Part 6 out of 12
WE CHANGE WITH FORTUNE.
BUT a few months have passed since the popularly called gallant
M'Carstrow led the fair Franconia to the hymeneal altar; and, now
that he has taken up his residence in the city, the excitement of
the honeymoon is waning, and he has betaken himself to his more
congenial associations. The beautiful Franconia for him had but
transient charms, which he now views as he would objects necessary
to the gratifications of his coarse passions. His feelings have not
been softened with those finer associations which make man the kind
patron of domestic life; nor is his mind capable of appreciating
that respect for a wife which makes her an ornament of her circle.
Saloons, race-courses, and nameless places, have superior
attractions for him: home is become but endurable.
In truth, Franconia, compelled to marry in deference to fortune,
finds she is ensnared into misfortunes. M'Carstrow (Colonel by
courtesy) had fifteen hundred dollars, cash down, to pay for
Clotilda: this sad grievance excites his feelings, inasmuch as it
was all owing to his wife's whims, and the poverty of her relations.
The verdict of the jury, recently rendered, was to his mind a
strictly correct one; but he cannot forget the insane manner in
which the responsibility was fastened upon him, and the hard
cash-which might have made two handsome stakes on the turf-drawn
from his pocket. His wife's poverty-stricken relations he now
detests, and can tolerate them best when farthest away from him. But
Franconia does not forget that he is her husband; no, night after
night she sits at the window until midnight, waiting his return.
Feeble and weary with anxiety, she will despatch a negro on a
hopeless errand of search; he, true to his charge, returns with the
confidential intelligence of finding Mas'r in a place less reputable
than it is proper to mention. Such is our southern society,--very
hospitable in language, chivalrous in memory,--base in morals! Some-
times the gallant colonel deems it necessary to remain until
daylight, lest, in returning by night, the pavement may annoy his
understanding. Of this, however, he felt the world knew but little.
Now and then, merely to keep up the luxury of southern life, the
colonel finds it gratifying to his feelings, on returning home at
night, to order a bed to be made for him in one of the yard-houses,
in such manner as to give the deepest pain to his Franconia. Coarse
and dissolute, indifference follows, cold and cutting; she finds
herself a mere instrument of baser purpose in the hands of one she
knows only as a ruffian-she loathes! Thus driven under the burden of
trouble, she begins to express her unhappiness, to remonstrate
against his associations, to plead with him against his course of
life. He jeers at this, scouts such prudery, proclaims it far
beneath the dignity of his standing as a southern gentleman.
The generous woman could have endured his dissipation-she might have
tolerated his licentiousness, but his arbitrary and very
uncalled-for remarks upon the misfortunes of her family are more
than she can bear. She has tried to respect him-love him she
cannot-and yet her sensitive nature recoils at the thought of being
attached to one whose feelings and associations are so at variance
with her own. Her impulsive spirit quails under the bitterness of
her lot; she sees the dreary waste of trouble before her only to
envy the happiness of those days of rural life spent on the old
plantation. That she should become fretful and unhappy is a natural
We must invite the reader to go with us to M'Carstrow's residence,
an old-fashioned wooden building, three stories high, with large
basement windows and doors, on the south side of King Street. It is
a wet, gloomy night, in the month of November,--the wind, fierce and
chilling, has just set in from the north-east; a drenching rain
begins to fall, the ships in the harbour ride ill at ease; the
sudden gusts of wind, sweeping through the narrow streets of the
city, lighted here and there by the sickly light of an old-fashioned
lamp, bespread the scene with drear. At a second-story window,
lighted by a taper burning on the sill, sits Franconia, alone,
waiting the return of M'Carstrow. M'Carstrow is enjoying his night
orgies! He cares neither for the pelting storm, the anxiety of his
wife, nor the sweets of home.
A gust of wind shakes the house; the windows rattle their stormy
music; the cricket answers to the wailings of the gale as it gushes
through the crevices; Franconia's cares are borne to her husband.
Now the wind subsides,--a slow rap is heard at the hall door, in the
basement: a female servant, expecting her master, hastens to open
it. Her master is not there; the wind has extinguished the flaring
light; and the storm, sweeping through the sombre arch, spreads
noise and confusion. She runs to the kitchen, seizes the globular
lamp, and soon returns, frightened at the sight presented in the
door. Master is not there-it is the lean figure of a strange old
"nigger," whose weather-worn face, snowy with beard and wrinkled
with age, is lit up with gladness. He has a warm soul within him,--a
soul not unacceptable to heaven! The servant shrinks back,--she is
frightened at the strange sight of the strange old man. "Don' be
feared, good child; Bob ain't bad nigger," says the figure, in a
"An't da'h fo'h notin good; who is ye'?" returns the girl, holding
the globular lamp before her shining black face. Cautiously she
makes a step or two forward, squinting at the sombre figure of the
old negro, as he stands trembling in the doorway. "Is my good young
Miss wid'n?" he enquires, in the same whispering voice, holding his
cap in his right hand.
"Reckon how ye bes be gwine out a dat afo'h Miss come. Yer miss don'
lib in dis ouse." So saying, the girl is about to close the door in
the old man's face, for he is ragged and dejected, and has the
appearance of a "suspicious nigger without a master."
"Don' talk so, good gal; ye don' know dis old man,--so hungry,--most
starved. I lub Miss Franconia. Tell she I'ze here," he says, in a
supplicating tone, as the girl, regaining confidence, scrutinises
him from head to foot with the aid of her lamp.
The servant is about to request he will come inside that she may
shut out the storm. "Frankone knows old Daddy Bob,--dat she do!" he
reiterates, working his cap in his fingers. The familiar words have
caught Franconia's ear; she recognises the sound of the old man's
voice; she springs to her feet, as her heart gladdens with joy. She
bounds down the stairs, and to the door, grasps the old man's hand,
as a fond child warmly grasps the hand of a parent, and welcomes him
with the tenderness of a sister. "Poor-my poor old Daddy!" she says,
looking in his face so sweetly, so earnestly, "where have you come
from? who bought you? how did you escape?" she asks, in rapid
succession. Holding his hand, she leads him along the passage, as he
tells her. "Ah, missus, I sees hard times since old mas'r lef' de
plantation. Him an't how he was ven you dah." He views her,
curiously, from head to foot; kisses her hand; laughs with joy, as
he was wont to laugh on the old plantation.
"Faithful as ever, Daddy? You found me out, and came to see me,
didn't you?" says Franconia, so kindly, leading him into a small
room on the left hand of the hall, where, after ordering some supper
for him, she begs he will tell her all about his wayfaring. It is
some minutes before Bob can get an opportunity to tell Franconia
that he is a fugitive, having escaped the iron grasp of the law to
stand true to old mas'r. At length he, in the enthusiastic boundings
of his heart, commences his story.
"Nigger true, Miss Franconia"-he mumbles out-"on'e gib 'im chance to
be. Ye sees, Bob warn't gwine t' lef' old mas'r, nohow; so I gin
'ein da slip when'e come t' takes 'em fo'h sell-"
"Then they didn't sell you, old Dad? That's good! that's good! And
Daddy's cold and wet?" she interrupts, anxiously, telling the
servant to get some dry clothes for him.
"I is dat, Miss Frankone. Han't ad nofin t' eat dis most two days,"
he returns, looking at her affectionately, with one of those simple
smiles, so true, so expressive.
A supper is soon ready for Daddy, to which he sits down as if he
were about to renew all his former fondness and familiarity. "Seems
like old times, don 'un, Miss Frankone? Wish old mas'r war here,
too," says the old man, putting the bowl of coffee to his lips, and
casting a side-look at the servant.
Franconia sits watching him intently, as if he were a child just
rescued from some impending danger. "Don't mention my poor uncle,
Daddy. He feels as much interest in you as I do; but the world don't
look upon him now as it once did-"
"Neber mind: I gwine to work fo' old mas'r. It'll take dis old child
to see old mas'r all right," replies the old man, forgetting that he
is too old to take care of himself, properly. Bob finishes his
supper, rests his elbow on the table and his head in his hand, and
commences disclosing his troubles to Franconia. He tells her how he
secreted himself in the pine-woods,--how he wandered through swamps,
waded creeks, slept on trunks of trees, crept stealthily to the old
mansion at night, listened for mas'r's footsteps, and watched
beneath the veranda; and when he found he was not there, how he
turned and left the spot, his poor heart regretting. How his heart
beat as he passed the old familiar cabin, retracing his steps to
seek a shelter in the swamp; how, when he learned her residence,
famished with hunger, he wended his way into the city to seek her
out, knowing she would relieve his wants.
"What vil da do wid me, spose da cotch me, Miss Frankone?" enquires
the old man, simply, looking down at his encrusted feet, and again
at his nether wardrobe, which he feels is not just the thing to
appear in before young missus.
"They won't do anything cruel to you, Daddy. You are too old; your
grey hairs will protect you. Why, Daddy, you would not fetch a bid
if they found out who owned you, and put you up at auction
to-morrow," she says, with seeming unconsciousness. She little knew
how much the old man prided in his value,--how much he esteemed the
amount of good work he could do for master. He shakes his head,
looks doubtingly at her, as if questioning the sincerity of her
"Just get Daddy Bob-he mutters-a badge, den 'e show missus how much
work in 'um."
Franconia promises to comply with his request, and, with the aid of
a friend, will intercede for him, and procure for him a badge, that
he may display his energies for the benefit of old mas'r. This done,
she orders the servant to show him his bed in one of the "yard
houses;" bids the old man an affectionate good night, retires to her
room, and watches the return of her truant swain.
There, seated in an arm-chair, she waits, and waits, and waits, hope
and anxiety recording time as it passes. The servant has seen Daddy
safe in his room, and joins her missus, where, by the force of
habit, she coils herself at her feet, and sleeps. She has not long
remained in this position when loud singing breaks upon her ear;
louder and louder it vibrates through the music of the storm, and
approaches. Now she distinctly recognises the sharp voice of
M'Carstrow, which is followed by loud rappings at the door of the
basement hall. M'Carstrow, impatiently, demands entrance. The
half-sleeping servant, startled at the noise, springs to her feet,
rubs her eyes, bounds down the stairs, seizes the globular lamp, and
proceeds to open the door. Franconia, a candle in her hand, waits at
the top of the stairs. She swings back the door, and there,
bespattered with mud, face bleeding and distorted, and eyes glassy,
stands the chivalrous M'Carstrow. He presents a sorry picture;
mutters, or half growls, some sharp imprecations; makes a grasp at
the girl, falls prostrate on the floor. Attempting to gain his
perpendicular, he staggers a few yards-the girl screaming with
fright-and groans as his face again confronts the tiles. To make the
matter still worse, three of his boon companions follow him, and,
almost in succession, pay their penance to the floor, in an
"I tell you what, Colonel! if that nigger gal a' yourn don't stand
close with her blazer we'll get into an all-fired snarl," says one,
endeavouring to extricate himself and regain his upright. After
sundry ineffectual attempts, surging round the room in search of his
hat, which is being very unceremoniously transformed into a muff
beneath their entangled extremes, he turns over quietly, saying,
"There's something very strange about the floor of this
establishment,--it don't seem solid; 'pears how there's ups and downs
in it." They wriggle and twist in a curious pile; endeavour to bring
their knees out of "a fix"--to free themselves from the angles which
they are most unmathematically working on the floor. Working and
twisting,--now staggering, and again giving utterance to the coarsest
language,--one of the gentry--they belong to the sporting world-calls
loudly for the colonel's little 'oman. Regaining his feet, he makes
indelicate advances towards the female servant, who, nearly pale
with fright--a negro can look pale--runs to her mistress at the top
of the stairs.
He misses the frightened maid, and seats himself on the lowest step
of the stairs. Here he delivers a sort of half-musical soliloquy,
like the following: "Gentlemen! this kind a' thing only happens at
times, and isn't just the square thing when yer straight; but--seein'
how southern life will be so--when a body get's crooked what's got a
wife what don't look to matters and things, and never comes to take
care on a body when he's done gone, he better shut up shop. Better
be lookin' round to see what he can scare up!"
Franconia holds the flaring light over the stairs: pale and
death-like, she trembles with fear, every moment expecting to see
"I see the colonel's 'oman! yander she is; she what was imposed on
him to save the poverty of her folks. The M'Carstrows know a thing
or two: her folks may crawl under the dignity of the name, but they
don't shell under the dignity of the money-they don't!" says a
stalwart companion, attempting to gain a position by the side of his
fellow on the steps. He gives a leering wink, contorts his face into
a dozen grimaces, stares vacantly round the hall (sliding himself
along on his hands and knees), his glassy eyes inflamed like balls
of fire. "It'll be all square soon," he growls out.
The poor affrighted servant again attempts-having descended the
stairs-to relieve her master; but the crawling creature has regained
his feet. He springs upon her like a fiend, utters a fierce yell,
and, snatching the lamp from her hand, dashes it upon the tiles,
spreading the fractured pieces about the hall. Wringing herself from
his grasp, she leaves a portion of her dress in his bony hand, and
seeks shelter in a distant part of the hall. Holding up the fragment
as a trophy, he staggers from place to place, making hieroglyphics
on the wall with his fingers. His misty mind searches for some point
of egress. Confronting (rather uncomfortably) hat stands, tables,
porcelains, and other hall appurtenances, he at length shuffles his
way back to the stairs, where, as if doubting his bleered optics, he
stands some moments, swaying to and fro. His hat again falls from
his head, and his body, following, lays its lumbering length on the
stairs. Happy fraternity! how useful is that body! His companion,
laying his muddled head upon it, says it will serve for a pillow.
"E'ke-hum-spose 'tis so? I reckon how I'm some-ec! eke!-somewhere or
nowhere; aint we, Joe? It's a funny house, fellers," he continues to
soliloquise, laying his arm affectionately over his companion's
neck, and again yielding to the caprice of his nether limbs.
The gentlemen will now enjoy a little refreshing sleep; to further
which enjoyment, they very coolly and unceremoniously commence a
pot-pourri of discordant snoring. This seems of grateful concord for
their boon companions, who-forming an equanimity of good feeling on
the floor-join in.
The servant is but a slave, subject to her owner's will; she dare
not approach him while in such an uncertain condition. Franconia
cannot intercede, lest his companions, strangers to her, and having
the appearance of low-bred men, taking advantage of M'Carstrow's
besotted condition, make rude advances. M'Carstrow, snoring high
above his cares, will take his comfort upon the tiles.
The servant is supplied with another candle, which, at Franconia's
bidding, she places in a niche of the hall. It will supply light to
the grotesque sleepers, whose lamp has gone out.
Franconia has not forgotten that M'Carstrow is her husband; she has
not forgotten that she owes him a wife's debt of kindness. She
descends the stairs gently, leans over his besotted body, smooths
his feverish brow with her hand, and orders the servant to bring a
soft cushion; which done, she raises his head and places it
beneath-so gently, so carefully. Her loving heart seems swelling
with grief, as compassionately she gazes upon him; then, drawing a
cambric handkerchief from her bosom, spreads it so kindly over his
face. Woman! there is worth in that last little act. She leaves him
to enjoy his follies, but regrets their existence. Retiring to the
drawing-room, agitated and sleepless, she reclines on a lounge to
await the light of morning. Again the faithful servant, endeavouring
to appease her mistress's agitation, crouches upon the carpet,
resting her head on the ottoman at Franconia's feet.
The morning dawns bright and sunny: Franconia has not slept. She has
passed the hours in watchfulness; has watched the negro sleeping,
while her thoughts were rivetted to the scene in the hall. She gets
up, paces the room from the couch to the window, and sits down again
undecided, unresolved. Taking Diana-such is the servant's name-by
the hand, she wakes her, and sends her into the hall to ascertain
the condition of the sleepers. The metamorphosed group, poisoning
the air with their reeking breath, are still enjoying the morbid
fruits of their bacchanalianism. Quietly, coolly, and promiscuously,
they lay as lovingly as fellows of the animal world could desire.
The servant returns, shaking her head. "Missus, da'h lays yander, so
in all fixins dat no tellin' which most done gone. Mas'r seems done
gone, sartin!" says the servant, her face glowing with apprehension.
The significant phrase alarms Franconia. She repairs to the hall,
and commences restoring the sleepers to consciousness. The gentlemen
are doggedly obstinate; they refuse to be disturbed. She recognises
the face of one whose business it is to reduce men to the last stage
of poverty. Her sensitive nature shudders at the sight, as she views
him with a curl of contempt on her lip. "Oh,
M'Carstrow,--M'Carstrow!" she whispers, and taking him by the hand,
shakes it violently. M'Carstrow, with countenance ghastly and
inflamed, begins to raise his sluggish head. He sees Franconia
pensively gazing in his face; and yet he enquires who it is that
disturbs the progress of his comforts. "Only me!" says the good
woman, soliciting him to leave his companions and accompany her.
Oh, you, is it?" he replies, grumblingly, rising on his right elbow,
and rubbing his eyes with his left hand. Wildly and vacantly he
stares round the hall, as if aroused from a trance, and made
sensible of his condition.
"Yes, me-simply me, who, lost to your affections, is made most
unhappy-" Franconia would proceed, but is interrupted by her
"Unhappy! unhappy!" says the man of southern chivalry, making sundry
irresistible nods. "Propagator of mischief, of evil contentions, of
peace annihilators. Ah! ah! ah! Thinking about the lustre of them
beggared relations. It always takes fools to make a fuss over small
things: an angel wouldn't make a discontented woman happy."
Franconia breaks out into a paroxysm of grief, so unfeeling is the
tone in which he addresses her. He is a southern gentleman,--happily
not of New England in his manners, not of New England in his
affections, not of New England in his domestic associations. He
thinks Franconia very silly, and scouts with derision the idea of
marrying a southern gentleman who likes enjoyment, and then making a
fuss about it. He thinks she had better shut up her
whimpering,--learn to be a good wife upon southern principles.
"Husbands should be husbands, to claim a wife's respect; and they
should never forget that kindness makes good wives. Take away the
life springs of woman's love, and what is she? What is she with her
happiness gone, her pride touched, her prospects blasted? What
respect or love can she have for the man who degrades her to the
level of his own loathsome companions?" Franconia points to those
who lie upon the floor, repulsive, and reeking with the fumes of
dissipation. "There are your companions," she says.
"Companions?" he returns, enquiringly. He looks round upon them with
surprise. "Who are those fellows you have got here?" he enquires,
"You brought them to your own home; that home you might make happy-"
"Not a bit of it! They are some of your d-d disreputable relations."
"My relations never violate the conduct of gentlemen." "No; but they
sponge on me. These my companions!" looking at them inquisitively.
"Oh, no! Don't let us talk about such things; I'ze got fifteen
hundred dollars and costs to pay for that nigger gal you were fool
enough to get into a fit about when we were married. That's what
I'ze got for my good-heartedness." M'Carstrow permits his very
gentlemanly southern self to get into a rage. He springs to his feet
suddenly, crosses and recrosses the hall like one frenzied with
excitement. Franconia is frightened, runs up the stairs, and into
her chamber, where, secreting herself, she fastens the door. He
looks wistfully after her, stamping his foot, but he will not
follow. Too much of a polished gentleman, he will merely amuse
himself by running over the gamut of his strongest imprecations. The
noise creates general alarm among his companions, who, gaining their
uprights, commence remonstrating with him on his rude conduct, as if
they were much superior beings.
"Now, colonel, major,--or whatever they dubbed ye, in the way of a
title," says one, putting his hand to his hat with a swaggering bow;
"just stop that ar' sort a' nonsense, and pay over this 'ere little
affair afore we gets into polite etiquette and such things. When, to
make the expenses, ye comes into a place like ours, and runs up a
credit score,--when ye gets so lofty that ye can't tell fifty from
five, we puts a sealer on, so customers don't forget in the
morning." The modest gentleman presents to M'Carstrow's astonished
eyes a note for twenty-seven hundred dollars, with the genuine
signature. M'Carstrow takes it in his hand, stares at it, turns it
over and over. The signature is his; but he is undecided about the
manner of its getting there, and begins to give expression to some
The gentleman watches M'Carstrow very cautiously. "Straight!
colonel-he says-just turn out the shiners, or, to 'commodate, we'll
let ye off with a sprinkling of niggers."
The colonel puts the fore-finger of his left hand to his lips, and,
with serious countenance, walks twice or thrice across the hall, as
if consulting his dignity: "Shell out the niggers first; we'll take
the dignity part a'ter," he concludes.
"I demand to know how you came in my house," interrupts the colonel,
impatiently. He finds himself in very bad company; company southern
gentlemen never acknowledge by daylight.
"We brought you here! Anything else you'd like to know?" is the
cool, sneering response. The gentleman will take a pinch of snuff;
he draws his fancy box from his pocket, gives the cover a polite rap
with his finger, invites the enraged M'Carstrow to "take." That
gentleman shakes his head,--declines. He is turning the whole affair
over in his head, seems taking it into serious consideration.
Seriously, he accepted their accommodation, and now finds himself
compelled to endure their painful presence.
"I, I, I-m, rather in doubt," stammers M'Carstrow, fingering the
little obligation again, turning it over and over, rubbing his eyes,
applying his glass. He sees nothing in the signature to dispute. "I
must stop this kind of fishing," he says; "don't do. It 's just what
friend Scranton would call very bad philosophy. Gentlemen, suppose
you sit down; we'd better consider this matter a little. Han't got a
dime in the bank, just now." M'Carstrow is becoming more quiet,
takes a philosophical view of the matter, affects more suavity.
Calling loudly for the negro servant, that personage presents
herself, and is ordered to bring chairs to provide accommodation for
the gentlemen, in the hall.
"Might just as well settle the matter in the parlour, colonel;
t'wont put you out a mite," the gambler suggests, with a laconic
air. He will not trouble M'Carstrow by waiting for his reply. No; he
leads the way, very coolly, asking no odds of etiquette; and, having
entered the apartment, invites his comrades to take seats. The
dignity and coolness with which the manouvre is executed takes
"Boss" M'Carstrow by surprise; makes him feel that he is merely a
dependent individual, whose presence there is not much need of. "I
tell you what it is, gents, I'ze shaved my accounts at the bank down
to the smallest figure, have! but there's an honourable
consideration about this matter; and, honour's honour, and I want to
discharge it somehow--niggers or cash!" The gentlemen's feelings
have smoothed down amazingly. M'Carstrow is entirely serious, and
willing to comply.
The gentlemen have seated themselves in a triangle, with the "done
over" colonel in the centre.
"Well, niggers will do just as well, provided they are sound, prime,
and put at prices so a feller can turn 'em into tin, quick," says
the gentleman, who elects himself spokesman of the party.
"Keeps my property in tall condition, but won't shove it off under
market quotations, no how!" M'Carstrow interrupts, as the spokesman,
affecting the nonchalance of a newly-elected alderman, places his
feet upon the rich upholstery of a sofa close by. He would enjoy the
extremes of southern comfort. "Colonel, I wish you had a more
convenient place to spit," rejoins the gentleman. He will not
trouble the maid, however-he let's fly the noxious mixture,
promiscuously; it falls from his lips upon the soft hearth-rug. "It
will add another flower to the expensive thing," he says, very
coolly, elongating his figure a little more. He has relieved
himself, wondrously. M'Carstrow calls the servant, points to the
additional wreath on the hearth-rug!
"All your nigger property as good-conditioned as that gal?" enquires
the gentleman, the others laughing at the nicety of his humour.
Rising from his seat very deliberately, he approaches the servant,
lays his hand upon her neck and shoulders.
"Not quite so fast, my friend: d-n it, gentlemen, don't be rude.
That's coming the thing a little too familiar. There is a medium:
please direct your moist appropriations and your improper remarks in
their proper places." The girl, cringing beneath the ruffian's hand,
places the necessary receptacle at his feet.
The gentleman is offended,--very much offended. He thinks it beneath
the expansion of his mind-to be standing on aristocratic nonsense!
"Spit boxes and nigger property ain't the thing to stand on about
haristocrats; just put down the dimes. Three bright niggers 'll do:
turn 'em out."
"Three of my best niggers!" ejaculates the Colonel.
"Nothin' shorter, Colonel."
"Remember, gentlemen, the market price of such property. The demand
for cotton has made niggers worth their weight in gold, for any
purpose. Take the prosperity of our country into consideration,
gentlemen; remember the worth of prime men. The tip men of the
market are worth 1200 dollars."
"Might as well lay that kind a' financerin aside, Colonel. What's
the use of living in a free country, where every man has a right to
make a penny when he can, and talk so? Now, 'pears to me t'aint no
use a' mincing the matter; we might a' leaked ye in for as many
thousands as hundreds. Seein' how ye was a good customer, we saved
ye on a small shot. Better put the niggers out: ownin' such a lot,
ye won't feel it! Give us three prime chaps; none a' yer old
sawbones what ye puts up at auction when ther' worked down to
M'Carstrow's powers of reasoning are quite limited; and, finding
himself in one of those strange situations southern gentlemen so
often get into, and which not unfrequently prove as perplexing as
the workings of the peculiar institution itself, he seeks relief by
giving an order for three prime fellows. They will be delivered up,
at the plantation, on the following day, when the merchandise will
be duly made over, as per invoice. Everything is according to style
and honour; the gentlemen pledge their faith to be gentlemen, to
leave no dishonourable loop-hole for creeping out. And now, having
settled the little matter, they make M'Carstrow the very best of
bows, desire to be remembered to his woman, bid him good morning,
and leave. They will claim their property-three prime men-by the
justice of a "free-born democracy."
M'Carstrow watches them from the house, moralising over his folly.
They have gone! He turns from the sight, ascends the stairs, and
repairs to meet his Franconia.
THE VICISSITUDES OF A PREACHER.
WE left Harry, the faithful servant, whose ministerial functions had
been employed in elevating the souls of Marston's property, being
separated from his wife and sold to Mr. M'Fadden. M'Fadden is a
gentleman--we do not impugn the name, in a southern sense--of that
class--very large class--who, finding the laws of their own country
too oppressive for their liberal thoughts, seek a republican's home
in ours. It is to such men, unhappily, the vices of slavery are
open. They grasp them, apply them to purposes most mercenary, most
vile. The most hardened of foreigners-that essence of degraded
outcasts,--may, under the privileges of slavery, turn human misery
into the means of making money. He has no true affiliations with the
people of the south, nor can he feel aught beyond a selfish interest
in the prosperity of the State; but he can be active in the work of
evil. With the foreigner--we speak from observation--affecting love
of liberty at home, it would seem, only makes him the greater tyrant
when slavery gives him power to execute its inhuman trusts. Mr.
Lawrence M'Fadden is one of this description of persons; he will
make a fortune in the South, and live a gentleman in the North--
perhaps, at home on his own native Isle. Education he has none;
moral principle he never enjoyed,--never expects to. He is a tall,
athletic man, nearly six feet two inches in height, with extremely
broad, stooping shoulders, and always walks as if he were meditating
some speculation. His dress is usually of southern red-mixed
homespun,--a dress which he takes much pride in wearing, in
connection with a black brigand hat, which gives his broad face,
projecting cheek-bones, and blunt chin, a look of unmistakeable
sullenness. Add to this a low, narrow forehead, generally covered
with thick tufts of matted black hair, beneath which two savage eyes
incessantly glare, and, reader, you have the repulsive
personification of the man. Mr. M'Fadden has bought a preacher,--an
article with the very best kind of a soul,--which he would send to
his place in the country. Having just sent the article to the
rail-road, he stands in a neighbouring bar-room, surrounded by his
cronies, who are joining him in a social glass, discussing the
qualities of the article preacher. We are not favoured with the
point at issue; but we hear Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden say, with great
force,--"Preachers are only good property under certain
circumstances; and if them circumstances ain't just so, it won't do
to buy 'em. Old aristocrat rice planters may make a good thing or
two on 'em, because they can make 'em regulate the cummin' o' their
property, and make it understand what the Lord says about minding
their masters." For his-Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden's-own part, he
wouldn't give seven coppers for the thinking part of any property,
having no belief in that fashionable way of improving its value. "My
preacher has been nicely packed up and sent off in advance," he
says, wiping his mouth with his coat sleeve, and smacking his lips,
as he twirls his glass upon the zinc counter, shakes hands with his
friends-they congratulate him upon the good bargain in his
divine-and proceeds to the railroad dep“t. Harry has arrived nearly
two hours in advance,--delivered in good condition, as stated in a
receipt which he holds in his hand, and which purports to be from
the baggage-master. "Ah! here you are," says M'Fadden, taking the
paper from Harry's hand, as he enters the luggage-room. "Take good
care on ye,--I reckon I will!" He looks down upon him with an air of
satisfaction. The poor preacher-the soul-glowing property-is yet
chained, hand and foot. He sits upon the cold floor, those imploring
eyes swelling at the thought that freedom only awaits him in another
world. M'Fadden takes a little flask from his breast pocket, and,
with a motion of kindness, draws the cork, passes it to him. "It's
whiskey!" he says; "take a drop-do ye good, old feller." Quietly the
man passes it to his lips, and moistens his mouth. "No winking and
blinking-it's tip-top stuff," enjoins M'Fadden; "don't get it every
Mr. M'Fadden will take a little himself. "Glad to find ye here, all
straight!" he mutters, taking the flask from his mouth. He had
returned the receipt to his property; and, having gratified his
appetite a little, he begins to take a more perspective view of his
"Yes, master; I am here!" He again holds up his chained hands, drops
his face upon his knees; as much as to say, be sure I am all safe
Looking at the receipt again, and then at his preacher, "Guess
'hain't made a bad rap on ye' to-day!" he ejaculates, taking out his
pocket-book and laying away the precious paper as carefully as if it
were a hundred dollar note. "Should like to have bought your old
woman and young 'uns, but hadn't tin enough. And the way stock's up
now, ain't slow! Look up here, my old buck! just put on a face as
bright and smooth as a full moon-no sulkin'. Come along here."
The manacled preacher turns upon his hands, gets up as best he
can-M'Fadden kindly assists by taking hold of his shoulder-and
follows his purchaser to the platform,--like a submissive animal
goaded to the very flesh, but chained, lest it make some show of
resentment. "Good heap o' work in ye', old chuck; had a master what
didn't understand bringing on't out, though!" mutters M'Fadden, as
he introduces Harry to the negro car, at the same time casting a
look of satisfaction at the brakeman standing at his left hand ready
to receive the freight.
In the car-a dungeon-like box about ten feet square, the only
aperture for admitting light being a lattice of about eight inches
square, in the door-are three rough negro men and one woman, the
latter apparently about twenty years of age.
"Got a tall chap here, boys! Make ye stand round some, in pickin'
time; and can preach, too." M'Fadden shakes his head exultingly!
"Can put in the big licks preachin'; and I'ze goin' t' let 'im, once
in a while. Goin' t' have good times on my place, boys--ha'h! Got a
jug of whiskey to have a fandango when ye gits home. Got it
somewhere, I knows." Mr. M'Fadden exults over the happy times his
boys have at home. He shakes himself all over, like a polar bear
just out of the water, and laughs heartily. He has delivered himself
of something that makes everybody else laugh; the mania has caught
upon his own subtle self. The negroes laugh in expressive
cadences, and shrug their shoulders as Mr. M'Fadden continues to
address them so sportively, so familiarly. Less initiated persons
might have formed very satisfactory opinions of his character. He
takes a peep under one of the seats, and with a rhapsody of laughter
draws forth a small jug. "You can't come the smuggle over me, boys!
I knew ye had a shot somewhere," he exclaims. At his bidding, the
woman hands him a gourd, from which he very deliberately helps
himself to a stout draught.
"Sit down here!-Isaac, Abraham, Daniel, or whatever yer name is-Mr.
M'Fadden addresses himself to his preacher. Ye'll get yer share on't
when ye gits to my place." He sets the jug down, and passes the
gourd back, saying: "What a saucy hussy ye are!" slapping the
woman's black shoulder playfully. "Give him some-won't ye', boys?"
Mr. M'Fadden (the cars are not yet ready to start, but the dep“t is
thronging with travellers, and the engine is puffing and snorting,
as the driver holds his hand on the throttle, and the stoker crams
with pitch pine knots the iron steed of fiery swiftness) will step
out and take the comfort of his cigar. He pats his preacher on the
shoulder, takes off his shackles, rubs his head with his hand, tells
the boys to keep an eye on him. "Yes, mas'r," they answer, in tones
of happy ignorance. The preacher must be jolly, keep on a bright
face, never mind the old gal and her young 'uns, and remember what a
chance he will have to get another. He can have two or more, if he
pleases; so says his very generous owner.
Mr. M'Fadden shakes hands with his friends on the platform, smokes
his cigar leisurely, mingles with the crowd importantly, thinking
the while what an unalloyed paragon of amiability he is. Presently
the time-bell strikes its warning; the crowd of passengers rush for
the cars; the whistle shrieks; the exhaust gives forth its gruff
snorts, the connections clank, a jerk is felt, and onward
bounds-mighty in power, but controlled by a finger's slightest
touch-the iron steed, dragging its curious train of living
M'Fadden again finds his way to the negroes' car, where, sitting
down in front of his property, he will take a bird's-eye view of it.
It is very fascinating to a man who loves the quality of such
articles as preachers. He will draw his seat somewhat closer to the
minister; his heart bounds with joy at the prime appearance of his
purchase. Reaching out his hand, he takes the cap from Harry's head,
throws it into the woman's lap; again rubs his hair into a friz.
Thus relieved of his pleasing emotions, he will pass into one of the
fashionable cars, and take his place among the aristocrats.
"Boss mighty funny when 'e come t' town, and git just so 'e don't
see straight: wish 'e so good wen 'e out da'h on de plantation
yander," ejaculates one of the negroes, who answers to the name-Joe!
Joe seems to have charge of the rest; but he watches M'Fadden's
departure with a look of sullen hatred.
"Hard old Boss on time-an't he, boys?" enquires Harry, as an
introduction to the conversation.
"Won't take ye long t' find 'um out, I reckon! Git nigger on de
plantation 'e don't spa' him, nohow," rejoins another.
"Lor', man, if ye ain't tough ye'll git used up in no time, wid
him!" the woman speaks up, sharply. Then, pulling her ragged skirts
around her, she casts a sympathising look at Harry, and, raising her
hand in a threatening attitude, and shaking it spitefully in the
direction M'Fadden has gone, says:--"If only had dat man, old Boss,
where 'um could revenge 'um, how a' would make 'um suffer! He don'
treat 'e nigger like 'e do 'e dog. If 'twarn't fo'h Buckra I'd cut
'e troat, sartin." This ominous expression, delivered with such
emphasis, satisfies Harry that he has got into the hands of a master
very unlike the kind and careless Marston.
Onward the cars speed, with clanking music making din as they go.
One of the negroes will add something to change the monotony.
Fumbling beneath the seats for some minutes, he draws forth a little
bag, carefully unties it, and presents his favourite violin. Its
appearance gladdens the hearts of his comrades, who welcome it with
smiling faces and loud applause. The instrument is of the most
antique and original description. It has only two strings; but Simon
thinks wonders of it, and would not swap it for a world of modern
fiddles, what don't touch the heart with their music. He can bring
out tremendous wailings with these two strings; such as will set the
whole plantation dancing. He puts it through the process of tuning,
adding all the scientific motions and twists of an Italian
first-fiddling artiste. Simon will moisten its ears by spitting on
them, which he does, turning and twisting himself into the attitudes
of a pompous maestro. But now he has got it in what he considers the
very nick of tune; it makes his face glow with satisfaction.
"Jest-lef'-'um cum, Simon;--big and strong!" says Joe, beginning to
keep time by slapping his hands on his knees. And such a sawing,
such a scraping, as he inflicts, never machine of its kind, ancient
or modern, got before. Simon and his companions are in ecstasies;
but such cross-grained, such painful jingling of sounds! Its charm
is irresistible with the negro; he mustn't lose a note of the tune;
every creak is exhausted in a break-down dance, which the motion of
the "Jim Crow" car makes more grotesque by every now and then
jolting them into a huddle in one corner.
Mr. M'Fadden has been told that his property are having a lively
time, and thinks he will leave his aristocratic friends, and go to
see it; here he is followed by several young gentlemen, anxious to
enjoy the hilarity of the scene.
"All my property,--right prime, isn't it?" says M'Fadden, exultingly,
nudging one of the young men on the shoulder, as he, returning,
enters the car. The gentleman nods assent, sits down, and coolly
lights his cigar. "Good thing to have a fiddler on a plantation! I'd
rather have it than a preacher; keeps the boys together, and makes
'um a deal better contented," he adds, beginning to exhale the fumes
from his weed.
"Yes!-and ye sees, fellers, how I'ze bought a parson, too. Can do
the thing up brown now, boys, I reckon," remarks the happy
politician, slapping his professional gentleman on the knee, and
laughing right heartily.
Turning to Harry with a firm look, he informs the gentlemen that
"this critter's kind o got the sulks, a'cos Romescos-he hates
Romescos-has bought his wench and young 'uns. Take that out on him,
at my place," he adds.
The dancing continues right merrily. One of the young gentlemen
would like to have the fiddler strike up "Down in Old Tennessee."
The tune is sounded forth with all that warmth of feeling the negro
only can add to the comical action of his body.
"Clar' the way; let the boys have a good time," says Mr. Lawrence
M'Fadden, taking Harry by the arm and giving him a violent shake. He
commands him to join in, and have a jolly good tune with the rest on
"Have no call for that, master. Let me act but the part of servant
"Do you mean to come nigger sulks over this child?" interrupts
M'Fadden, impatiently, scowling his heavy eyebrows, and casting a
ferocious look at Harry. After ordering him to stow himself in a
corner, he gets the others upon the floor, and compels them to
shuffle what he calls a plantation "rip-her-up." The effect of this,
added to the singular positions into which they are frequently
thrown by the motion of the cars, affords infinite amusement.
"You see, gentlemen, there's nothing like putting the springs of
life into property. Makes it worth fifty per cent. more; and then
ye'll get the hard knocks out to a better profit. Old southerners
spoil niggers, makin' so much on 'em; and soft-soapin' on 'em. That
bit o' property's bin spiled just so-he points to Harry, crouched in
the corner-And the critter thinks he can preach! Take that out on
him with a round turn, when I git to my place," he continues.
Harry cares very little for M'Fadden's conversation; he sits as
quietly and peaceably as if it had been addressed to some other
negro. M'Fadden, that he may not be found wanting in his efforts to
amuse the young gentlemen, reaches out his hand to one of them,
takes his cigar from a case, lights it, and proceeds to keep time by
beating his hands on his knees.
The train is approaching the crossing where Mr. M'Fadden will
discharge his property,--his human merchandise, and proceed with it
some eleven miles on the high road. The noise created by the
exuberance of feeling on the part of Mr. M'Fadden has attracted a
numerous assemblage of passengers to the "Jim Crow" car. The
conductor views this as violating the rules of the corporation; he
demands it shall be stopped. All is quiet for a time; they reach the
"crossing" about five o'clock P.M., where, to Mr. Lawrence
M'Fadden's great delight, he finds himself surrounded by a
promiscuous assembly of sovereign citizens, met to partake of the
hospitalities offered by the candidate for the Assembly, who, having
offered himself, expects the distinguished honour of being elected.
The assembled citizens will hear what the learned man's going to
talk about when he gets into the Assembly.
As Mr. M'Fadden is a great politician, and a greater democrat-we
speak according to the southern acceptation-his presence is welcomed
with an enthusiastic burst of applause. Shout after shout makes the
very welkin ring, as his numerous friends gather round him, smile
solicitously, shake him warmly by the hand, honour him as the
peasantry honour the Lord of the Manor.
The crossing-one of those points so well known in the south-is a
flat, wooded lawn, interspersed here and there with clumps of tall
pine-trees. It is generally dignified with a grocery, a justice's
office, and a tavern, where entertainment for man and beast may
always be had. An immense deal of judicial and political business
"is put through a process" at these strange places. The squire's
law-book is the oracle; all settlements must be made by it; all
important sayings drawn from it. The squire himself is scarcely less
an individual of mysterious importance; he draws settled facts from
his copious volume, and thus saves himself the trouble of analysing
them. Open it where he will, the whys and wherefores for every case
are never wanting.
Our present crossing is a place of much importance, being where the
political effervescence of the state often concentrates. It will not
do, however, to analyse that concentration, lest the fungi that give
it life and power may seem to conflict with the safety of law and
order. On other occasions it might be taken for a place of rural
quiet, instead of those indescribable gatherings of the rotten
membranes of a bad political power.
Here the justice's office is attached to the grocery, a little shop
in which all men may drink very deleterious liquor; and, in addition
to the tavern, which is the chief building-a quadrangular structure
raised a few feet from the ground on piles of the palmetto
tree-there is a small church, shingled and clapboarded, and having a
belfry with lattice-work sides. An upper and lower veranda surround
the tavern, affording gentlemen an opportunity to enjoy the shade.
Several of Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden's friends meet him at the station,
and, as he receives his property, assist him in securing it with
irons preparatory to lodging it in a place of safe keeping.
"Goin' t' make this chap a deacon on my place; can preach like
sixty. It'll save the trouble sendin' north for such trash as they
send us. Can make this feller truer on southern principles," says
M'Fadden, exultingly, addressing himself to his companions, looking
Harry smilingly in the face, and patting him on the shoulder. The
gentlemen view Harry with particular admiration, and remark upon his
fine points with the usual satisfaction of connoisseurs. Mr.
M'Fadden will secure his preacher, in iron fellowship, to the left
hand of the woman slave.
"All right!" he says, as the irons are locked, and he marches his
property up to the tavern, where he meets mine host-a short, fat
man, with a very red and good-natured face, who always dresses in
brown clothes, smiles, and has an extra laugh for 'lection days-who
stands his consequential proportions in the entrance to the lower
veranda, and is receiving his customers with the blandest smiles. "I
thinks a right smart heap on ye, or I would'nt a' 'gin ye that gal
for a mate," continues M'Fadden, walking along, looking at Harry
earnestly, and, with an air of self-congratulation, ejecting a
quantity of tobacco-juice from his capacious mouth. "Mr. M'Fadden is
very, very welcome;" so says mine host, who would have him take a
social glass with his own dear self.
Mr. M'Fadden must be excused until he has seen the place in which to
deposit his preacher and other property.
"Ah, ha!"-mine host cants his ear, enquiringly;--"want grits for 'em,
I s'pose?" he returns, and his round fat face glows with
satisfaction. "Can suit you to a shavin'."
"That's right, Colonel; I know'd ye could," ejaculates the other.
Mine host is much elated at hearing his title appended. Colonel
Frank Jones-such is mine host's name--never fought but one duel, and
that was the time when, being a delegate to the southern blowing-up
convention, lately holden in the secession city of Charleston, he
entered his name on the register of the Charleston Hotel--"Colonel
Frank Jones, Esq., of the South Carolina Dragoons;" beneath which an
impertinent wag scrawled-"Corporal James Henry Williamson M'Donal
Cudgo, Esq. of the same regiment." Colonel Frank Jones, Esq. took
this very gross insult in the highest kind of dudgeon, and forthwith
challenged the impertinent wag to settle the matter as became
gentlemen. The duel, however, ended quite as harmlessly as the
blowing-up convention of which Mr. Colonel Frank Jones was a
delegate, the seconds-thoughtless wretches-having forgot to put
bullets in the weapons.
Our readers must excuse us for digressing a little. Mine host rubs
his hands, draws his mouth into a dozen different puckers, and then
cries out at the top of his voice, "Ho, boys, ho!"
Three or four half-clad negroes come scampering into the room, ready
to answer the summons. "Take charge o' this property o' my friend's
here. Get 'em a good tuck out o' grits."
"Can grind 'em themselves," interrupts M'Fadden, quickly. "About the
"That's all straight," spreading his hands with an accompanying nod
of satisfaction: "'commodate ye with a first-rate lock-up and the
grits at seven-pence a day."
"No objection." Mr. M'Fadden is entirely satisfied. The waiters take
the gentleman's property in charge, and conduct it to a small
building, an appropriate habitation of hens and pigs. It was of
logs, rough hewn, without chinking; without floor to keep Mr.
M'Fadden's property from the ground, damp and cold. Unsuited as it
is to the reception of human beings, many planters of great opulence
have none better for their plantation people. It is about ten feet
high, seven broad, and eleven long.
"Have a dandy time on't in here to-night," says Mr. M'Fadden,
addressing himself to Harry, as one of the waiters unlocks the door
and ushers the human property into its dreary abode. Mr. M'Fadden
will step inside, to take a bird's-eye view of the security of the
place. He entertains some doubts about the faith of his preacher,
however, and has half an inclination to turn round as he is about
making his exit. He will. Approaches Harry a second time; he feels
his pockets carefully, and suggests that he has some mischievous
weapon of liberty stowed away somewhere. He presses and presses his
hands to his skirts and bosom. And now he knew he was not mistaken,
for he feels something solid in the bosom of his shirt, which is not
his heart, although that thing makes a deuce of a fluttering. Mr.
M'Fadden's anxiety increases as he squeezes his hands over its
shapes, and watches the changes of Harry's countenance. "Book,
ha'h!" he exclaims, drawing the osnaburg tight over the square with
his left hand, while, with his right, he suddenly grasps Harry
firmly by the hair of the head, as if he has discovered an infernal
machine. "Book, ha'h!"
"Pull it out, old buck. That's the worst o' learned niggers; puts
the very seven devils in their black heads, and makes 'em carry
their conceit right into nigger stubbornness, so ye have t' bring it
out by lashin' and botherin'. Can't stand such nigger nonsense
Harry has borne all very peaceably; but there is a time when even
the worm will turn. He draws forth the book,--it is the Bible, his
hope and comforter; he has treasured it near his heart-that heart
that beats loudly against the rocks of oppression. "What man can he
be who feareth the word of God, and says he is of his chosen?
Master, that's my Bible: can it do evil against righteousness? It is
the light my burdened spirit loves, my guide--"
"Your spirit?" inquires M'Fadden, sullenly, interrupting Harry. "A
black spirit, ye' mean, ye' nigger of a preacher. I didn't buy that,
nor don't want it. 'Taint worth seven coppers in picking time. But I
tell ye, cuff, wouldn't mind lettin' on ye preach, if a feller can
make a spec good profit on't." The gentleman concludes, contracting
his eyebrows, and scowling at his property forbiddingly.
"You'll let me have it again when I gets on the plantation, won't
ye, master?" inquires Harry, calmly.
"Let you have it on the plantation?"-Mr. M'Fadden gives his preacher
a piercingly fierce look-"that's just where ye won't have 't. Have
any kind o' song-book ye' wants; only larn 'em to other niggers, so
they can put in the chorus once in a while. Now, old buck (I'm a man
o' genius, ye know), when niggers get larnin' the Bible out o' ther'
own heads, 't makes 'em sassy'r than ther's any calculatin' on. It
just puts the very d-l into property. Why, deacon," he addresses
himself to Harry with more complacency, "my old father-he was as
good a father as ever came from Dublin-said it was just the spilin'
on his children to larn 'em to read. See me, now! what larnin' I'ze
got; got it all don't know how: cum as nat'ral as daylight. I've got
the allfired'st sense ye ever did see; and it's common sense what
makes money. Yer don't think a feller what's got sense like me would
bother his head with larnin' in this ar' down south?" Mr. M'Fadden
exhibits great confidence in himself, and seems quite playful with
his preacher, whom he pats on the shoulder and shakes by the hand.
"I never read three chapters in that ar' book in my whole
life-wouldn't neither. Really, deacon, two-thirds of the people of
our State can't read a word out o' that book. As for larnin', I just
put me mind on the thing, and got the meanin' out on't sudden."
Mr. M'Fadden's soothing consolation, that, as he has become such a
wonderful specimen of mankind without learning, Harry must be a very
dangerous implement of progress if allowed to go about the
plantation with a Bible in his pocket, seems strange in this our
Christian land. "Can fiddle just as much as yer mind t'," concludes
Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden, as he again shakes the hand of his preacher,
and proceeds to mingle with the political gathering, the Bible in
HOW WE MANUFACTURE POLITICAL FAITH.
MR. M'FADDEN enters the tavern, which presents one of those
grotesque scenes so peculiarly southern, almost impossible for the
reader to imagine, and scarcely less for pen to describe. In and
around the verandas are numerous armchairs, occupied by the
fashionable portion of the political material, who, dressed in
extreme profuseness, are displaying their extraordinary distinctions
in jewellery of heavy seals and long dangling chains. Some are young
men who have enjoyed the advantage of a liberal education, which
they now turn into the more genial duty of ornamenting themselves.
They have spent much time and many valuable cosmetics on their
heads, all of which is very satisfactorily repaid by the smoothness
of their hair. Their pleasure never penetrated beyond this; they ask
They ask but little of the world, and are discussing the
all-important question, whether Colonel Mophany or General Vandart
will get the more votes at the polls. So they smoke and harangue,
and drink and swear, and with inimitable provincialisms fill up the
clattering music. There is a fascinating piquancy in the strange
slang and conversational intermixture. It is a great day at the
crossing; the political sediment has reduced all men to one grade,
one harmonious whole, niggers excepted. Spirits that cannot flow one
way must flow another.
In an adjoining room sit the two candidates-gentlemen of high
distinction-for the votes of the sovereign people. Through those
sovereign rights they will satisfy their yearning desire to reach
the very high position of member of the general assembly. Anxiety is
pictured on their very countenances; it is the fruit of care when
men travel the road to distinction without finding it. They are well
dressed, and would be modest, if modesty were worth its having in
such an atmosphere. Indeed, they might have been taken for men with
other motives than those of gaining office by wallowing in a
political quagmire reeking with democratic filth. Courteous to each
other, they sit at a large table containing long slips of paper,
each candidate's sentiments printed thereon. As each voter--good
fellow that he is--enters the room, one or the other candidate
reaches out his hand to welcome him, and, as a sequel, hands him his
slip, making the politest bow. Much is said about the prospects of
the South, and much more that is very acceptable to those about to
do the drinking part of the scene.
Both candidates are very ambitious men; both profess to be the
people's champion-the sovereign people-the dear people-the
noble-hearted people-the iron-handed, unbribable, unterrified
democracy-the people from whom all power springs. The
never-flinching, unterrified, irresistible democracy are smothered
with encomiums of praise, sounding from all parts of the room. Mr.
Lawrence M'Fadden is ushered into the room to the great joy of his
friends: being a very great man among the loyal voters, his
appearance produces great excitement.
Several friends of the candidates, working for their favourites, are
making themselves very humble in their behalf. Although there is
little care for maintaining any fundamental principle of government
that does not serve his own pocket, Mr. M'Fadden can and will
control a large number of votes, do a deal of knocking down at the
polls, and bring up first-rate fighting men to do the keeping away
the opposite's constituents. Thus our man, who has lately been
bought as preacher, is most useful in this our little democratic
Some two or three hundred persons have collected near a clump of
trees on the lawn, and are divided into knots intermixed with
ruffian-looking desperadoes, dressed most coarsely and
fantastically. They are pitting their men, after the fashion of good
horses; then they boldly draw forth and expose the minor
delinquencies of opposing candidates. Among them are the "Saw-
piters," who affect an air of dignity, and scout the planter's offer
of work so long as a herring runs the river; the "piny woods-man,"
of great independence while rabbits are found in the woods, and he
can wander over the barren unrestrained; and the "Wire-Grass-Men;"
and the Crackers,
Singular species of gypsies, found throughout the State. who live
anywhere and everywhere, and whom the government delights to keep
in ignorance, while declaring it much better they were enslaved. The
State possesses many thousands of these people; but few of them can
read, while never having written a stroke in their lives is a boast.
Continually armed with double-barrel guns, to hunt the panting buck
is one of their sports; to torture a runaway negro is another; to
make free with a planter's corn field is the very best. The reader
may imagine this picture of lean, craven faces-unshaven and made
fiercely repulsive by their small, treacherous eyes, if he can. It
can only be seen in these our happy slave states of our happy Union.
The time draws near when the candidates will come forward, address
the sovereign constituency, and declare their free and open
principles-their love of liberal governments, and their undying
affection for the great truths of democracy. The scene, as the time
approaches, becomes more and more animated. All are armed to the
teeth, with the symbol of honour--something so called--beneath their
coarse doublets, or in the waistbands of their pantaloons. The group
evinces so much excitement that belligerents are well nigh coming to
blows; in fact, peace is only preserved by the timely appearance of
the landlord, who proclaims that unless order be preserved until
after the candidates have addressed them, the next barrel of whiskey
will positively "not be tapped." He could not use a more effectual
argument. Mr. M'Fadden, who exercises great authority over the
minions under him, at this announcement mounts the top of an empty
whiskey barrel, and declares he will whip the "whole crowd," if they
do not cease to wage their political arguments.
While the above cursory remarks and party sparrings are going on,
some forty negroes are seen busily employed preparing the
indispensable adjuncts of the occasion-the meats. Here, beneath the
clump of trees, a few yards from the grocery and justices' office,
the candidates' tables are being spread with cold meats, crackers,
bread and cheese, cigars, &c., &c. As soon as the gentlemen
candidates have delivered themselves of their sentiments, two
barrels of real "straight-back" whiskey will be added.
"This is the way we puts our candidate through, down south, ye see,
fellers, voters: it's we what's the bone and siners o' the rights o'
the south. It's we what's got t' take the slow-coach politics out o'
the hands o' them ar' old harristocrats what don't think them ar'
northern abolitionists han't goin to do nothin. It's we, fellow
citizens, what puts southern-rights principles clean through; it's
we what puts them ar' old Union haristocrats, what spiles all the
nigger property, into the straight up way o' doing things! Now,
feller voters, free and independent citizens-freemen who have fought
for freedom,--you, whose old, grey-headed fathers died for freedom!
it takes you t' know what sort a thing freedom is; and how to enjoy
it so niggers can't take it away from you! I'ze lived north way,
know how it is! Yer jist the chaps to put niggers straight,--to vote
for my man, Colonel Mohpany," Mr. M'Fadden cries out at the very top
of his voice, as he comes rushing out of the tavern, edging his way
through the crowd, followed by the two candidates. The gentlemen
look anxiously good-natured; they walk together to the rostrum,
followed by a crowd, measuring their way to the assembly through the
darling affections of our free and independent voters. Gossamer
As they reach the rostrum, a carriage is seen in the distance,
approaching in great haste. All attention being directed to it, the
first candidate, Colonel Mohpany, mounts the stump, places his right
hand in his bosom, and pauses as if to learn who it brings. To the
happy consolation of Mr. M'Fadden and his friends, it bears Mr.
Scranton the philosopher. Poor Mr. Scranton looks quite worn out
with anxiety; he has come all the way from the city, prepared with
the very best kind of a southern-rights speech, to relieve his
friend, General Vardant, who is not accustomed to public
declamation. The General is a cunning fellow, fears the stump
accomplishments of his antagonist, and has secured the valuable
services of philosopher Scranton. Mr. S. will tell the constituency,
in very logical phraseology,--making the language suit the sentiments
of his friends,--what principles must be maintained; how the General
depends upon the soundness of their judgment to sustain him; how
they are the bone and sinews of the great political power of the
South; how their hard, uncontrastable appearance, and their garments
of similar primitiveness, are emblematic of the iron firmness of
their democracy. Mr. Scranton will further assure them that their
democracy is founded on that very accommodating sort of freedom
which will be sure to keep all persons of doubtful colour in
Mr. Scranton arrives, receives the congratulations of his friends,
gets the negroes to brush him down,--for it is difficult to
distinguish him from a pillar of dust, save that we have his modest
eyes for assurances-takes a few glasses of moderate mixture, and
coolly collects his ideas. The mixture will bring out Mr. Scranton's
philosophical facts: and, now that he has got his face and beard
cleanly washed, he will proceed to the stand. Here he is received
with loud cheering; the gentleman is a great man, all the way from
the city. Sitting on a chair he is sorry was made at the north, he
exhibits a deal of method in taking from his pocket a long cedar
pencil, with which he will make notes of all Colonel Mohpany's loose
The reader, we feel assured, will excuse us for not following
Colonel Mohpany through his speech, so laudatory of the patriotism
of his friends, so much interrupted by applause. The warm manner in
which his conclusion is received assures him that he now is the most
popular man in the State. Mr. Scranton, armed with his usually
melancholy countenance, rises to the stump, makes his modestly
political bow, offers many impressive apologies for the unprepared
state in which he finds himself, informs his hearers that he appears
before them only as a substitute for his very intimate and
particular friend, General Vardant. He, too, has a wonderful
prolixity of compliments to bestow upon the free, the patriotic, the
independent voters of the very independent district. He tries to be
facetious; but his temperament will not admit of any
inconsistencies, not even in a political contest. No! he must be
serious; because the election of a candidate to so high an office is
a serious affair. So he will tell the "Saw-pit men" a great deal
about their noble sires; how they lived and died for liberty; how
the tombstones of immortality are emblazoned with the fame of their
glorious deeds. And he will tell these glorious squatters what
inalienable rights they possess; how they must be maintained; and
how they have always been first to maintain the principle of keeping
"niggers" in their places, and resisting those mischievous
propagators of northern villainy-abolitionists. He will tell the
deep-thinking saw-pit voters how it has been charged against them
that they were only independent once a year, and that was when
herrings run up the Santee river. Such a gross slander Mr. Scranton
declares to be the most impious. They were always independent; and,
if they were poor, and preferred to habit themselves in primitive
garbs, it was only because they preferred to be honest! This, Mr.
Scranton, the northern philosopher, asserts with great emphasis.
Yes! they are honest; and honest patriots are always better than
rich traitors. From the san-pit men, Mr. Scranton, his face
distended with eloquence, turns to his cracker and "wire-grass"
friends, upon whom he bestows most piercing compliments. Their lean
mules-the speaker laughs at his own wit-and pioneer waggons always
remind him of the good old times, when he was a boy, and everybody
was so honest it was unnecessary even to have such useless finery as
people put on at the present day. A word or two, very derogatory of
the anti-slavery people, is received with deafening applause. Of the
descendants of the Huguenots he says but little; they are few, rich,
and very unpopular in this part of the little sovereign state. And
he quite forgot to tell this unlettered mass of a sovereign
constituency the true cause of their poverty and degradation. Mr.
Scranton, however, in one particular point, which is a vital one to
the slave-ocracy, differs with the ungovernable Romescos,--he would
not burn all common schools, nor scout all such trash as
In another part of Mr. Scranton's speech he enjoins them to be
staunch supporters of men known to be firm to the south, and who
would blow up every yankee who came south, and refused to declare
his sentiments to be for concession. "You!"-he points round him to
the grotesque crowd-"were first to take a stand and keep niggers
down; to keep them where they can't turn round and enslave you!
Great Britain, fell ercitizens,"-Mr. Scranton begins to wax warm; he
adjusts his coat sleeves, and draws himself into a tragic attitude
as he takes his tobacco from his mouth, seemingly unconscious of his
own enthusiasm-I say Great Britain-" A sudden interruption is
caused. Mr. Scranton's muddled quid, thrown with such violence, has
bedaubed the cheek of an admiring saw-pitter, whose mind was
completely absorbed in his eloquence. He was listening with
breathless suspense, and only saved its admission in his capacious
mouth by closing it a few seconds before.
"Sarved him just right; keep on, Colonel!" exclaims Mr. M'Fadden. He
takes the man by the arm, pushes him aside, and makes a slight bow
to Mr. Scranton. He would have him go on.
"Great Britain-feller citizens, I say-was first to commence the
warfare against nigger slavery; and now she is joining the north to
seek its permanent overthrow. She is a monster tyrant wherever she
sets her foot-I say! (Three cheers for that.) She contributed to
fasten the curse upon us; and now she wants to destroy us by taking
it away according to the measures of the northern
abolitionists-fanaticism! Whatever the old school southerner
neglects to do for the preservation of the peculiar institution, we
must do for him! And we, who have lived at the north, can, with your
independent support, put the whole thing through a course of
political crooks." Again Mr. Scranton pauses; surveys his assembly
of free and independent citizens.
"That we can: I knows what fanatics down east be!" rejoins Mr.
M'Fadden, shaking his head very knowingly. He laughs with an air of
great satisfaction, as much as to say that, with such northern
philosophers to do the championism of slavery in the south, all the
commercial relations for which northern merchants are under so many
obligations to slave-labour, will be perfectly safe. But Mr.
Scranton has drawn out his speech to such an uncommon length, that
the loquacious M'Fadden is becoming decidedly wearied. His eyes
begin to glow languid, and the lids to close,--and now he nods assent
to all Mr. Scranton's sayings, which singularly attracts the
attention of that orator's hearers. The orator becomes very much
annoyed at this, suddenly stops-begs Mr. M'Fadden will postpone his
repose. This, from so great a man as Mr. Scranton, is accepted as
provokingly witty. Mr. M'Fadden laughs; and they all laugh. The
gentleman will continue his speech.
"The South must come out; must establish free trade, direct
trade,--trade that will free her from her disreputable association
with the North. She can do it!" Mr. Scranton wipes his forehead with
his white pocket-handkerchief.
"Ain't we deeply indebted to the North?" a voice in the crowd cries
"Well! what if we are? Can't we offset the debts on the principles
of war? Let it go against the injury of abolition excitements!" Mr.
Scranton makes a theatrical flourish with his right hand, and runs
the fingers of his left through his crispy hair, setting it on end
like quills on a porcupine's back. Three long and loud cheers
follow, and the gentleman is involuntarily compelled to laugh at his
own singular sayings. "The South must hold conventions; she must
enforce constitutional guarantees; she must plant herself in the
federal capital, and plead her cause at the bar of the world. She
will get a hearing there! And she must supplant that dangerous
engine of abolition, now waging war against our property, our
rights, our social system." Thus concluding, Mr. Scranton sits down,
very much fatigued from his mental effervescence, yet much lighter
from having relieved himself of his speech, amidst a storm of
applause. Such a throwing up of hats and slouches, such jostling,
abetting, and haranguing upon the merits of the candidates, their
speeches and their sentiments, never was heard or seen before.
Mine host now mounts the stand to make the welcome announcement,
that, the speeches being over, the eating entertainments are ready.
He hopes the friends of the candidates will repair to the tables,
and help themselves without stint or restraint. As they are on the
point of rushing upon the tables, Colonel Mohpany suddenly jumps up,
and arrests the progress of the group by intimating that he has one
word more to say. That word is, his desire to inform the bone and
sinew of the constituency that his opponent belongs to a party which
once declared in the Assembly that they-the very men who stand
before him now-were a dangerous class unless reduced to slavery! The
Colonel has scarcely delivered himself of this very clever charge,
when the tables, a few yards distant, are surrounded by promiscuous
friends and foes, who help themselves after the fashion most
advantageous. All rules of etiquette are unceremoniously dispensed
with,--he who can secure most is the best diplomatist. Many find
their mouths so inadequate to the temptation of the feast, that they
improve on Mr. Scranton's philosophy by making good use of their
ample pockets. Believe us, reader, the entertainment is the
essential part of the candidate's political virtue, which must be
measured according to the extent of his cold meats and very bad
To carry out the strength of General Vardant's principles, several
of his opponent's friends are busily employed in circulating a
report that his barrel of whiskey has been "brought on" only half
full. A grosser slander could not have been invented. But the report
gains circulation so fast, that his meats and drinks are
mischievously absorbed, and the demonstration of his unpopular
position begins to be manifest. The candidates, unflinching in their
efforts, mix with the medley, have the benefit of the full exercise
of free thought and action, hear various opinions upon "the Squire's
chances," and listen to the chiming of high-sounding compliments.
While this clanging of merry jargon is at its highest, as if by some
magic influence Romescos makes his appearance, and immediately
commences to pit sides with Mr. M'Fadden. With all Romescos'
outlawry, he is tenacious of his southern origin; and he will assert
its rights against Mr. M'Fadden, whom he declares to be no better
than a northern humbug, taking advantage of southern institutions.
To him all northerners are great vagabonds, having neither
principles nor humanity in their composition; he makes the assertion
emphatically, without fear or trembling; and he calls upon his
friends to sustain him, that he may maintain the rights of the
South. Those rights Romescos asserts, and re-asserts, can only be
preserved by southern men-not by sneaking northerners, who, with
their trade, pocket their souls. Northerners are great men for
whitewashing their faces with pretence! Romescos is received with
considerable ‚clat. He declares, independently, that Mr. Scranton
too is no less a sheer humbug of the same stripe, and whose
humbugging propensities make him the humble servant of the south so
long as he can make a dollar by the bemeaning operation. His full
and unmeasured appreciation of all this northern-southern
independence is here given to the world for the world's good. And he
wants the world to particularly understand, that the old southerner
is the only independent man, the only true protector of humanity!
Romescos' sudden appearance, and the bold stand he takes against Mr.
M'Fadden and his candidate, produce the utmost confusion; he being
unpopular with the saw-pit men, with whom he once exhibited
considerable dexterity in carrying off one of their number and
putting the seal of slavery on him, they take sides against him. It
is the Saw-pitters against Romescos and the Crackers. The spirits
have flowed, and now the gods of our political power sway to and fro
under most violent shocks. Many, being unable to keep a
perpendicular, are accusing each other of all sorts of misdeeds-of
the misdeeds of their ancestors-of the specific crimes they
committed-the punishments they suffered. From personalities of their
own time they descend forth into jeering each other on matters of
family frailty, setting what their just deserts would have entitled
them to receive. They continue in this strain of jargon for some
time, until at length it becomes evident the storm of war is fast
approaching a crisis. Mr. M'Fadden is mentally unprepared to meet
this crisis, which Romescos will make to suit himself; and to this
end the comical and somewhat tragical finale seems pretty well
understood by the candidates and a few of the "swell-ocracy," who
have assembled more to see the grand representation of physical
power on the part of these free and enlightened citizens, than to
partake of the feast or listen to the rhetoric of the speeches. In
order to get a good view of the scene they have ascended trees,
where, perched among their branches like so many jackals, they cheer
and urge on the sport, as the nobility of Spain applaud a favourite
champion of the ring. At length the opposing parties doff their hats
and coats, draw knives, make threatening grimaces, and twirl their
steel in the air: their desperation is earnest; they make an onset,
charging with the bravado of men determined to sacrifice life. The
very air resounds with their shouts of blasphemy; blood flows from
deep incisions of bowie-knives, garments are rent into shreds; and
men seem to have betaken themselves to personating the demons.
Would that they were rational beings! would that they were men
capable of constituting a power to protect the liberty of principle
and the justice of law! Shout after shout goes up; tumult is
triumphant. Two fatal rencontres are announced, and Mr. Lawrence
M'Fadden is dangerously wounded; he has a cut in the abdomen. The
poor victims attract but little attention; such little trifling
affairs are very common, scarcely worth a word of commiseration. One
gentleman insinuates that the affair has been a desperately amusing
one; another very coolly adds, that this political feed has had much
more interest in it than any preceding one.
The victims are rolled in blankets, and laid away in the corn-shed;
they will await the arrival of the coroner, who, the landlord says,
it will be no more than right to send for. They are only two dead
Crackers, however, and nobody doubts what the verdict will be. In
truth-and it must be told once in a while, even in our
atmosphere-the only loss is the two votes, which the candidate had
already secured with his meat and drink, and which have now, he
regrets, been returned to the box of death instead of his ballot.
Poor voters, now only fit to serve the vilest purpose! how degraded
in the scale of human nature is the being, only worth a suffrance at
elections, where votes cast from impulse control the balance of
power. Such beings are worth just nothing; they would not sell in
the market. The negro waiters say, "It don't make a bit of matter
how much white rubbish like this is killed, it won't fetch a bid in
the market; and when you sell it, it won't stay sold."
"Lose I dat way, Cato, might jist as well take tousand dollar
straight out o' mas'r's pocket; but dese critters b'nt notin'
nohow," says old Daniel, one of the servants, who knows the value of
his own body quite well. Daniel exults as he looks upon the dead
bodies he is assisting to deposit in the corn-shed.
Mr. M'Fadden is carefully borne into the tavern, where, after much
difficulty, he is got up stairs and laid on a very nice bed, spread
with snowy white linen. A physician is called, and his wound dressed
with all possible skill and attention. He is in great pain, however;
begs his friends to bestow all care upon him, and save no expense.
Thus ends our political day. The process of making power to shape
the social and political weal of our State, closes.
MR. M'FADDEN SEES SHADOWS IN THE FUTURE.
NIGHT has quickly drawn its curtain over the scene. Mr. M'Fadden
lies on his bed, writhing under the pain of the poisoned wound. He
left his preacher locked up for the night in a cold hovel, and he
has secured the dangerous Bible, lest it lessen his value. Mr.
M'Fadden, however, feels that now his earthly career is fast closing
he must seek redemption. Hie has called in the aid of a physician,
who tells him there is great danger, and little hope unless his case
takes a favourable turn about midnight. The professional gentleman
merely suggests this, but the suggestion conveys an awful warning.
All the misdeeds of the past cloud before his eyes; they summon him
to make his peace with his Maker. He remembers what has been told
him about the quality of mercy,--the duration of hope in
redemption,--which he may secure by rendering justice to those he has
wronged. But now conscience wars with him; he sees the fierce
elements of retribution gathering their poisoned shafts about him;
he quails lest their points pierce his heart; and he sees the God of
right arraigning him at the bar of justice. There, that Dispenser of
all Good sits in his glory and omnipotence, listening while the
oppressed recites his sufferings: the oppressed there meets him face
to face, robed in that same garb of submission which he has
inflicted upon him on earth. His fevered brain gives out strange
warnings,--warnings in which he sees the angel of light unfolding the
long list of his injustice to his fellow man, and an angry God
passing the awful sentence. Writhing, turning, and contorting his
face, his very soul burns with the agony of despair. He grasps the
hand of his physician, who leans over his wounded body, and with
eyes distorted and glassy, stares wildly and frantically round the
room. Again, as if suffering inward torture, he springs from his
pillow, utters fierce imprecations against the visions that surround
him, grasps at them with his out-stretched fingers, motions his
hand backward and forward, and breaks out into violent paroxysms of
passion, as if struggling in the unyielding grasp of death.
That physical power which has so long borne him up in his daily
pursuits yields to the wanderings of his haunted mind. He lays his
hand upon the physician's shoulder as his struggles now subside,
looks mournfully in his face, and rather mutters than speaks:
"Bring-bring-bring him here: I'll see him,--I must see him! I-I-I
took away the book; there's what makes the sting worse! And when I
close my eyes I see it burning fiercely-"
"Who shall I bring?" interrupts the physician, mildly, endeavouring
to soothe his feelings by assuring him there is no danger, if he
will but remain calm.
"Heaven is casting its thick vengeance round me; heaven is consuming
me with the fire of my own heart! How can I be calm, and my past
life vaulted with a glow of fire? The finger of Almighty God points
to that deed I did today. I deprived a wretch of his only hope: that
wretch can forgive me before heaven. Y-e-s, he can,--can speak for
me,--can intercede for me; he can sign my repentance, and save me
from the just vengeance of heaven. His-his-his-"
"What?" the physician whispers, putting his ear to his mouth. "Be
"Calm!" he mutters in return.
"Neither fear death nor be frightened at its shadows-"
"It's life, life, life I fear--not death!" he gurgles out. "Bring him
to me; there is the Bible. Oh! how could I have robbed him of it!
'Twas our folly--all folly--my folly!" Mr. M'Fadden had forgotten that
the bustle of current life was no excuse for his folly; that it
would be summed up against him in the day of trouble. He never for
once thought that the Bible and its teachings were as dear to slave
as master, and that its truths were equally consoling in the hour of
death. In life it strengthens man's hopes; could it have been thus
with M'Fadden before death placed its troubled sea before his eyes,
how happy he would have died in the Lord!
The emphatic language, uttered in such supplicating tones, and so at
variance with his habits of life, naturally excited the feelings of
his physician, whose only solicitude had been evinced in his efforts
to save life,--to heal the wound. Never had he watched at a patient's
bed-side who had exhibited such convulsions of passion,--such fears
Now struggling against a storm of convulsions, then subsiding into
sluggish writhings, accompanied with low moans, indicating more
mental disquietude than bodily pain. Again he is quiet; points to
The physician brings it forward and lays it upon the bed, where Mr.
M'Fadden can put his hand upon it. "It is there--in there!" he says,
turning on his left side, and with a solicitous look pointing to the
pockets of his coat. The professional gentleman does not understand
He half raises himself on his pillow, but sinks back fatigued, and
faintly whispers, "Oh, take it to him--to him! Give him the
comforter: bring him, poor fellow, to me, that his spirit may be my
The physician understands, puts his hand into the pocket; draws
forth the little boon companion. It is the Bible, book of books; its
great truths have borne Harry through many trials,--he hopes it will
be his shield and buckler to carry him through many more. Its
associations are as dear to him as its teachings are consoling in
the days of tribulation. It is dear to him, because the promptings
of a noble-hearted woman secretly entrusted it to his care, in
violation of slavery's statutes. Its well-worn pages bear testimony
of the good service it has done. It was Franconia's gift-Franconia,
whose tender emotions made her the friend of the slave-made in the
kindness of woman's generous nature. The good example, when
contrasted with the fierce tenor of slavery's fears, is worthy many
But men seldom profit by small examples, especially when great fears
The physician, holding the good book in his hand, enquires if Mr.
M'Fadden would have him read from it? He has no answer to make,
turns his feverish face from it, closes his eyes, and compressing
his forehead with his hands, mutely shakes his head. A minute or two
passes in silence; he has re-considered the point,--answers, no! He
wants Harry brought to him, that he may acknowledge his crimes; that
he may quench the fire of unhappiness burning within him. "How
seldom we think of death while in life,--and how painful to see death
while gathering together the dross of this worldly chaos! Great,
great, great is the reward of the good, and mighty is the hand of
Omnipotence that, holding the record of our sins, warns us to
prepare." As Mr. M'Fadden utters these words, a coloured woman
enters the room to enquire if the patient wants nourishment. She
will wait at the door.
The physician looks at the patient; the patient shakes his head and
whispers, "Only the boy. The boy I bought to-day." The Bible lays at
his side on the sheet. He points to it, again whispering, "The boy I
took it from!"
The boy, the preacher, Mr. M'Fadden's purchase, can read; she will
know him by that; she must bring him from the shed, from his cold
bed of earth. That crime of slavery man wastes his energies to make
right, is wrong in the sight of heaven; our patient reads the
glaring testimony as the demons of his morbid fancy haunt him with
their damning terrors, their ghastly visages.
"Go, woman, bring him!" he whispers again.
Almost motionless the woman stands. She has seen the little book-she
knows it, and her eyes wander over the inscription on the cover. A
deep blush shadows her countenance; she fixes her piercing black
eyes upon it until they seem melting into sadness; with a delicacy
and reserve at variance with her menial condition, she approaches
the bed, lays her hand upon the book, and, while the physician's
attention is attracted in another direction, closes its pages, and
is about to depart.
"Can you tell which one he wants, girl?" enquires the physician, in
a stern voice.
"His name, I think, is Harry; and they say the poor thing can
preach; forgive me what I have done to him, oh Lord! It is the
weakness of man grasping the things of this world, to leave behind
for the world's nothingness," says Mr. M'Fadden, as the woman leaves
the room giving an affirmative reply.
The presence of the Bible surprised the woman; she knew it as the
one much used by Harry, on Marston's plantation. It was Franconia's
gift! The associations of the name touched the chord upon which hung
the happiest incidents of her life. Retracing her steps down the
stairs, she seeks mine host of the tavern, makes known the demand,
and receives the keys of this man-pen of our land of liberty.
Lantern in hand, she soon reaches the door, unlocks it gently, as if
she expects the approach of some strange object, and fears a sudden
There the poor dejected wretches lay; nothing but earth's surface
for a bed,--no blanket to cover them. They have eaten their measure
of corn, and are sleeping; they sleep while chivalry revels! Harry
has drawn his hat partly over his face, and made a pillow of the
little bundle he carried under his arm.
Passing from one to the other, the woman approaches him, as if to
see if she can recognise any familiar feature. She stoops over him,
passes the light along his body, from head to foot, and from foot to
head. "Can it be our Harry?" she mutters. "It can't be; master
wouldn't sell him." Her eyes glare with anxiety as they wander up
and down his sleeping figure.
"Harry,--Harry,--Harry! which is Harry?" she demands.
Scarcely has she lisped the words, when the sleeper starts to his
feet, and sets his eyes on the woman with a stare of wonderment. His
mind wanders-bewildered; is he back on the old plantation? That
cannot be; they would not thus provide for him there. "Back at the
old home! Oh, how glad I am: yes, my home is there, with good old
master. My poor old woman; I've nothing for her, nothing," he says,
extending his hand to the woman, and again, as his mind regains
itself, their glances become mutual; the sympathy of two old
associates gushes forth from the purest of fountains,--the oppressed
"Harry-oh, Harry! is it you?"
"Ellen! my good Ellen, my friend, and old master's friend!" is the
"Sold you, too?" enquires Harry, embracing her with all the fervour
of a father who has regained his long-lost child. She throws her
arms about his neck, and clings to him, as he kisses, and kisses,
and kisses her olive brow.
"My sale, Harry, was of little consequence; but why did they sell
you? (Her emotions have swollen into tears). You must tell me all,
to-night! You must tell me of my child, my Nicholas,--if master
cares for him, and how he looks, grows, and acts. Oh, how my heart
beats to have him at my side;--when, when will that day come! I would
have him with me, even if sold for the purpose." Tears gush down her
cheeks, as Harry, encircling her with his arm, whispers words of
consolation in her ear.
"If we were always for this world, Ellen, our lot could not be
borne. But heaven has a recompense, which awaits us in the world to
come. Ellen!"-he holds her from him and looks intently in her
face-"masters are not to blame for our sufferings,--the law is the
sinner! Hope not, seek not for common justice, rights, privileges,
or anything else while we are merchandise among men who, to please
themselves, gamble with our souls and bodies. Take away that
injustice, Ellen, and men who now plead our unprofitableness would
hide their heads with shame. Make us men, and we will plead our own
cause; we will show to the world that we are men; black men, who can
be made men when they are not made merchandise." Ellen must tell him
what has brought her here, first! He notices sad changes in her
countenance, and feels anxious to listen to the recital of her
She cannot tell him now, and begs that he will not ask her, as the
recollection of them fills her heart with sorrow. She discloses the
object of her mission, will guide him to his new master, who, they
say, is going to die, and feels very bad about it. He was a
desperate man on his plantation, and has become the more contrite at
death's call. "I hope God will forgive him!"
"He will!-He will! He is forgiving," interrupts Harry, hurriedly.
Ellen reconnoitres the wearied bodies of the others as they lie
around. "Poor wretches! what can I do for them?" she says, holding
the lamp over them. She can do but little for them, poor girl. The
will is good, but the wherewith she hath not. Necessity is a hard
master; none know it better than the slave woman. She will take
Harry by the hand, and, retracing her steps, usher him into the
presence of the wounded man. Pressing his hand as she opens the
door, she bids him good night, and retires to her cabin. "Poor
Harry!" she says, with a sigh.
The kind woman is Ellen Juvarna. She has passed another eventful
stage of her eventful life. Mine host, good fellow, bought her of
Mr. O'Brodereque, that's all!
HOW THEY STOLE THE PREACHER.
THE scenes we have described in the foregoing chapter have not yet
been brought to a close. In and about the tavern may be seen groups
of men, in the last stage of muddled mellowness, the rank fumes of
bad liquor making the very air morbid. Conclaves of grotesque
figures are seated in the veranda and drinking-room, breaking the
midnight stillness with their stifled songs, their frenzied
congratulations, their political jargon; nothing of fatal
consequence would seem to have happened.
"Did master send for me? You've risen from a rag shop, my man!"
interrupts the physician.
"Master there-sorry to see him sick-owns me." Harry cast a subdued
look on the bed where lay his late purchaser.
Harry's appearance is not the most prepossessing,--he might have been
taken for anything else but a minister of the gospel; though the
quick eye of the southerner readily detected those frank and manly
features which belong to a class of very dark men who exhibit
uncommon natural genius.
At the sound of Harry's voice, M'Fadden makes an effort to raise
himself on his elbow. The loss of blood has so reduced his physical
power that his effort is unsuccessful. He sinks back,
prostrate,--requests the physician to assist him in turning over. He
will face his preacher. Putting out his hand, he embraces him
cordially,--motions him to be seated.
The black preacher, that article of men merchandise, takes a seat at
the bed-side, while the man of medicine withdraws to the table. The
summons is as acceptable to Harry as it is strange to the physician,
who has never before witnessed so strange a scene of familiarity
between slave and master. All is silent for several minutes. Harry
looks at his master, as if questioning the motive for which he is
summoned into his presence; and still he can read the deep anxiety
playing upon M'Fadden's distorted countenance. At length, Harry,
feeling that his presence may be intrusive, breaks the silence by
enquiring if there is anything he can do for master. Mr. M'Fadden
whispers something, lays his trembling hand on Harry's, casts a
meaning glance at the physician, and seems to swoon. Returning to
his bed-side, the physician lays his hand upon the sick man's brow;
he will ascertain the state of his system.
"Give-him-his-Bible," mutters the wounded man, pointing languidly to
the table. "Give it to him that he may ask God's blessing for me-for
The doctor obeys his commands, and the wretch, heart bounding with
joy, receives back his inspiring companion. It is dear to him, and
with a smile of gratitude invading his countenance he returns
thanks. There is pleasure in that little book. "And now, Harry, my
boy," says M'Fadden, raising his hand to Harry's shoulder, and
looking imploringly in his face as he regains strength; "forgive
what I have done. I took from you that which was most dear to your
feelings; I took it from you when the wounds of your heart were
gushing with grief-" He makes an effort to say more, but his voice
fails; he will wait a few moments.
The kind words touch Harry's feelings; tears glistening in his eyes
tell how he struggles to suppress the emotions of his heart. "Did
you mean my wife and children, master?" he enquires.
M'Fadden, somewhat regaining strength, replies in the affirmative.
He acknowledges to have seen that the thing "warn't just right." His
imagination has been wandering through the regions of heaven, where,
he is fully satisfied, there is no objection to a black face. God
has made a great opening in his eyes and heart just now. He sees and
believes such things as he neither saw nor believed before; they
pass like clouds before his eyes, never, never to be erased from his
memory. Never before has he thought much about repentance; but now
that he sees heaven on one side and hell on the other, all that once
seemed right in bartering and selling the bodies and souls of men,
vanishes. There, high above all, is the vengeance of heaven written
in letters of blood, execrating such acts, and pointing to the
retribution. It is a burning consciousness of all the suffering he
has inflicted upon his negroes. Death, awful monitor! stares him in
the face; it holds the stern realities of truth and justice before
him; it tells him of the wrong,--points him to the right. The
unbending mandates of slave law, giving to man power to debase
himself with crimes the judicious dare not punish, are being
consumed before Omnipotence, the warning voice of which is calling
him to his last account.
And now the wounded man is all condescension, hoping forgiveness!
His spirit has yielded to Almighty power; he no longer craves for
property in man; no, his coarse voice is subdued into softest
accents. He whispers "coloured man," as if the merchandise changed
as his thoughts are brought in contact with revelations of the
"Take the Bible, my good boy-take it, read it to me, before I die.
Read it, that it may convert my soul. If I have neglected myself on
earth, forgive me; receive my repentance, and let me be saved from
eternal misery. Read, my dear good boy,"-M'Fadden grasps his hand
tighter and tighter-"and let your voice be a warning to those who
never look beyond earth and earth's enjoyments." The physician
thinks his patient will get along until morning, and giving
directions to the attendants, leaves him.
Harry has recovered from the surprise which so sudden a change of
circumstances produced, and has drawn from the patient the cause of
his suffering. He opens the restored Bible, and reads from it, to
Mr. M'Fadden's satisfaction. He reads from Job; the words producing
a deep effect upon the patient's mind.
The wretched preacher, whose white soul is concealed beneath black
skin, has finished his reading. He will now address himself to his
master, in the following simple manner.
"Master, it is one thing to die, and another to die happy. It is one
thing to be prepared to die, another to forget that we have to die,
to leave the world and its nothingness behind us. But you are not
going to die, not now. Master, the Lord will forgive you if you,
make your repentance durable. 'Tis only the fear of death that has
produced the change on your mind. Do, master! learn the Lord; be
just to we poor creatures, for the Lord now tells you it is not
right to buy and sell us."
"Buy and sell you!" interrupts the frightened man, making an effort
to rise from his pillow; "that I never will, man nor woman. If God
spares my life, my people shall be liberated; I feel different on
that subject, now! The difference between the commerce of this world
and the glory of heaven brightens before me. I was an ignorant man
on all religious matters; I only wanted to be set right in the way
of the Lord,--that's all." Again he draws his face under the sheet,
writhing with the pain of his wound.
"I wish everybody could see us as master does, about this time; for
surely God can touch the heart of the most hardened. But master
ain't going to die so soon as he thinks," mutters Harry, wiping the
sweat from his face, as he lays his left hand softly upon master's
arm. "God guide us in all coming time, and make us forget the
retribution that awaits our sins!" he concludes, with a smile
glowing on his countenance.
The half spoken words catch upon the patient's ear. He starts
suddenly from his pillow, as if eager to receive some favourable
intelligence. "Don't you think my case dangerous, my boy? Do you
know how deep is the wound?" he enquires, his glassy eyes staring
intently at Harry.
"It is all the same, master!" is the reply.
"Give me your hand again"-M'Fadden grasps his hand and seems to
revive-"pray for me now; your prayers will be received into heaven,
they will serve me there!"
"Ah, master," says Harry, kindly, interrupting him at this juncture,
"I feel more than ever like a christian. It does my heart good to
hear you talk so true, so kind. How different from yesterday! then I
was a poor slave, forced from my children, with nobody to speak a
kind word for me; everybody to reckon me as a good piece of property
only. I forgive you, master-I forgive you; God is a loving God, and
will forgive you also." The sick man is consoled; and, while his
preacher kneels at his bed-side, offering up a prayer imploring
forgiveness, he listens to the words as they fall like cooling drops
on his burning soul. The earnestness--the fervency and pathos of the
words, as they gush forth from the lips of a wretch, produce a still
deeper effect upon the wounded man. Nay, there is even a chord
loosened in his heart; he sobs audibly. "Live on earth so as to be
prepared for heaven; that when death knocks at the door you may
receive him as a welcome guest. But, master! you cannot meet our
Father in heaven while the sin of selling men clings to your
garments. Let your hair grow grey with justice, and God will reward
you," he concludes.
"True, Harry; true!"--he lays his hand on the black man's shoulder, is
about to rise--"it is the truth plainly told, and nothing more." He
will have a glass of water to quench his thirst; Harry must bring it
to him, for there is consolation in his touch. Seized with another
pain, he grasps with his left hand the arm of his consoler, works
his fingers through his matted hair, breathes violently, contorts
his face haggardly, as if suffering acutely. Harry waits till the
spasm has subsided, then calls an attendant to watch the patient
while he goes to the well. This done he proceeds into the kitchen to
enquire for a vessel. Having entered that department as the clock
strikes two, he finds Ellen busily engaged preparing food for Mr.
M'Fadden's property, which is yet fast secured in the pen. Feeling
himself a little more at liberty to move about unrestrained, he
procures a vessel, fills it at the well, carries it to his master's
bed-side, sees him comfortably cared for, and returns to the
kitchen, where he will assist Ellen in her mission of goodness.
The little pen is situated a few yards from the tavern, on the edge
of a clump of tall pines.
Ellen has got ready the corn and bacon, and with Harry she proceeds
to the pen, where the property are still enjoying that inestimable
boon,--a deep sleep.
"Always sleeping," he says, waking them one by one at the
announcement of corn and bacon. "Start up and get something good my
girl has prepared for you." He shakes them, while Ellen holds the
lantern. There is something piercing in the summons-meats are strong
arguments with the slave-they start from their slumbers, seize upon
the food, and swallow it with great relish. Harry and Ellen stand
smiling over the gusto with which they swallow their coarse meal.
"You must be good boys to-night. Old master's sick; flat down on e'
back, and 'spects he's going to die, he does." Harry shakes his head
as he tells it to the astonished merchandise. "Had a great time at
the crossing to-day; killed two or three certain, and almost put
master on the plank."
"'Twarn't no matter, nohow: nobody lose nofin if old Boss do die:
nigger on e' plantation don' put e' hat in mournin'," mutters the
negro woman, with an air of hatred. She has eaten her share of the
meal, shrugs her shoulders, and again stretches her valuable body on
"Uncle Sparton know'd old Boss warn't gwine t' be whar de debil
couldn't cotch 'em, so long as 'e tink. If dat old mas'r debil, what
white man talk 'bout so much, don' gib 'em big roasting win 'e git
'e dah, better hab no place wid fireins fo' such folks," speaks up
old Uncle Sparton, one of the negroes, whose face shines like a
"Neber mind dat, Uncle Sparton; 'taint what ye say 'bout he. Ven
mas'r debil cotch old Boss 'e don't cotch no fool. Mas'r debil down
yander find old Boss too tuf fo' he business; he jus' like old hoss
what neber die," rejoins another.
In a word, M'Fadden had told his negroes what a great democrat he
was-how he loved freedom and a free country-until their ideas of
freedom became strangely mystified; and they ventured to assert that
he would not find so free a country when the devil became his
keeper. "Mas'r tink 'e carry 'e plantation t' t'oder world wid him,
reckon," Uncle Sparton grumblingly concludes, joining the motley
conclave of property about to resume its repose.
Ellen returns to the house. Harry will remain, and have a few words
more with the boys. A few minutes pass, and Ellen returns with an
armful of blankets, with which she covers the people carefully and
kindly. How full of goodness-how touching is the act! She has done
her part, and she returns to the house in advance of Harry, who
stops to take a parting good-night, and whisper a word of
consolation in their ears. He looks upon them as dear brothers in
distress, objects for whom he has a fellow sympathy. He leaves them
for the night; closes the door after him; locks it. He will return
to Ellen, and enjoy a mutual exchange of feeling.
Scarcely has he left the door, when three persons, disguised, rush
upon him, muffle his head with a blanket, bind his hands and feet,
throw him bodily into a waggon, and drive away at a rapid speed.
COMPETITION IN HUMAN THINGS.
IT is enough to inform the reader that Romescos and Mr. M'Fadden
were not only rival bidders for this very desirable piece of
preaching property, but, being near neighbours, had become
inveterate enemies and fierce political opponents. The former, a
reckless trader in men, women, and children, was a daring,
unprincipled, and revengeful man, whose occupation seldom called him
to his plantation; while the latter was notorious as a hard master
and a cruel tyrant, who exacted a larger amount of labour from his
negroes than his fellow planters, and gave them less to eat. His
opinion was, that a peck of corn a week was quite enough for a
negro; and this was his systematic allowance;--but he otherwise