,
the task stood before him like a mountain without a pass, he could
not wean himself from the vices of a marauder. He had abused the
free offerings of a free country, had set law at defiance; he had
dealt in human flesh, and the task of resistance was more than the
moral element in his nature could effect. Violations of human laws
were mere speculations to him; they had beguiled him, body and soul.
He had no apology for violating personal feeling; what cared he for
that small consideration, when the bodies of men, women, and
children could be sacrificed for that gold which would give him
position among the men of the south. If he carried off poor whites,
and sold them into slavery, he saw no enormity in the performance;
the law invested him with power he made absolute. Society was
chargeable with all his wrongs, with all his crimes, all his
enormities. He had repeatedly told it so, pointing for proof to that
literal observance of the rule by which man is made mere
merchandise. Society had continued in its pedantic folly,
disregarding legal rights, imposing no restraints on the holder of
human property, violating its spirit and pride by neglecting to
enforce the great principles of justice whereby we are bound to
protect the lives of those unjustly considered inferior beings. Thus
ends a sketch of what Romescos gave of his own career.

We now find him associated with the desperadoes of slave-dealing, in
the scene we have presented. After Romescos had related what he
called the romance of his life,--intended, no doubt, to impress the
party with his power and intrepidity, and enable him to set a higher
value upon his services,--he lighted a pipe, threw his hat upon the
floor, commenced pacing up and down the room, as if labouring under
deep excitement. And while each one seemed watching him intently, a
loud knocking was heard at the door,--then the baying of
blood-hounds, the yelps of curs, mingling with the murmurs of those
poor wretches confined in the cells beneath. Then followed the
clanking of chains, cries, and wailings, startling and fearful.

Dan Bengal sprang to the door, as if conscious of its import. A
voice demanded admittance; and as the door opened Bengal exclaimed,
"Halloo!-here's Nath Nimrod: what's the tune of the adventure?"

A short, stout man entered, dressed in a coarse homespun hunting
dress, a profuse black beard and moustache nearly covering his face.
"I is'nt so bad a feller a'ter all-is I?" he says, rushing forward
into the centre of the room, followed by four huge hounds. They were
noble animals, had more instinctive gentleness than their masters,
displayed a knowledge of the importance of the prize they had just

"Hurrah for Nath! hurrah! hurrah! hurrah, for Nath! You got him,
Nath-did'nt ye?" resounded from several tongues, and was followed by
a variety of expressions highly complimentary to his efficiency.

Romescos, however, remained silent, pacing the floor unconcerned,
except in his own anxiety-as if nothing had occurred to disturb him.
Advancing to the table, the new visitor, his face glowing with
exultation, held forth, by the crispy hair, the blanched and bloody
head of an unfortunate negro who had paid the penalty of the State's
allowance for outlaws. "There: beat that, who can? Four hundred
dollars made since breakfast;" he cries out at the top of his voice.
They cast a measured look at the ghastly object, as if it were a
precious ornament, much valued for the price it would bring,
according to law. The demon expresses his joy, descants on his
expertness and skill, holds up his prize again, turns it round,
smiles upon it as his offering, then throws it into the fire place,
carelessly, like a piece of fuel. The dogs spring upon it, as if the
trophy was for their feast; but he repulses them; dogs are not so
bad after all-the canine is often the better of the two-the morsel
is too precious for canine dogs,--human dogs must devour it. "There
is nothing like a free country, nothing; and good business, when
it's well protected by law," says Nimrod, seating himself at the
table, filling a glass, bowing to his companions, drinking to the
health of his friends. He imagines himself the best fellow of the
lot. Taking Graspum by the hand, he says, "there is a clear hundred
for you, old patron!" pulls an Executive proclamation from his
pocket, and points to where it sets forth the amount of reward for
the outlaw-dead or alive. "I know'd whar the brute had his hole in
the swamp," he continues: "and I summed up the resolution to bring
him out. And then the gal o' Ginral Brinkle's, if I could pin her,
would be a clear fifty more, provided I could catch her without
damage, and twenty-five if the dogs havocked her shins. There was no
trouble in getting the fifty, seeing how my dogs were trained to the
point and call. Taste or no taste, they come square off at the word.
To see the critters trace a nigger, you'd think they had human in
them; they understands it so! But, I tell you what, it's one thing
to hunt a gal nigger, and another to run down an outlaw what has had
two or three years in the swamp. The catching him's not much, but
when ye have to slide the head off, all the pious in yer natur comes
right up to make yer feelings feel kind a' softish. However, the law
protects ye, and the game being only a nigger, different rules and
things govern one's feelings."

Bengal interrupts by laconically insinuating-raising his moody face,
and winking at Graspum-that it was all moonshine to talk about
trouble in that kind of business; "It's the very highest of
exhilarating sport!" he concludes emphatically.

"Dan!" returns the other, with a fierce stare, as he seizes the
bottle and is about to enjoy a glass of whisky uninvited; "let your
liquor stop your mouth. I set the whole pack upon the trail at
daylight, and in less than two hours they came upon him, bolted him,
and put him to the river. The leader nabbed him about half way
across, but the chap, instead of giving in, turned and fought like a
hero. Twice I thought he would whip the whole pack, but the way they
made the rags fly warn't nobody's business. Well, I just come up
with him as he plunged into the stream, lifts old sure mark, as
gives him about a dozen plugs; and then the old feller begged just
so, you'd thought he was a Christian pleadin' forgiveness at the
last moment. But, when I seizes him and gives him three or four
levellers with the butt of the rifle, ye never saw a sarpent plunge,
and struggle, and warp so. Says I, 'It's no use, old feller,--yer
might as well give her up;' and the way his eyes popped, just as if
he expected I war'nt goin to finish him. I tell ye, boys, it
required some spunk about then, for the critter got his claws upon
me with a death grip, and the dogs ripped him like an old corn
stalk, and would'nt keep off. And then there was no fracturin his
skull; and seeing how he was overpowering me, I just seizes him by
the throat and pops his head off quicker than a Chinese executioner."

The author has given the language of the slave-hunter who related
the case personally.

"Now, thar' war'nt so much in takin' the gal, cos jist when she seed
the dogs comin', the critter took to tree and gin right up: but when
I went to muzlin' on her, so she could'nt scream, then she gets
saucy; and I promised to gin her bricks,--which, fellers, I reckon
yer must take a hand in so the brute won't wake the neighbours; and
I'll do'e it afore I sleeps," said Nimrod, getting up from the table
and playfully touching Romescos upon the arm. "I see ye ain't
brightened to-day--Graspum's share don't seem to suit yer, old
feller; ah! ah!!" he continued.

"Just put another ten per cent. upon the out-lining, and running
free 'uns, and I'll stand flint," said Romescos, seeming to be acted
upon by a sudden change of feelings, as he turned to Graspum, with a
look of anxiety.

"Very well," returned Graspum. "Yer see, there's that Marston affair
to be brought to a point; and his affairs are just in such a fix
that he don't know what's what, nor who's who. Ther'll have to be
some tall swearing done in that case afore it's brought to the
hammer. That cunning of yours, Romescos, will just come into play in
this case. It'll be just the thing to do the crooked and get round
the legal points." Thus Graspum, with the dignity and assurance of a
gentleman, gave his opinion, drank with his companions, and withdrew
for the night.

Romescos, Bengal, and Nimrod, soon after descended into the vaults
below, followed by a negro bearing a lantern. Here they unbolted one
of the cells, dragged forth a dejected-looking mulatto woman, her
rags scarcely covering her nakedness. The poor wretch, a child born
to degradation and torture, whose cries were heard in heaven, heaved
a deep sigh, then gave vent to a flood of tears. They told how deep
was her anguish, how she struggled against injustice, how sorrow was
burning her very soul. The outpourings of her feelings might have
aroused the sympathies of savage hearts; but the slave monsters were
unmoved. Humbleness, despair, and even death, sat upon her very
countenance; hope had fled her, left her a wreck for whom man had no
pity. And though her prayers ascended to heaven, the God of mercy
seemed to have abandoned her to her tormentors. She came forward
trembling and reluctantly, her countenance changed; she gave a
frowning look at her tormentors, wild and gloomy, shrank back into
the cell, the folds of straight, black hair hanging about her

"Come out here!" Nimrod commands in an angry tone; then, seizing her
by the arm, dragged her forth, and jerked her prostrate on the
ground. Here, like as many fiends in human form, the rest fell upon
her, held her flat to the floor by the hands and feet, her face
downwards, while Nimrod, with a raw hide, inflicted thirty lashes on
her bare back. Her cries and groans, as she lay writhing, the flesh
hanging in quivering shreds, and lifting with the lash,--her appeals
for mercy, her prayers to heaven, her fainting moans as the agony of
her torture stung into her very soul, would have touched a heart of
stone. But, though her skin had not defiled her in the eyes of the
righteous, there was none to take pity on her, nor to break the
galling chains; no! the punishment was inflicted with the measured
coolness of men engaged in an every-day vocation. It was simply the
right which a democratic law gave men to become lawless, fierce in
the conspiracy of wrong, and where the legal excitement of
trafficking in the flesh and blood of one another sinks them
unconsciously into demons.



THE caption, a common saying among negroes at the south, had its
origin in a consciousness, on the part of the negro, of the many
liabilities to which his master's affairs are subject, and his own
dependence on the ulterior consequences. It carries with it a deep
significance, opens a field for reflection, comprehends the negro's
knowledge of his own uncertain state, his being a piece of property
the good or evil of which is effected by his master's caprices, the
binding force of the law that makes him merchandise. Nevertheless,
while the negro feels them in all their force, the master values
them only in an abstract light. Ask the negro whose master is kind
to him, if he would prefer his freedom and go north?-At first he
will hesitate, dilate upon his master's goodness, his affection for
him, the kindly feeling evinced for him by the family-they often
look upon him with a patriarchal tenderness-and, finally, he will
conclude by telling you he wishes master and missus would live for
ever. He tells you, in the very simplicity of his nature, that "Eve'
ting so unsartin! and mas'r don't know if he die when he gwine to."
That when he is dying he does not realise it; and though his
intention be good, death may blot out his desires, and he, the
dependent, being only a chattel, must sink into the uncertain stream
of slave-life. Marston's plantation might have been taken as an
illustration of the truth of this saying. Long had it been
considered one of eminent profit; his field slaves were well cared
for; his favourite house servants had every reasonable indulgence
granted them. And, too, Marston's mansion was the pleasant retreat
of many a neighbour, whose visits were welcomed by the kindly
attention he had taught his domestics to bestow. Marston's fault lay
in his belonging to that class of planters who repose too much
confidence in others.

The morning following Lorenzo's departure ushered forth bright and
balmy. A quiet aspect reigned in and about the plantation, servants
moved sluggishly about, the incidents of the preceding night
oppressed Marston's mind; his feelings broke beyond his power of
restraint. Like contagion, the effect seized each member of his
household,--forcibly it spoke in word and action! Marston had
bestowed much care upon Lorenzo and Franconia; he had indulged and
idolised the latter, and given the former some good advice. But
advice without example seldom produces lasting good; in truth,
precept had the very worst effect upon Lorenzo,--it had proved his
ruin! His singular and mysterious departure might for a time be
excused,--even accounted for in some plausible manner, but suspicion
was a stealing monster that would play upon the deeply tinctured
surface, and soar above in disgrace. That the Rovero family were
among the first of the State would not be received as a palliation;
they had suffered reverses of fortune, and, with the addition of
Lorenzo's profligacy, which had been secretly drawing upon their
resources, were themselves well nigh in discredit. And now that this
sudden and unexpected reverse had befallen Marston, he could do
nothing for their relief. Involved, perplexed, and distrusted-with
ever-slaying suspicion staring him in the face-he was a victim
pursued by one who never failed to lay low his object. That man
moved with unerring method, could look around him upon the
destitution made by his avarice, without evincing a shadow of
sympathy. Yes! he was in the grasp of a living Shylock, whose soul,
worn out in the love of gold, had forgotten that there existed a
distinction between right and wrong.

Surrounded by all these dark forebodings, Marston begins to reflect
on his past life. He sees that mercy which overlooks the sins of man
when repentance is pure; but his life is full of moral blemishes; he
has sinned against the innocent, against the God of forgiveness. The
inert of his nature is unfolding itself,--he has lived according to
the tolerated vices of society-he has done no more than the law gave
him a right to do! And yet, that very society, overlooking its own
wrongs, would now strip him of its associations. He lives in a State
where it is difficult to tell what society will approve or
reprobate; where a rich man may do with impunity what would consign
a poor man to the gallows.

If we examine the many rencontres that take place in the south,
especially those proving fatal, we will find that the perpetrator,
if he be a rich man, invariably receives an "honourable acquittal."
Again, when the man of position shoots down his victim in the
streets of a city, he is esteemed brave; but a singular reversion
takes place if the rencontre be between poor men. It is then a
diabolical act, a murder, which nothing short of the gallows can
serve for punishment. The creatures whom he had made mere objects to
serve his sensuality were before him; he traced the gloomy history
of their unfortunate sires; he knew that Ellen and Clotilda were
born free. The cordon that had bound his feelings to the system of
slavery relaxed. For the first time, he saw that which he could not
recognise in his better nature-himself the medium of keeping human
beings in slavery who were the rightful heirs of freedom. The
blackness of the crime-its cruelty, its injustice-haunted him; they
were at that very moment held by Graspum's caprice. He might doom
the poor wretches to irretrievable slavery, to torture and death!
Then his mind wandered to Annette and Nicholas; he saw them of his
own flesh and blood; his natural affections bounded forth; how could
he disown them? The creations of love and right were upon him,
misfortune had unbound his sensations; his own offspring stood
before him clothed in trouble thick and dangerous. His follies have
entailed a life-rent of misery upon others; the fathomless depth of
the future opens its yawning jaws to swallow up those upon whom the
fondness of a father should have been bestowed for their moral and
physical good.

As he sits contemplating this painful picture, Aunt Rachel enters
the room to inquire if Lorenzo breakfasts with them. "Why! old
mas'r, what ail ye dis mornin'? Ye don't seems nohow. Not a stripe
like what ye was yesterday; somethin' gi 'h de wrong way, and mas'r
done know what i' is," she mutters to herself, looking seriously at

"Nothing! old bustler; nothing that concerns you. Do not mention
Lorenzo's name again; he has gone on a journey. Send my old faithful
Daddy Bob to me." Rachel hastened to fulfil the command; soon
brought the old servant to the door. His countenance lighted up with
smiles as he stood at the doorway, bowing and scraping, working his
red cap in his hand. There stood the old man, a picture of

"Come in, Bob, come in!" Marston says, motioning his hand, "I wish
the world was as faithful as you are. You are worthy the indulgence
I have bestowed upon you; let me hope there is something better in
prospect for you. My life reproves me; and when I turn and review
its crooked path-when I behold each inconsistency chiding me-I
lament what I cannot recall." Taking the old man by the hand, the
tears glistening in his eyes, he looks upon him as a father would
his child.

"In a short time, Bob, you shall be free to go where you please, on
the plantation or off it. But remember, Bob, you are old-you have
grown grey in faithfulness,--the good southerner is the true friend
of the negro! I mean he is the true friend of the negro, because he
has associated with him from childhood, assimilated with his
feelings, made his nature a study. He welcomes him without reserve,
approaches him without that sensitiveness and prejudice which the
northerner too often manifests towards him. You shall be free, Bob!
you shall be free!-free to go where you please; but you must remain
among southerners, southerners are your friends."

"Yes, mas'r, 'im all just so good, if t'warn't dat I so old. Free
nigger, when 'e old, don't gwane to get along much. Old Bob tink on
dat mighty much, he do dat! Lef Bob free win 'e young, den 'e get
tru' de world like Buckra, only lef 'im de chance what Buckra hab.
Freedom ain't wof much ven old Bob worn out, mas'r; and Buckra what
sell nigger,--what make 'e trade on him, run 'im off sartin. He sell
old nigger what got five dollar wof' a work in 'e old bones. Mas'r
set 'um free, bad Buckra catch 'um, old Bob get used up afo' he know
nofin," quaintly replied the old man, seeming to have an instinctive
knowledge of the "nigger trade," but with so much attachment for his
master that he could not be induced to accept his freedom.

"It's not the leaving me, Bob; you may be taken from me. You are
worth but little, 'tis true, and yet you may be sold from me to a
bad master. If the slave-dealers run you off, you can let me know,
and I will prosecute them," returned Marston.

"Ah! mas'r; dat's just whar de blunt is-in de unsartainty! How I
gwane to let mas'r know, when mas'r no larn nigger to read," he
quickly responded. There is something in his simple remark that
Marston has never before condescended to contemplate,--something the
simple nature of the negro has just disclosed; it lies deeply rooted
at the foundation of all the wrongs of slavery. Education would be
valuable to the negro, especially in his old age; it would soften
his impulses rather than impair his attachment, unless the master be
a tyrant fearing the results of his own oppression. Marston, a good
master, had deprived the old man of the means of protecting himself
against the avarice of those who would snatch him from freedom, and
while his flesh and blood contained dollars and cents, sell him into
slavery. Freedom, under the best circumstances, could do him little
good in his old age; and yet, a knowledge of the wrong rankled deep
in Marston's feelings: he could relieve it only by giving Daddy Bob
and Harry their freedom if they would accept it.

Relinquishing Daddy's hand, he commanded him to go and bring him
Annette and Nicholas. "Bring them," he says, "without the knowledge
of their mothers." Bob withdrew, hastened to the cabins in the yard
to fulfil the mission. Poor things, thought Marston; they are mine,
how can I disown them? Ah, there's the point to conquer-I cannot! It
is like the mad torrents of hell, stretched out before me to consume
my very soul, to bid me defiance. Misfortune is truly a great
purifier, a great regenerator of our moral being; but how can I make
the wrong right?-how can I live to hope for something beyond the
caprice of this alluring world? My frailties have stamped their
future with shame.

Thus he mused as the children came scampering into the room.
Annette, her flaxen curls dangling about her neck, looking as tidy
and bright as the skill of Clotilda could make her, runs to Marston,
throws herself on his knee, fondles about his bosom, kisses his hand
again and again. She loves him,--she knows no other father. Nicholas,
more shy, moves slowly behind a chair, his fingers in his mouth the
while. Looking through its rounds wistfully, he shakes his head
enviously, moves the chair backwards and forwards, and is too
bashful to approach Annette's position.

Marston has taken Annette in his arms, he caresses her; she twirls
her tiny fingers through his whiskers, as if to play with him in the
toying recognition of a father. He is deeply immersed in thought,
smooths her hair, walks to the glass with her in his arms, holds her
before it as if to detect his own features in the countenance of the
child. Resuming his seat, he sets her on one knee, calls Nicholas to
him, takes him on the other, and fondles them with an air of
kindness it had never before been their good fortune to receive at
his hands. He looked upon them again, and again caressed them,
parted their hair with his fingers. And as Annette would open her
eyes and gaze in his, with an air of sweetest acknowledgment, his
thoughts seemed contending with something fearful. He was in
trouble; he saw the enemy brooding over the future; he heaved a
sigh, a convulsive motion followed, a tear stealing down his cheek
told the tale of his reflections.

"Now, Daddy;" he speaks, directing himself to old Bob, who stands at
the door surprised at Marston's singular movements, "you are my
confidant, what do you think the world-I mean the people about the
district, about the city-would say if they knew these were mine? You
know, Bob,--you must tell me straight out, do they look like me?-have
they features like mine?" he inquires with rapid utterance.

"Mas'r, Bob don' like to say all he feels," meekly muttered the old

"There is the spot on which we lay the most unholy blot; and yet, it
recoils upon us when we least think. Unfortunate wretches bear them
unto us; yet we dare not make them our own; we blast their lives for
selfish ends, yield them to others, shield ourselves by a misnomer
called right! We sell the most interesting beings for a
price,--beings that should be nearest and dearest to our hearts."

The old slave's eyes glistened with excitement; he looked on
astonished, as if some extraordinary scene had surprised him. As his
agitation subsided, he continued, "Mas'r, I bin watch 'im dis long
time. Reckon how nobody wouldn't take 'em fo'h nobody else's-fo'h
true! Dar ain't no spozin' bout 'em, 'e so right smart twarn't no
use to guise 'em: da'h just like old Boss. Mas'r, nigger watch dem
tings mighty close; more close den Buckra, cos' Buckra tink 'e all
right when nigger tink 'e all wrong."

Marston is not quite content with this: he must needs put another
question to the old man. "You are sure there can be no mistaking
them for mine?" he rejoins, fixing his eyes upon the children with
an almost death-like stare, as Daddy leads them out of the room. The
door closes after them, he paces the room for a time, seats himself
in his chair again, and is soon absorbed in contemplation. "I must
do something for them-I must snatch them from the jaws of danger.
They are full of interest-they are mine; there is not a drop of
negro blood in their veins, and yet the world asks who are their
mothers, what is their history? Ah! yes; in that history lies the
canker that has eaten out the living springs of many lives. It is
that which cuts deepest. Had I known myself, done what I might have
done before it was too late, kindness would have its rewards; but I
am fettered, and the more I move the worse for them. Custom has laid
the foundation of wrong, the law protects it, and a free government
tolerates a law that shields iniquities blackening earth." In this
train of thought his mind wandered. He would send the children into
a free state, there to be educated; that they may live in the
enjoyment of those rights with which nature had blest them. The
obstacles of the law again stared him in the face; the wrong by
which they were first enslaved, now forgotten, had brought its

Suddenly arousing from his reverie, he started to his feet, and
walking across the floor, exclaimed in an audible voice, "I will
surmount all difficulties,--I will recognise them as my children; I
will send them where they may become ornaments of society, instead
of living in shame and licentiousness. This is my resolve, and I
will carry it out, or die!"



THE document Marston signed for Lorenzo-to release him from the
difficulties into which he had been drawn by Graspum-guaranteed the
holder against all loss. This, in the absence of Lorenzo, and under
such stranger circumstances, implied an amount which might be
increased according to the will of the man into whose hands he had
so unfortunately fallen.

Nearly twelve months had now elapsed since the disclosure of the
crime. Maxwell, our young Englishman, had spent the time among the
neighbouring plantations; and failing to enlist more than friendly
considerations from Franconia, resolved to return to Bermuda and
join his family. He had, however, taken a deep interest in Clotilda
and Annette,--had gone to their apartment unobserved, and in secret
interviews listened to Clotilda's tale of trouble. Its recital
enlisted his sympathies; and being of an ardent and impressible
temper, he determined to carry out a design for her relief. He
realised her silent suffering,--saw how her degraded condition
wrangled with her noble feelings,--how the true character of a woman
loathed at being the slave of one who claimed her as his property.
And this, too, without the hope of redeeming herself, except by some
desperate effort. And, too, he saw but little difference between the
blood of Franconia and the blood of Clotilda; the same outline of
person was there,--her delicate countenance, finely moulded bust,
smoothly converging shoulders. There was the same Grecian cast of
face, the same soft, reflective eyes,--filling a smile with
sweetness, and again with deep-felt sorrow. The same sensitive
nature, ready to yield forth love and tenderness, or to press onward
the more impassioned affections, was visible in both. And yet, what
art had done for Franconia nature had replenished for Clotilda. But,
the servile hand was upon her, she crouched beneath its grasp; it
branded her life, and that of her child, with ignominy and death.

During these interviews he would watch her emotions as she looked
upon her child; when she would clasp it to her bosom, weeping, until
from the slightest emotion her feelings would become frantic with

"And you, my child, a mother's hope when all other pleasures are
gone! Are you some day to be torn from me, and, like myself, sent to
writhe under the coarse hand of a slave-dealer, to be stung with
shame enforced while asking God's forgiveness? Sometimes I think it
cannot be so; I think it must all be a dream. But it is so, and we
might as well submit, say as little of the hardship as possible, and
think it's all as they tell us-according to God's will," she would
say, pressing the child closer and closer to her bosom, the
agitation of her feelings rising into convulsions as the tears
coursed down her cheeks. Then she would roll her soft eyes upwards,
her countenance filling with despair. The preservation of her child
was pictured in the depth of her imploring look. For a time her
emotions would recede into quiet,--she would smile placidly upon
Annette, forget the realities that had just swept her mind into such
a train of trouble.

One night, as Maxwell entered her apartment, he found her kneeling
at her bed-side, supplicating in prayer. The word, "Oh, God; not me,
but my child-guide her through the perils that are before her, and
receive her into heaven at last," fell upon his ear. He paused,
gazed upon her as if some angel spirit had touched the tenderest
chord of his feelings-listened unmoved. A lovely woman, an
affectionate mother, the offspring of a noble race,--herself forced
by relentless injustice to become an instrument of
licentiousness-stood before him in all that can make woman an
ornament to her sex. What to Ellen Juvarna seemed the happiness of
her lot, was pain and remorse to Clotilda; and when she arose there
was a nervousness, a shrinking in her manner, betokening
apprehension. "It is not now; it is hereafter. And yet there is no
glimmer of hope!" she whispers, as she seats herself in a chair,
pulls the little curtain around the bed, and prepares to retire.

The scene so worked upon Maxwell's feelings that he could withstand
the effect no longer; he approached her, held out his hand, greeted
her with a smile: "Clotilda, I am your friend," he whispers, "come,
sit down and tell me what troubles you!"

"If what I say be told in confidence?" she replied, as if
questioning his advance.

"You may trust me with any secret; I am ready to serve you, if it be
with my life!"

Clasping her arms round her child, again she wept in silence. The
moment was propitious--the summer sun had just set beneath dark
foliage in the west, its refulgent curtains now fading into mellow
tints; night was closing rapidly over the scene, the serene moon
shone softly through the arbour into the little window at her
bedside. Again she took him by the hand, invited him to sit down at
her side, and, looking imploringly in his face, continued,--"If you
are a friend, you can be a friend in confidence, in purpose. I am a
slave! yes, a slave; there is much in the word, more than most men
are disposed to analyse. It may seem simple to you, but follow it to
its degraded depths-follow it to where it sows the seeds of sorrow,
and there you will find it spreading poison and death, uprooting all
that is good in nature. Worse than that, my child is a slave too. It
is that which makes the wrong more cruel, that mantles the polished
vice, that holds us in that fearful grasp by which we dare not seek
our rights.

"My mother, ah! yes, my mother"-Clotilda shakes her head in sorrow.
"How strange that, by her misfortune, all, all, is misfortune for
ever! from one generation to another, sinking each life down, down,
down, into misery and woe. How oft she clasped my hand and whispered
in my ear: 'If we could but have our rights.' And she, my mother,--as
by that sacred name I called her-was fair; fairer than those who
held her for a hideous purpose, made her existence loathsome to
herself, who knew the right but forced the wrong. She once had
rights, but was stripped of them; and once in slavery who can ask
that right be done?"

"What rights have you beyond these?" he interrupted, suddenly.
"There is mystery in what you have said, in what I have seen;
something I want to solve. The same ardent devotion, tenderness,
affection,--the same touching chasteness, that characterises
Franconia, assimilates in you. You are a slave, a menial-she is
courted and caressed by persons of rank and station. Heavens! here
is the curse confounding the flesh and blood of those in high
places, making slaves of their own kinsmen, crushing out the spirit
of life, rearing up those broken flowers whose heads droop with
shame. And you want your freedom?"

"For my child first," she replied, quickly: "I rest my hopes of her
in the future."

Maxwell hesitated for a moment, as if contemplating some plan for
her escape, ran his fingers through his hair again and again, then
rested his forehead in his hand, as the perspiration stood in heavy
drops upon it. "My child!" There was something inexpressibly
touching in the words of a mother ready to sacrifice her own
happiness for the freedom of her child. And yet an awful
responsibility hung over him; should he attempt to gain their
freedom, and fail in carrying out the project, notwithstanding he
was in a free country, the act might cost him his life. But there
was the mother, her pride beaming forth in every action, a wounded
spirit stung with the knowledge of being a slave, the remorse of her
suffering soul-the vicissitudes of that sin thus forced upon her.
The temptation became irresistible.

"You are English!"-northerners and Englishmen know what liberty is.

Negroes at the South have a very high opinion of Northern cleverness
in devising means of procuring their liberty. The Author here uses
the language employed by a slave girl who frequently implored aid to
devise some plan by which she would be enabled to make her escape.
Northerners could do great things for us, if they would but know us
as we are, study our feelings, cast aside selfish motives, and
sustain our rights!" Clotilda now commenced giving Maxwell a history
of her mother,--which, however, we must reserve for another chapter.
"And my mother gave me this!" she said, drawing from her pocket a
paper written over in Greek characters, but so defaced as to be
almost unintelligible. "Some day you will find a friend who will
secure your freedom through that," she would say. "But freedom-that
which is such a boon to us-is so much feared by others that you must
mark that friend cautiously, know him well, and be sure he will not
betray the liberty you attempt to gain." And she handed him the
defaced paper, telling him to put it in his pocket.

"And where is your mother?"

"There would be a store of balm in that, if I did but know. Her
beauty doomed her to a creature life, which, when she had worn out,
she was sold, as I may be, God knows how soon. Though far away from
me, she is my mother still, in all that recollection can make her;
her countenance seems like a wreath decorating our past
associations. Shrink not when I tell it, for few shrink at such
things now,--I saw her chained; I didn't think much of it then, for I
was too young. And she took me in her arms and kissed me, the tears
rolled down her cheeks; and she said-'Clotilda, Clotilda, farewell!
There is a world beyond this, a God who knows our hearts, who
records our sorrows;' and her image impressed me with feelings I
cannot banish. To look back upon it seems like a rough pilgrimage;
and then when I think of seeing her again my mind gets lost in
hopeless expectations"--

"You saw her chained?" interrupted Maxwell.

"Yes, even chained with strong irons. It need not surprise you.
Slavery is a crime; and they chain the innocent lest the wrong
should break forth upon themselves." And she raised her hands to her
face, shook her head, and laid Annette in the little bed at the foot
of her own.

What is it that in chaining a woman, whether she be black as ebony
or white as snow, degrades all the traits of the southerner's
character, which he would have the world think noble? It is fear!
The monster which the southerner sees by day, tolerates in his
silence, protects as part and parcel of a legal trade, only clothes
him with the disgrace that menials who make themselves mere fiends
are guilty of, Maxwell thought to himself.

"I will set you free, if it cost my life!" he exclaimed.

"Hush, hush!" rejoined Clotilda: "remember those wretches on the
plantation. They, through their ignorance, have learned to wield the
tyranny of petty power; they look upon us with suspicious eyes. They
know we are negroes (white negroes, who are despicable in their
eyes), and feeling that we are more favoured, their envy is excited.
They, with the hope of gaining favour, are first to disclose a
secret. Save my child first, and then save me"--

"I will save you first; rest assured, I will save you;" he
responded, shaking her hand, bidding her good night. On returning to
the mansion he found Marston seated at the table in the
drawing-room, in a meditative mood. Good night, my friend!" he
accosted him.

"Ah, good night!" was the sudden response.

"You seem cast down?"

"No!-all's not as it seems with a man in trouble. How misfortune
quickens our sense of right! O! how it unfolds political and moral
wrongs! how it purges the understanding, and turns the good of our
natures to thoughts of justice. But when the power to correct is
beyond our reach we feel the wrong most painfully," Marston coldly

"It never is too late to do good; my word for it, friend Marston,
good is always worth its services. I am young and may serve you yet;
rise above trouble, never let trifles trouble a man like you. The
world seems wagging pleasantly for you; everybody on the plantation
is happy; Lorenzo has gone into the world to distinguish himself;
grief should never lay its scalpel in your feelings. Remember the
motto-peace, pleasantry, and plenty; they are things which should
always dispel the foreshadowing of unhappiness," says Maxwell,
jocularly, taking a chair at Marston's request, and seating himself
by the table.

Marston declares such consolation to be refreshing, but too easily
conceived to effect his purpose. The ripest fruits of vice often
produce the best moral reflections: he feels convinced of this
truth; but here the consequences are entailed upon others. The
degradation is sunk too deep for recovery by him,--his reflections
are only a burden to him. The principle that moves him to atone is
crushed by the very perplexity of the law that compels him to do
wrong. "There's what goads me," he says: "it is the system, the
forced condition making one man merchandise, and giving another
power to continue him as such." He arises from the table, his face
flushed with excitement, and in silence paces the room to and fro
for several minutes. Every now and then he watches at the
window,--looks out towards the river, and again at the pine-woods
forming a belt in the background, as if he expected some one from
that direction. The serene scene without, calm and beautiful,
contrasting with the perplexity that surrounded him within,
brought the reality of the change which must soon take place in his
affairs more vividly to his mind.

"Your feelings have been stimulated and modified by education; they
are keenly sensitive to right,--to justice between man and man. Those
are the beautiful results of early instruction. New England
education! It founds a principle for doing good; it needs no
contingencies to rouse it to action. You can view slavery with the
unprejudiced eye of a philosopher. Listen to what I am about to say:
but a few months have passed since I thought myself a man of
affluence, and now nothing but the inroads of penury are upon me.
The cholera (that scourge of a southern plantation) is again
sweeping the district: I cannot expect to escape it, and I am in the
hands of a greater scourge than the cholera,--a slow death-broker. He
will take from you that which the cholera would not deign to touch:
he has no more conscience than a cotton-press," says Marston,
reclining back in his chair, and calling the negro waiter.

The word conscience fell upon Maxwell's ear with strange effect. He
had esteemed Marston according to his habits-not a good test when
society is so remiss of its duties: he could not reconcile the touch
of conscience in such a person, nor could he realise the impulse
through which some sudden event was working a moral regeneration in
his mind. There was something he struggled to keep from notice. The
season had been unpropitious, bad crops had resulted; the cholera
made its appearance, swept off many of the best negroes, spread
consternation, nearly suspended discipline and labour. One by one
his negroes fell victims to its ravages, until it became
imperatively necessary to remove the remainder to the pine-woods.

Families might be seen here and there making their little
preparations to leave for the hills: the direful scourge to them was
an evil spirit, sent as a visitation upon their bad deeds. This they
sincerely believe, coupling it with all the superstition their
ignorance gives rise to. A few miles from the mansion, among the
pines, rude camps are spread out, fires burn to absorb the malaria,
to war against mosquitoes, to cook the evening meal; while, up
lonely paths, ragged and forlorn-looking negroes are quietly
wending their way to take possession. The stranger might view this
forest bivouac as a picture of humble life pleasantly domiciled; but
it is one of those unfortunate scenes, fruitful of evil, which beset
the planter when he is least able to contend against them. Such
events develope the sin of an unrighteous institution, bring its
supporters to the portals of poverty, consign harmless hundreds to
the slave-marts.

In this instance, however, we must give Marston credit for all that
was good in his intentions, and separate him from the system.
Repentance, however produced, is valuable for its example, and if
too late for present utility, seldom fails to have an ultimate
influence. Thus it was with Marston; and now that all these
inevitable disasters were upon him, he resolved to be a father to
Annette and Nicholas,--those unfortunates whom law and custom had
hitherto compelled him to disown.

Drawing his chair close to Maxwell, he lighted a cigar, and resumed
the disclosure his feelings had apparently interrupted a few minutes
before. "Now, my good friend, all these things are upon me; there is
no escaping the issue. My people will soon be separated from me; my
old, faithful servants, Bob and Harry, will regret me, and if they
fall into the hands of a knave, will die thinking of the old
plantation. As for Harry, I have made him a preacher,--his knowledge
is wonderfully up on Scripture; he has demonstrated to me that
niggers are more than mortal, or transitory things. My conscience
was touched while listening to one of his sermons; and then, to
think how I had leased him to preach upon a neighbouring plantation,
just as a man would an ox to do a day's work! Planters paid me so
much per sermon, as if the gospel were merchandise, and he a mere
thing falsifying all my arguments against his knowledge of the Word
of God. Well, it makes me feel as if I were half buried in my own
degradation and blindness. And then, again, they are our property,
and are bestowed upon us by a legal-"

"If that be wrong," interrupted Maxwell, "you have no excuse for
continuing it."

"True! That's just what I was coming at. The evil in its broadest
expanse is there. We look calmly on the external objects of the
system without solving its internal grievances,--we build a right
upon the ruins of ancient wrongs, and we swathe our thoughts with
inconsistency that we may make the curse of a system invulnerable.
It is not that we cannot do good under a bad system, but that we
cannot ameliorate it, lest we weaken the foundation. And yet all
this seems as nothing when I recall a sin of greater magnitude-a sin
that is upon me-a hideous blot, goading my very soul, rising up
against me like a mountain, over which I can see no pass. Again the
impelling force of conscience incites me to make a desperate effort;
but conscience rebukes me for not preparing the way in time. I could
translate my feelings further, but, in doing so, the remedy seems
still further from me-"

"Is it ever too late to try a remedy-to make an effort to surmount
great impediments-to render justice to those who have suffered from
such acts?" inquired Maxwell, interrupting Marston as he proceeded.

"If I could do it without sacrificing my honour, without exposing
myself to the vengeance of the law. We are great sticklers for
constitutional law, while we care little for constitutional justice.
There is Clotilda; you see her, but you don't know her history: if
it were told it would resound through the broad expanse of our land.
Yes, it would disclose a wrong, perpetrated under the smiles of
liberty, against which the vengeance of high Heaven would be
invoked. I know the secret, and yet I dare not disclose it; the
curse handed down from her forefathers has been perpetuated by me.
She seems happy, and yet she is unhappy; the secret recesses of her
soul are poisoned. And what more natural? for, by some unlucky
incident, she has got an inkling of the foul means by which she was
made a slave. To him who knows the right, the wrong is most painful;
but I bought her of him whose trade it was to sell such flesh and
blood! And yet that does not relieve me from the curse: there's the
stain; it hangs upon me, it involves my inclinations, it gloats over
my downfall-"

"You bought her!" again interrupts Maxwell.

"True," rejoins the other, quickly, "'tis a trade well protected by
our democracy. Once bought, we cannot relieve ourselves by giving
them rights in conflict with the claims of creditors. Our will may
be good, but the will without the means falls hopeless. My heart
breaks under the knowledge that those children are mine. It is a sad
revelation to make,--sad in the eyes of heaven and earth. My
participation in wrong has proved sorrow to them: how can I look to
the pains and struggles they must endure in life, when stung with
the knowledge that I am the cause of it? I shall wither under the
torture of my own conscience. And there is even an interest about
them that makes my feelings bound joyfully when I recur them. Can it
be aught but the fruit of natural affection? I think not; and yet I
am compelled to disown them, and even to smother with falsehood the
rancour that might find a place in Franconia's bosom. Clotilda loves
Annette with a mother's fondness; but with all her fondness for her
child she dare not love me, nor I the child."

Maxwell suggests that his not having bought the child would
certainly give him the right to control his own flesh and blood: but
he knows little of slave law, and less of its customs. He, however,
was anxious to draw from Marston full particulars of the secret that
would disclose Clotilda's history, over which the partial exposition
had thrown the charm of mystery. Several times he was on the eve of
proffering his services to relieve the burden working upon Marston's
mind; but his sympathies were enlisted toward the two unfortunate
women, for whom he was ready to render good service, to relieve them
and their children. Again, he remembered how singularly sensitive
Southerners were on matters concerning the peculiar institution,
especially when approached by persons from abroad. Perhaps it was a
plot laid by Marston to ascertain his feelings on the subject, or,
under that peculiar jealousy of Southerners who live in this manner,
he might have discovered his interview with Clotilda, and, in
forming a plan to thwart his project, adopted this singular course
for disarming apprehensions.

At this stage of the proceedings a whispering noise was heard, as if
coming from another part of the room. They stopped at the moment,
looked round with surprise, but not seeing anything, resumed the

"Of whom did you purchase?" inquired Maxwell, anxiously.

"One Silenus; a trader who trades in this quality of property only,
and has become rich by the traffic. He is associated with Anthony
Romescos, once a desperado on the Texan frontier. These two coveys
would sell their mossmates without a scruple, and think it no harm
so long as they turned a dime. They know every justice of the peace
from Texas to Fort M'Henry. Romescos is turned the desperado again,
shoots, kills, and otherwise commits fell deeds upon his neighbour's
negroes; he even threatens them with death when they approach him
for reparation. He snaps his fingers at law, lawyers, and judges:
slave law is moonshine to those who have no rights in common law-"

"And he escapes? Then you institute laws, and substitute custom to
make them null. It is a poor apology for a namesake. But do you
assert that in the freest and happiest country-a country that boasts
the observance of its statute laws-a man is privileged to shoot,
maim, and torture a fellow-being, and that public opinion fails to
bring him to justice?" ejaculated Maxwell.

"Yes," returns Marston, seriously; "it is no less shameful than
true. Three of my negroes has he killed very good-naturedly, and yet
I have no proof to convict him. Even were I to seek redress, it
would be against that prejudice which makes the rights of the
enslaved unpopular."

The trouble exists in making the man merchandise, reducing him to an
abject being, without the protection of common law. Presently the
tears began to flow down Marston's cheeks, as he unbuttoned his
shirt-collar with an air of restlessness, approached a desk that
stood in one corner of the room, and drew from it a somewhat defaced
bill of sale. There was something connected with that bit of paper,
which, apart from anything else, seemed to harass him most. "But a
minute before you entered I looked upon that paper," he spoke,
throwing it upon the table, "and thought how much trouble it had
brought me, how through it I had left a curse upon innocent life. I
paid fifteen hundred dollars for the souls and bodies of those two
women, creatures of sense, delicacy, and tenderness. But I am not a
bad man, after all. No, there are worse men than me in the world."

"Gather, gather, ye incubus of misfortune, bearing to me the light
of heaven, with which to see my sins. May it come to turn my heart
in the right way, to seek its retribution on the wrong!" Thus
concluding, Marston covers his face in his hands, and for several
minutes weeps like a child. Again rising from his seat, he throws
the paper on a table near an open window, and himself upon a couch
near by.

Maxwell attempts to quiet him by drawing his attention from the
subject. There is little use, however,--it is a terrible
conflict,--the conflict of conscience awakening to a sense of its
errors; the fate of regrets when it is too late to make amends.

While this was going on, a brawny hand reached into the window, and
quickly withdrew the paper from the table. Neither observed it.

And at the moment, Marston ejaculated, "I will! I will! let it cost
what it may. I will do justice to Clotilda and her child,--to Ellen
and her child; I will free them, send them into a free country to be
educated." In his excitement he forgot the bill of sale.

"Like enough you will!" responds a gruff voice; and a loud rap at
the hall-door followed. Dandy was summoned, opened the door, bowed
Romescos into the room. He pretends to be under the influence of
liquor, which he hopes will excuse his extraordinary familiarity at
such a late hour. Touching the hilt of his knife, he swaggers into
the presence of Marston, looks at him fixedly, impertinently demands
something to drink. He cares not what it be, waits for no ceremony,
tips the decanter, gulps his glass, and deliberately takes a seat.

The reader will perhaps detect the object of his presence; but,
beyond that, there is something deep and desperate in the appearance
of the man, rendering his familiarity exceedingly disagreeable. That
he should present himself at such an untimely hour was strange,
beyond Marston's comprehension. It was, indeed, most inopportune;
but knowing him, he feared him. He could not treat him with
indifference,--there was his connection with Graspum, his power over
the poor servile whites; he must be courteous-so, summoning his
suavity, he orders Dandy to wait upon him.

Romescos amuses himself with sundry rude expressions about the
etiquette of gentlemen,--their rights and associations,--the glorious
freedom of a glorious land. Not heeding Dandy's attention, he fills
another glass copiously, twirls it upon the table, eyes Marston, and
then Maxwell, playfully-drinks his beverage with the air of one
quite at home.

"Marston, old feller," he says, winking at Maxwell, "things don't
jibe so straight as they use't-do they? I wants a stave o'
conversation on matters o' business with ye to-morrow. It's a smart
little property arrangement; but I ain't in the right fix just now;
I can't make the marks straight so we can understand two and two. Ye
take, don't ye? Somethin' touching a genteel business with your fast
young nephew, Lorenzo. Caution to the wise." Romescos, making
several vain attempts, rises, laughing with a half-independent air,
puts his slouch hat on his head, staggers to the door, makes passes
at Dandy, who waits his egress, and bidding them good night,



THE cholera raging on Marston's plantation, had excited Graspum's
fears. His pecuniary interests were above every other
consideration-he knew no higher object than the accumulation of
wealth; and to ascertain the precise nature and extent of the malady
he had sent Romescos to reconnoitre.

Returning to the long-room at Graspum's slave-pen, we must introduce
the reader to scenes which take place on the night following that
upon which Romescos secured the bill of sale at Marston's mansion.

Around the table we have before described sit Graspum and some dozen
of his clan. Conspicuous among them is Dan Bengal, and Nath Nimrod,
whom we described as running into the room unceremoniously, holding
by the hair the head of a negro, and exulting over it as a prize of
much value. They are relating their adventures, speculating over the
prospects of trade, comparing notes on the result of making free
trash human property worth something! They all manifest the happiest
of feelings, have a language of their own, converse freely; at times
sprinkle their conversation with pointed oaths. They are conversant
with the business affairs of every planter in the State, know his
liabilities, the condition of his negroes, his hard cases, his bad
cases, his runaways, and his prime property. Their dilations on the
development of wenches, shades of colour, qualities of stock suited
to the various markets-from Richmond to New Orleans-disclose a
singular foresight into the article of poor human nature.

"There's nothing like pushing our kind of business, specially whin
ye gits it where ye can push profitably," speaks Bengal, his fiery
red eyes glaring over the table as he droops his head sluggishly,
and, sipping his whiskey, lets it drip over his beard upon his
bosom; "if 't warn't for Anthony's cunnin' we'd have a pesky deal of
crooked law to stumble through afore we'd get them rich uns upset."

My reader must know that southern law and justice for the poor
succumb to popular feeling in all slave atmospheres; and happy is
the fellow who can work his way through slavedom without being
dependent upon the one or brought under the influence of the other.

Graspum, in reply to Bengal, feels that gentlemen in the "nigger
business" should respect themselves. He well knows there exists not
the best feeling in the world between them and the more exclusive
aristocracy, whose feelings must inevitably be modified to suit the
democratic spirit of the age. He himself enjoys that most refined
society, which he asserts to be strong proof of the manner in which
democracy is working its way to distinction. Our business, he says,
hath so many avenues that it has become positively necessary that
some of them should be guarded by men of honour, dignity, and
irreproachable conduct. Now, he has sent Anthony Romescos to do some
watching on the sly, at Marston's plantation; but there is nothing
dishonourable in that, inasmuch as the victim is safe in his claws.
Contented with these considerations, Graspum puffs his cigar very
composedly. From slave nature, slave-seeking adventures, and the
intricacies of the human-property-market, they turn to the
discussion of state rights, of freedom in its broadest and most
practical sense. And, upon the principle of the greatest despot
being foremost to discuss what really constitutes freedom, which,
however, he always argues in an abstract sense, Nimrod was loudest
and most lavish in his praises of a protective government--a
government that would grant great good justice to the white man
only. It matters little to Nimrod which is the greater nigger; he
believes in the straight principles of right in the white man. It is
not so much how justice is carried out when menial beings form a
glorious merchandise; but it is the true essence of liberty, giving
men power to keep society all straight, to practice liberty very
liberally. "Ye see, now, Graspum," he quaintly remarks, as he takes
up the candle to light his cigar, "whatever ye do is right, so long
as the law gives a feller a right to do it. 'Tisn't a bit o' use to
think how a man can be too nice in his feelings when a hundred or
two's to be made on nigger property what's delicate, t'aint! A
feller feels sore once in a while, a' cos his conscience is a little
touchy now and then; but it won't do to give way to it-conscience
don't bring cash. When ye launches out in the nigger-trading
business ye must feel vengeance agin the brutes, and think how it's
only trade; how it's perfectly legal-and how it's encouraged by the
Governor's proclamations. Human natur's human natur'; and when ye
can turn a penny at it, sink all the in'ard inclinations. Just let
the shiners slide in, it don't matter a tenpence where ye got 'em.
Trade's everything! you might as well talk about patriotism among
crowned heads,--about the chivalry of commerce: cash makes
consequence, and them's what makes gentlemen, south."

They welcome the spirits, although it has already made them
soulless. The negro listens to a dialogue of singular import to
himself; his eyes glistened with interest, as one by one they
sported over the ignorance enforced upon the weak. One by one they
threw their slouch hats upon the floor, drew closer in conclave,
forming a grotesque picture of fiendish faces. "Now, gentlemen,"
Graspum deigns to say, after a moment's pause, motioning to the
decanter, "pass it along round when ye gets a turn about." He fills
his glass and drinks, as if drink were a necessary accompaniment of
the project before them. "This case of Marston's is a regular
plumper; there's a spec to be made in that stock of stuff; and them
bright bits of his own-they look like him-'ll make right smart
fancy. Ther' developing just in the right sort of way to be valuable
for market."

"There's movin' o' the shrewdest kind to be done there, Graspum!
Where's the dockerment what 'll make 'um property, eh?" interrupted

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