Part 7 out of 12
tempted the appetites of his property, by driving them, famished, to
the utmost verge of necessity. Thus driven to predatory acts in
order to sustain life, the advantages offered by Romescos'
swamp-generally well sprinkled with swine-were readily appropriated
to a very good use.
Under covert of Romescos' absence, Mr. M'Fadden had no very
scrupulous objection to his negroes foraging the amply provided
swamp,--provided, however, they did the thing on the sly, were
careful whose porker they dispatched, and said nothing to him about
the eating. In fact, it was simply a matter of economy with Mr.
M'Fadden; and as Romescos had a great number of the obstinate
brutes, it saved the trouble of raising such undignified stock.
Finding, however, that neighbour M'Fadden, or his predatory
negroes-such they were called-were laying claim to more than a
generous share of their porkships, Romescos thought it high time to
put the thing down by a summary process. But what particularly
"riled" Romescos in this affair of the hogs was, that M'Fadden's
negroes were not content with catching them in an honourable way,
but would do it through the agency of nasty cur-dogs, which he
always had despised, and held as unfit even to hunt niggers with.
Several times had he expressed his willingness to permit a small
number of his grunters to be captured for the benefit of his
neighbour's half-starved negroes, provided, always, they were hunted
with honourable hound-dogs. He held such animals in high esteem,
while curs he looked upon with utter contempt; he likened the one to
the chivalrous old rice-planter, the other to a pettifogging
schoolmaster fit for nothing but to be despised and shot. With these
feelings he (Romescos) declared his intention to kill the very first
negro he caught in his swamp with cur-dogs; and he kept his word.
Lying in ambush, he would await their approach, and, when most
engaged in appropriating the porkers, rush from his hiding-place,
shoot the dogs, and then take a turn at the more exhilarating
business of shooting the negroes. He would, with all possible
calmness, command the frightened property to approach and partake of
his peculiar mixture, administered from his double-barrel gun.
That the reader may better understand Romescos' process of curing
this malady of his neighbour's negroes, we will give it as related
by himself. It is a curious mode of dispatching negro property; the
reader, however, cannot fail to comprehend it. "Plantin' didn't suit
my notions o' gittin' rich, ye see, so I spec'lates in nigger
property, and makes a better thing on't. But there's philosophy
about the thing, and a body's got t' know the hang on't afore he can
twist it out profitably; so I keeps a sort of a plantation just to
make a swell; cos ye got to make a splash to be anybody down south.
Can't be a gentleman, ye see, 'cept ye plants cotton and rice; and
then a feller what's got a plantation in this kind of a way can be a
gentleman, and do so many other bits of trade to advantage. The
thing works like the handle of a pump; and then it makes a right
good place for raising young niggers, and gettin' old uns trimmed
up. With me, the worst thing is that old screwdriver, M'Fadden, what
don't care no more for the wear and tear of a nigger than nothin',
and drives 'em like as many steam-engines he thinks he can keep
going by feeding on saw-dust. He han't no conception o' nigger
constitution, and is just the worst sort of a chap that ever cum
south to get a fortune. Why, look right at his niggers: they look
like crows after corn-shuckin. Don't give 'em no meat, and the
critters must steal somethin' t' keep out o' the bone-yard. Well, I
argers the case with Mack, tells him how t'll be atween he and me on
this thing, and warns him that if he don't chunk more corn and
grease into his niggers, there 'll be a ruptous fuss. But he don't
stand on honour, as I does, especially when his property makes a
haul on my swamp of shoats. I an't home often; so the hogs suffer;
and Mack's niggers get the pork. This 'ere kind o'
business"--Romescos maintains the serious dignity of himself the
while--"don't go down nohow with me; so Mack and me just has a bit
of a good-natured quarrel; and from that we gets at daggers' points,
and I swears how I'll kill the first nigger o' his'n what steals
hogs o' mine. Wouldn't a cared a sous, mark ye, but it cum crossways
on a feller's feelins to think how the 'tarnal niggers had no more
sense than t' hunt hogs o' mine with cur-dogs: bin hounds,
honourable dogs, or respectable dogs what 'll do to hunt niggers
with, wouldn't a cared a toss about it; but-when-I-hears-a cur-dog
yelp, oh! hang me if it don't set my sensations all on pins, just as
somethin' was crucifyin' a feller. I warns and talks, and then
pleads like a lawyer what's got a bad case; but all to no end o'
reformin' Mack's morals,--feller han't got no sense o' reform in him.
So I sets my niggers on the scent-it gives 'em some fun-and swears
I'll kill a nigger for every hog he steals. This I concludes on; and
I never backs out when once I fixes a conclusion.
"Hears the infernal cur-dog's yelp, yelp, yelp, down in the swamp;
then I creeps through the jungle so sly, lays low till the fellers
cum up, all jumpin'-pig ahead, then dogs, niggers follerin', puffin'
and blowin', eyes poppin' out, 'most out o' breath, just as if they
tasted the sparerib afore they'd got the critter.
"Well, ye see, I know'd all the ins and outs of the law,--keeps
mighty shy about all the judicial quibbles on't,--never takes nobody
with me whose swearin' would stand muster in a court of law. All
right on that score (Romescos exults in his law proficiency). I
makes sure o' the dogs fust, ollers keepin' the double-barrel on the
right eye for the best nigger in the lot. It would make the
longest-faced deacon in the district laugh to see the fire flash out
o' the nigger's big black eyes, when he sees the cur drop, knowin'
how he'll get the next plugs souced into him. It's only natural, cos
it would frighten a feller what warn't used to it just to see what a
thunder-cloud of agitation the nigger screws his black face into.
And then he starts to run, and puts it like streaks o' cannon-balls
chased by express lightnin'.
"'Stand still, ye thievin' varmint! hold up,--bring to a mooring:
take the mixture according to Gunter!' I shouts. The way the nigger
pulls up, begs, pleads, and says things what'll touch a feller's
tender feelins, aint no small kind of an institution. 'Twould just
make a man what had stretchy conscience think there was somethin'
crooked somewhere. 'Well, boys,' says I, feeling a little soft about
the stomach, 'seeing how it's yer Boss what don't feed ye, I'll be
kind o' good, and give ye a dose of the mixture in an honourable
way.' Then I loads t'other barrel, the feller's eyes flashin'
streaks of blue lightnin' all the time, lookin' at how I rams it
down, chunk! 'Now, boys,' says I, when the plugs
shot is all ready, 'there's system 'bout this ere thing a'
mine--t'aint killin' ye I wants,--don't care a copper about that
(there an't no music in that), but must make it bring the finances
out a' yer master's pocket. That's the place where he keeps all his
morals. Now, run twenty paces and I'll gin ye a fair chance! The
nigger understands me, ye see, and moves off, as if he expected a
thunderbolt at his heel, lookin' back and whining like a puppy
what's lost his mother. Just when he gets to an honourable
distance,--say twenty paces, according to fighting rule,--I draws up,
takes aim, and plumps the plugs into him. The way the critter jumps
reminds me of a circus rider vaultin' and turnin' sumersets. You'd
think he was inginrubber 'lectrified. A'ter all, I finds these
playin' doses don't do; they don't settle things on the square. So I
tries a little stronger mixture, which ends in killin' three o'
Mack's niggers right up smooth. But the best on't is that Mack finds
he han't no proof, goes right into it and kills three o' my prime
fat niggers: that makes us bad friends on every score. But he got a
nigger ahead o' me a'ter awhile, and I ware detarmined to straighten
accounts, if it was by stealin' the odds. Them ar's my principles,
and that's just the way I settles accounts with folks what don't do
the square thing in the way o' nigger property."
Thus the two gentlemen lived in the terror of internal war; and
Romescos, seeing such a fine piece of property pass into the hands
of his antagonist, resolved on squaring accounts by stealing the
preacher,--an act Mr. M'Fadden least expected.
The candidates' festival offered every facility for carrying this
singular coup-d'état into effect. Hence, with the skilful assistance
of Nath. Nimrod, and Dan Bengal, Harry was very precipitately and
dexterously passed over to the chances of a new phase of slave life.
Ellen waited patiently for Harry's return until it became evident
some ill-luck had befallen him. Lantern in hand, she proceeds to the
pen in search. No Harry is to be found there; Mr. M'Fadden's common
negroes only are there, and they sleep sweetly and soundly. What can
have befallen him? She conjectures many things, none of which are
the right. The lock is upon the door; all is still outside; no
traces of kidnapping can be found. She knows his faithfulness,--
knows he would not desert his master unless some foul means had been
used to decoy him into trouble. She returns to the house and
acquaints her master.
Straggling members, who had met to enjoy the generous political
banquet, and who still remain to see the night "through" with
appropriate honour, are apprised of the sudden disappearance of this
very valuable piece of property. They are ready for any turn of
excitement,--anything for "topping off" with a little amusement; and
to this end they immediately gather round mine host in a party of
pursuit. Romescos-he must make his innocence more imposing-has been
conspicuous during the night, at times expressing sympathy for Mr.
M'Fadden, and again assuring the company that he has known fifty
worse cases cured. In order to make this better understood, he will
pay the doctor's bill if M'Fadden dies. Mine host has no sooner
given the alarm than Romescos expresses superlative surprise. He was
standing in the centre of a conclave of men, whom he harangues on
the particular political points necessary for the candidates to
support in order to maintain the honour of the State; now he listens
to mine host as he recounts the strange absence of the preacher,
pauses and combs his long red beard with his fingers, looks
distrustfully, and then says, with a quaintness that disarmed
suspicion, "Nigger-like!-preacher or angel, nigger will be nigger!
The idea o' makin' the black rascals preachers, thinkin' they won't
run away! Now, fellers, that ar' chap's skulkin' about, not far off,
out among the pines; and here's my two dogs"-he points to his dogs,
stretched on the floor-"what'll scent him and bring him out afore
ten minutes! Don't say a word to Mack about it; don't let it 'scape
yer fly-trap, cos they say he's got a notion o' dying, and suddenly
changed his feelins 'bout nigger tradin'. There's no tellin' how it
would affect the old democrat if he felt he warnt goin' to slip his
breeze. This child"-Romescos refers to himself-"felt just as Mack
does more nor a dozen times, when Davy Jones looked as if he was
making slight advances: a feller soon gets straight again,
nevertheless. It's only the difference atween one's feelings about
makin' money when he's well, and thinkin' how he made it when he's
about to bid his friends good morning and leave town for awhile.
Anyhow, there aint no dodging now, fellers! We got to hunt up the
nigger afore daylight, so let us take a drop more and be moving." He
orders the landlord to set on the decanters,--they join in a social
glass, touch glasses to the recovery of the nigger, and then rush
out to the pursuit. Romescos heads the party. With dogs, horses,
guns, and all sorts of negro-hunting apparatus, they scour the
pinegrove, the swamp, and the heather. They make the pursuit of man
full of interest to those who are fond of the chase; they allow
their enthusiasm to bound in unison with the sharp baying of the
For more than two hours is this exhilarating sport kept up. It is
sweet music to their ears; they have been trained (educated) to the
fascination of a man-hunt, and dogs and men become wearied with the
Romescos declares the nigger is near at hand: he sees the dogs curl
down their noses; he must be somewhere in a hole or jungle of the
swamp, and, with more daylight and another dog or two, his
apprehension is certain. He makes a halt on the brow of a hill, and
addresses his fellow-hunters from the saddle. In his wisdom on
nigger nature he will advise a return to the tavern-for it is now
daylight-where they will spend another hour merrily, and then return
brightened to the pursuit. Acting on this advice, friends and
foes-both join as good fellows in the chase for a nigger-followed
his retreat as they had his advance.
"No nigger preacher just about this circle, Major!" exclaims
Romescos, addressing mine host, as he puts his head into the
bar-room, on his return. "Feller's burrowed somewhere, like a coon:
catch him on the broad end of morning, or I'll hang up my old
double-barrel," he concludes, shaking his head, and ordering drink
for the party at his expense.
The morning advanced, however, and nothing was to be seen of
Romescos: he vanished as suddenly from among them as Harry had from
the pen. Some little surprise is expressed by the knowing ones; they
whisper among themselves, while mine host reaches over the counter,
cants his head solicitously, and says:--"What's that, gentlemen?"
In this dilemma they cannot inform mine host; they must continue the
useless chase without Romescos' valuable services. And here we must
leave mine host preparing further necessaries for capturing the lost
property, that he may restore it to its owner so soon as he shall
become convalescent, and turn to Harry.
Like a well-stowed bale of merchandise, to be delivered at a stated
place within a specified time, he was rolled in bagging, and not
permitted to see the direction in which he was being driven. When
the pursuing party started from the crossing, Romescos took the lead
in order to draw it in an opposite direction, and keep the dogs from
the trail. This would allow the stolen clergyman to get beyond their
reach. When daylight broke upon the capturers they were nearly
twenty miles beyond the reach of the pursuers, approaching an inn by
the road side. The waggon suddenly stopped, and Harry found himself
being unrolled from his winding sheet by the hands of two strangers.
Lifting him to his feet, they took him from the waggon, loosed the
chains from his legs, led him into the house, and placed him in a
dark back room. Here, his head being uncovered, he looks upon his
captors with an air of confusion and distrust. "Ye know me too, I
reckon, old feller, don't ye?" enquires one of the men, with a
sardonic grin, as he lifts his hat with his left hand, and scratches
his head with his right.
"Yes, mas'r; there's no mistakin on ye!" returns Harry, shaking his
head, as they release the chains from his hands. He at length
recognises the familiar faces of Dan Bengal and Nath. Nimrod. Both
have figured about Marston's plantation, in the purchase and sale of
"Ye had a jolly good ride, old feller, had'nt ye?" says Bengal,
exultingly, looking Harry in the face, shrugging his shoulders, and
putting out his hand to make his friendship.
Harry has no reply to make; but rubs his face as if he is not quite
satisfied with his new apartment, and wants to know a little more of
the motive of the expedition. "Mas'r! I don't seem to know myself,
nor nothin'. Please tell me where I am going to, and who is to be my
master? It will relieve my double troubles," he says, casting an
enquiring look at Nimrod.
"Shook up yer parson-thinkin' some, I reckon, did'nt it, old chap?"
returns Nimrod, laughing heartily, but making no further reply. He
thinks it was very much like riding in a railroad backwards.
"Did my sick mas'r sell me to you?" again he enquires.
"No business o' yourn, that ain't; yer nigger-knowin ought to tell
you how ye'd got into safe hands. We'll push along down south as
soon as ye gets some feed. Put on a straight face, and face the
music like a clever deacon, and we'll do the square in selling ye to
a Boss what 'll let ye preach now and then. (Nimrod becomes very
affectionate). Do the thing up righteous, and when yer sold there
'll be a five-dollar shiner for yerself. (He pats him on the head,
and puts his arm over his shoulder.) Best t' have a little shot in a
body's own pocket; now, shut up yer black bread-trap, and don't go
makin a fuss about where yer goin' to: that's my business!"
Harry pauses as if in contemplation; he is struggling against his
indignation excited by such remarks. He knew his old master's
weaknesses, enjoyed his indulgences; but he had never been made to
feel so acutely how degraded he could be as a mere article of trade.
It would have been some consolation to know which way he was
proceeding, and why he had been so suddenly snatched from his new
owner. Fate had not ordained this for him; oh no! He must resign
himself without making any further enquiries; he must be nothing
more than a nigger--happy nigger happily subdued! Seating himself
upon the floor, in a recumbent position, he drops his face on his
knees,--is humbled among the humblest. He is left alone for some
time, while his captors, retiring into an adjoining room, hold a
Breakfast is being prepared, and much conversation is kept up in an
inaudible tone of voice. Harry has an instinctive knowledge that it
is about him, for he hears the words, "Peter! Peter!" his name must
be transmogrified into "Peter!" In another minute he hears dishes
rattling on the table, and Bengal distinctly complimenting the
adjuncts, as he orders some for the nigger preacher. This excites
his anxiety; he feels like placing his ear at the keyhole,--doing a
little evesdropping. He is happily disappointed, however, for the
door opens, and a black boy bearing a dish of homony enters, and,
placing it before him, begs that he will help himself. Harry takes
the plate and sets it beside him, as the strange boy watches him
with an air of commiseration that enlists his confidence. "Ain't
da'h somefin mo' dat I can bring ye?" enquires the boy, pausing for
Harry will venture to make some enquiries about the locality. "Do
you belong to master what live here?" He puts out his hand, takes
the other by the arm.
"Hard tellin who I belongs to. Buckra man own 'em to-day; ain't
sartin if he own 'em to-morrow, dough. What country-born nigger is
"Down country! My poor old master's gone, and now I'm goin'; but God
only knows where to. White man sell all old Boss's folks in a
string,--my old woman and children among the rest. My heart is with
them, God bless them!"
"Reckon how ya' had a right good old Boss what larn ye somethin."
The boy listens to Harry with surprise. "Don't talk like dat down
dis a way; no country-born nigger put in larn'd wods so, nohow,"
returns the boy, with a look of curious admiration.
"But you harn't told me what place this is?"
"Dis 'ouse! e' ant nowhare when Buckra bring nigger what he want to
sell, and don' want nobody to know whar e' bring him from. Dat man
what bring ye here be great Buckra. De 'h way he lash nigger whin e'
don do jist so!" The boy shakes his head with a warning air.
"How did you get here? There must be roads leading in some
"Roads runnin' every which way, yand'r; and trou de woods anyway,
but mighty hard tellin whar he going to, he is. Mas'r Boss don lef
'e nigger know how 'e bring'um, nor how he takes 'um way. Guess da
'h gwine to run ye down country, so God bless you," says the boy,
shaking him by the hand, and taking leave.
"Well! if I only knew which way I was going I should feel happy;
because I could then write to my old master, somewhere or somehow.
And I know my good friend Missus Rosebrook will buy me for her
plantation,--I know she will. She knows my feelings, and in her heart
wouldn't see me abused, she wouldn't! I wish I knew who my master
is, where I am, and to whom I'm going to be sold next. I think new
master has stolen me, thinking old master was going to die," Harry
mutters to himself, commencing his breakfast, but still applying his
listening faculties to the conversation in the next room. At length,
after a long pause, they seem to have finished breakfast and taken
up the further consideration of his sale.
"I don't fear anything of the kind! Romescos is just the keenest
fellow that can be scared up this side of Baltimore. He never takes
a thing o' this stamp in hand but what he puts it through," says
Bengal, in a whispering tone.
"True! the trouble's in his infernal preaching; that's the devil of
niggers having intelligence. Can do anything in our way with common
niggers what don't know nothin'; but when the critters can do
clergy, and preach, they'll be sending notes to somebody they know
as acquaintances. An intelligent nigger's a bad article when ye want
to play off in this way," replies the other, curtly.
"Never mind," returns Bengal, "can't ollers transpose a nigger, as
easy as turnin' over a sixpence, specially when he don't have his
ideas brightened. Can't steer clar on't. Larnin's mighty dangerous
to our business, Nath.-better knock him on the head at once; better
end him and save a sight of trouble. It'll put a stopper on his
preaching, this pesks exercisin' his ideas."
A third interrupts. "Thinks such a set of chicken-hearted fellows
won't do when it comes to cases of 'mergency like this. He will just
make clergyman Peter Somebody the deacon; and with this honorary
title he'll put him through to Major Wiley's plantation, when he'll
be all right down in old Mississippi. The Colonel and he,
understanding the thing, can settle it just as smooth as sunrise.
The curate is what we call a right clever fellow, would make the
tallest kind of a preacher, and pay first-rate per centage on
himself." Bengal refers to Harry. His remarks are, indeed, quite
applicable. "I've got the dockerment, ye see, all prepared; and
we'll put him through without a wink," he concludes, in a measured
tone of voice.
The door of Harry's room opens, and the three enter together. "Had a
good breakfast, old feller, hain't ye?" says Nimrod, approaching
with hand extended, and patting him on the head with a child's
playfulness. "I kind o' likes the looks on ye" (a congratulatory
smile curls over his countenance), "old feller; and means to do the
square thing in the way o' gettin' on ye a good Boss. Put on the
Lazarus, and no nigger tricks on the road. I'm sorry to leave ye on
the excursion, but here's the gentleman what'll see ye through,--will
put ye through to old Mississip just as safe as if ye were a nugget
of gold." Nimrod introduces Harry to a short gentleman with a bald
head, and very smooth, red face. His dress is of brown homespun, a
garb which would seem peculiar to those who do the villainy of the
peculiar institution. The gentleman has a pair of handcuffs in his
left hand, with which he will make his pious merchandise safe.
Stepping forward, he places the forefinger of his right hand on the
preacher's forehead, and reads him a lesson which he must get firm
into his thinking shell. It is this. "Now, at this very time, yer
any kind of a nigger; but a'ter this ar' ye got to be a Tennessee
nigger, raised in a pious Tennessee family. And yer name is
Peter-Peter-Peter!-don't forget the Peter: yer a parson, and ought
t' keep the old apostle what preached in the marketplace in yer
noddle. Peter, ye see, is a pious name, and Harry isn't; so ye must
think Peter and sink Harry."
"What do I want to change my name for? Old master give me that name
long time ago!"
"None o' yer business; niggers ain't t' know the philosophy of such
things. No nigger tricks, now!" interrupts Bengal, quickly, drawing
his face into savage contortions. At this the gentleman in whose
charge he will proceed steps forward and places the manacles on
Harry's hands with the coolness and indifference of one executing
the commonest branch of his profession. Thus packed and baled for
export, he is hurried from the house into a two-horse waggon, and
driven off at full speed. Bengal watches the waggon as it rolls down
the highway and is lost in the distance. He laughs heartily, thinks
how safe he has got the preacher, and how much hard cash he will
bring. God speed the slave on his journey downward, we might add.
It will be needless for us to trace them through the many incidents
of their journey; our purpose will be served when we state that his
new guardian landed him safely at the plantation of Major Wiley, on
the Tallahatchee River, Mississippi, on the evening of the fourth
day after their departure, having made a portion of their passage on
the steamer Ohio. By some process unknown to Harry he finds himself
duly ingratiated among the major's field hands, as nothing more than
plain Peter. He is far from the high-road, far from his friends,
without any prospect of communicating with his old master. The
major, in his way, seems a well-disposed sort of man, inclined to
"do right" by his negroes, and willing to afford them an opportunity
of employing their time after task, for their own benefit. And yet
it is evident that he must in some way be connected with Graspum and
his party, for there is a continual interchange of negroes to and
from his plantation. This, however, we must not analyse too closely,
but leave to the reader's own conjectures, inasmuch as Major Wiley
is a very distinguished gentleman, and confidently expects a very
prominent diplomatic appointment under the next administration.
Harry, in a very quiet way, sets himself about gaining a knowledge
of his master's opinions on religion, as well as obtaining his
confidence by strict fidelity to his interests. So far does he
succeed, that in a short time he finds himself holding the
respectable and confidential office of master of stores. Then he
succeeds in inducing his master to hear him preach a sermon to his
negroes. The major is perfectly willing to allow him the full
exercise of his talents, and is moved to admiration at his fervency,
his aptitude, his knowledge of the Bible, and the worth there must
be in such a piece of clergy property. Master Wiley makes his man
the offer of purchasing his time, which Harry, under the alias of
Peter, accepts, and commences his mission of preaching on the
Ardently and devoutedly does he pursue his mission of Christianity
among his fellow-bondmen; but he has reaped little of the harvest
to himself, his master having so increased the demand for his time
that he can scarcely save money enough to purchase clothes. At first
he was only required to pay six dollars a week; now, nothing less
than ten is received. It is a happy premium on profitable human
nature; and through it swings the strongest hinge of that cursed
institution which blasts alike master and slave. Major Wiley is very
chivalrous, very hospitable, and very eminent for his many
distinguished qualifications; but his very pious piece of property
must pay forty-seven per cent. annual tribute for the very
hospitable privilege of administering the Word of God to his brother
bondmen. Speak not of robed bishops robbing Christianity in a
foreign land, ye men who deal in men, and would rob nature of its
tombstone! Ye would rob the angels did their garments give forth
The poor fellow's income, depending, in some measure, upon small
presents bestowed by the negroes to whom he preached, was scarcely
enough to bring him out at the end of the week, and to be thus
deprived of it seemed more than his spirits could bear. Again and
again had he appealed to his master for justice; but there was no
justice for him,--his appeals proved as fruitless as the wind, on his
master's callous sensibilities. Instead of exciting compassion, he
only drew upon him his master's prejudices; he was threatened with
being sold, if he resisted for a day the payment of wages for his
own body. Hence he saw but one alternative left-one hope, one smile
from a good woman, who might, and he felt would, deliver him; that
was in writing to his good friend, Mrs. Rosebrook, whose generous
heart he might touch through his appeals for mercy. And yet there
was another obstacle; the post-office might be ten miles off, and
his master having compelled him to take the name of Peter Wiley, how
was he to get a letter to her without the knowledge of his master?
Should his letter be intercepted, his master, a strict
disciplinarian, would not only sell him farther south, but inflict
the severest punishment. Nevertheless, there was one consolation
left; his exertions on behalf of the slaves, and his earnestness in
promoting the interests of their masters, had not passed unnoticed
with the daughter of a neighbouring planter (this lady has since
distinguished herself for sympathy with the slave), who became much
interested in his welfare. She had listened to his exhortations with
admiration; she had listened to his advice on religion, and become
his friend and confidant. She would invite him to her father's
house, sit for hours at his side, and listen with breathless
attention to his pathos, his display of natural genius. To her he
unfolded his deep and painful troubles; to her he looked for
consolation; she was the angel of light guiding him on his weary
way, cheering his drooping soul on its journey to heaven. To her he
disclosed how he had been called to the bedside of his dying master;
how, previously, he had been sold from his good old master, Marston,
his wife, his children; how he was mysteriously carried off and left
in the charge of his present master, who exacts all he can earn.
The simple recital of his story excites the genial feelings of the
young lady; she knows some foul transaction is associated with his
transition, and at once tenders her services to release him. But she
must move cautiously, for even Harry's preaching is in direct
violation of the statutes; and were she found aiding in that which
would unfavourably affect the interests of his master she would be
subjected to serious consequences-perhaps be invited to spend a
short season at the sheriff's hotel, commonly called the county
gaol. However, there was virtue in the object to be served, and
feeling that whatever else she could do to relieve him would be
conferring a lasting benefit on a suffering mortal, she will brave
"Tell me he is not a man, but a slave! tell me a being with such
faculties should be thus sunken beneath the amenities of freedom!
that man may barter almighty gifts for gold! trample his religion
into dust, and turn it into dollars and cents! What a mockery is
this against the justice of heaven! When this is done in this our
happy land of happy freedom, scoffers may make it their foot-ball,
and kings in their tyranny may point the finger of scorn at us, and
ask us for our honest men, our cherished freedom!
"Woman can do something, if she will; let me see what I can do to
relieve this poor oppressed," she exclaims one day, after he has
consulted her on the best means of relief. "I will try."
Woman knows the beatings of the heart; she can respond more quickly
to its pains and sorrows. Our youthful missionary will sit down and
write a letter to Mrs. Rosebrook-she will do something, the
atmosphere of slavery will hear of her yet-it will!
THE PRETTY CHILDREN ARE TO BE SOLD.
HOW varied are the sources of human nature-how changing its tints
and glows-how immeasurable its uncertainties, and how obdurate the
will that can turn its tenderest threads into profitable
degradation! But what democrat can know himself a freeman when the
whitest blood makes good merchandise in the market? When the only
lineal stain on a mother's name for ever binds the chains, let no
man boast of liberty. The very voice re-echoes, oh, man, why be a
hypocrite! cans't thou not see the scorner looking from above? But
the oligarchy asks in tones so modest, so full of chivalrous
fascination, what hast thou to do with that? be no longer a fanatic.
So we will bear the warning-pass from it for the present.
More than two years have passed; writs of error have been filed and
argued; the children have dragged out time in a prison-house. Is it
in freedom's land a prison was made for the innocent to waste in? So
it is, and may Heaven one day change the tenour! Excuse, reader,
this digression, and let us proceed with our narrative.
The morning is clear and bright; Mrs. Rosebrook sits at the window
of her cheerful villa, watching the approach of the post-rider seen
in the distance, near a cluster of oaks that surround the entrance
of the arbour, at the north side of the garden. The scene spread out
before her is full of rural beauty, softened by the dew-decked
foliage, clothing the landscape with its clumps. As if some fairy
hand had spread a crystal mist about the calm of morning, and angels
were bedecking it with the richest tints of a rising sun at morn,
the picture sparkles with silvery life. There she sits, her soft
glowing eyes scanning the reposing scene, as her graceful form seems
infusing spirit into its silent loveliness. And then she speaks, as
if whispering a secret to the wafting air: "our happy union!" It
falls upon the ear like some angel voice speaking of things too
pure, too holy for the caprices of earth. She would be a type of
that calmness pervading the scene-that sweetness and repose which
seem mingling to work out some holy purpose; and yet there is a
touching sadness depicted in her face.
"Two years have passed; how changed!" she exclaims, as if rousing
from a reverie: "I would not be surprised if he brought bad
The postman has reached the gate and delivered a letter, which the
servant quickly bears to her hand. She grasps it anxiously, as if
recognising the superscription; opens it nervously; reads the
contents. It is from Franconia, interceding with her in behalf of
her uncle and the two children, in the following manner:--"My
"Can I appeal to one whose feelings are more ready to be enlisted in
a good cause? I think not. I wish now to enlist your feelings in
something that concerns myself. It is to save two interesting
children-who, though our eyes may at times be blinded to facts, I
cannot forget are nearly allied to me by birth and association-from
the grasp of slavery. Misfortune never comes alone; nor, in this
instance, need I recount ours to you. Of my own I will say but
little; the least is best. Into wedlock I have been sold to one it
were impossible for me to love; he cannot cherish the respect due to
my feelings. His associations are of the coarsest, and his heartless
treatment beyond my endurance. He subjects me to the meanest
grievances; makes my position more degraded than that of the slave
upon whom he gratifies his lusts. Had my parents saved me from such
a monster-I cannot call him less-they would have saved me many a
painful reflection. As for his riches-I know not whether they really
exist-they are destined only to serve his lowest passions. With him
misfortune is a crime; and I am made to suffer under his taunts
about the disappearance of my brother, the poverty of my parents.
"You are well aware of the verdict of the jury, and the affirmation
of the Court of Appeal, upon those dear children. The decree orders
them to be sold in the market, for the benefit of my uncle's
creditors: this is the day, the fatal day, the sale takes place. Let
me beseech of you, as you have it in your power, to induce the
deacon to purchase them. O, save them from the fate that awaits
them! You know my uncle's errors; you know also his goodness of
heart; you can sympathise with him in his sudden downfall. Then the
affection he has for Annette is unbounded. No father could be more
dotingly fond of his legitimate child. But you know what our laws
are-what they force us to do against our better inclinations.
Annette's mother, poor wretch, has fled, and M'Carstrow charges me
with being accessory to her escape: I cannot, nor will I, deny it,
while my most ardent prayer invokes her future happiness. That she
has saved herself from a life of shame I cannot doubt; and if I have
failed to carry out a promise I made her before her departure-that
of rescuing her child-the satisfaction of knowing that she at least
is enjoying the reward of freedom partially repays my feelings. Let
me entreat you to repair to the city, and, at least, rescue Annette
from that life of shame and disgrace now pending over her-a shame
and disgrace no less black in the sight of heaven because society
tolerates it as among the common things of social life.
"I am now almost heart-broken, and fear it will soon be my lot to be
driven from under the roof of Colonel M'Carstrow, which is no longer
a home, but a mere place of durance to me. It would be needless for
me here to recount his conduct. Were I differently constituted I
might tolerate his abuse, and accept a ruffian's recompense in
consideration of his wealth.
"Go, my dear friend, save that child,
"Is the prayer of your affectionate
Mrs. Rosebrook reads and re-reads the letter; then heaves a sigh as
she lays it upon the table at her side. As if discussing the matter
in her mind, her face resumes a contemplative seriousness.
"And those children are to be sold in the market! Who won't they
sell, and sanctify the act? How can I relieve them? how can I be
their friend, for Franconia's sake? My husband is away on the
plantation, and I cannot brave the coarse slang of a slave mart; I
cannot mingle with those who there congregate.
"And, too, there are so many such cases-bearing on their front the
fallacy of this our democracy-that however much one may have claims
over another, it were impossible to take one into consideration
without inciting a hundred to press their demands. In this sense,
then, the whole accursed system would have to be uprooted before the
remedy could be applied effectually. Notwithstanding, I will go; I
will go: I'll see what can be done in the city," says Mrs.
Rosebrook, bristling with animation. "Our ladies must have something
to arouse their energies; they all have a deep interest to serve,
and can do much:" she will summon resolution and brave all. Rising
from her seat, she paces the room several times, and then orders a
servant to command Uncle Bradshaw to get the carriage ready, and be
prepared for a drive into the city.
Soon Bradshaw has got the carriage ready, and our good lady is on
the road, rolling away toward the city. As they approach a curvature
that winds round a wooded hill, Bradshaw intimates to "missus" that
he sees signs of a camp a short distance ahead. He sees smoke
curling upwards among the trees, and very soon the notes of a
long-metre tune fall softly on the ear, like the tinkling of distant
bells in the desert. Louder and louder, as they approach, the sounds
become more and more distinct. Then our good lady recognises the
familiar voice of Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy. This worthy
christian of the Southern Church is straining his musical organ to
its utmost capacity, in the hope there will be no doubt left on the
minds of those congregated around him as to his very sound piety.
The carriage rounds the curvature, and there, encamped in a grove of
pines by the road side, is our pious Elder, administering
consolation to his infirm property. Such people! they present one of
the most grotesque and indiscriminate spectacles ever eyes beheld.
The cholera has subsided; the Elder's greatest harvest time is gone;
few victims are to be found for the Elder's present purposes. Now he
is constrained to resort to the refuse of human property (those
afflicted with what are called ordinary diseases), to keep alive the
Christian motive of his unctuous business. To speak plainly, he must
content himself with the purchase of such infirmity as can be picked
up here and there about the country.
A fire of pine knots blazes in the centre of a mound, and over it
hangs an iron kettle, on a straddle, filled with corn-grits. Around
this, and anxiously watching its boiling, are the lean figures of
negroes, with haggard and sickly faces, telling but too forcibly the
tale of their troubles. They watch and watch, mutter in grumbling
accents, stir the homony, and sit down again. Two large mule carts
stand in the shade of a pine tree, a few yards from the fire. A few
paces further on are the mules tethered, quietly grazing; while,
seated on a whiskey-keg, is the Elder, book in hand, giving out the
hymn to some ten or a dozen infirm negroes seated round him on the
ground. They have enjoyed much consolation by listening with
wondrous astonishment to the Elder's exhortations, and are now ready
to join their musical jargon to the words of a Watts's hymn.
On arriving opposite the spot, our good lady requests Bradshaw to
stop; which done, the Elder recognises her, and suddenly adjourning
his spiritual exercises, advances to meet her, his emotions
expanding with enthusiastic joy. In his eagerness, with outstretched
hand, he comes sailing along, trips his toe in a vine, and plunges
head foremost into a broad ditch that separates the road from the
The accident is very unfortunate at this moment; the Elder's
enthusiasm is somewhat cooled, nevertheless; but, as there is seldom
a large loss without a small gain, he finds himself strangely
bespattered from head to foot with the ingredients of a quagmire.
"U'h! u'h! u'h! my dear madam, pardon me, I pray;--strange moment to
meet with a misfortune of this kind. But I was so glad to see you!"
he ejaculates, sensitively, making the best of his way out, brushing
his sleeves, and wiping his face with his never-failing India
handkerchief. He approaches the carriage, apologising for his
He hopes our lady will excuse him, having so far lost himself in his
enthusiasm, which, together with the fervency and devotion of the
spiritual exercises he was enjoying with his poor, helpless
property, made him quite careless of himself. Begging a thousand
pardons for presenting himself in such a predicament (his gallantry
is proverbially southern), he forgets that his hat and spectacles
have been dislodged by his precipitation into the ditch.
The good lady reaches out her hand, as a smile curls over her face;
but Bradshaw must grin; and grin he does, in right good earnest.
"Bless me, my dear Elder! what trade are you now engaged in?" she
"A little devotional exercises, my dear madam! We were enjoying them
with so much christian feeling that I was quite carried away, indeed
I was!" He rubs his fingers through his bristly hair, and then
downwards to his nasal organ, feeling for his devoted glasses. He is
surprised at their absence-makes another apology. He affirms, adding
his sacred honour, as all real southerners do, that he had begun to
feel justified in the belief that there never was a religion like
that preached by the good apostles, when such rural spots as this
(he points to his encampment) were chosen for its administration.
Everything round him made him feel so good, so much like the purest
christian of the olden time. He tells her, with great seriousness,
that we must serve God, and not forget poor human nature, never! To
the world he would seem labouring under the influence of those inert
convictions by which we strive to conceal our natural inclinations,
while drawing the flimsy curtain of "to do good" over the real
He winks and blinks, rubs his eyes, works his face into all the
angles and contortions it is capable of, and commences searching for
his hat and spectacles. Both are necessary adjuncts to his pious
appearance; without them there is that in the expression of his
countenance from which none can fail to draw an unfavourable opinion
of his real character. The haggard, care-worn face, browned to the
darkest tropical tints; the ceaseless leer of that small, piercing
eye, anxiety and agitation pervading the tout ensemble of the man,
will not be dissembled. Nay; those acute promontories of the face,
narrow and sharp, and that low, reclining forehead, and head covered
with bristly iron-grey hair, standing erect in rugged tufts, are too
strong an index of character for all the disguises Elder Pemberton
Praiseworthy can invent.
"One minute, my dear madam," he exclaims, in his eagerness for the
lost ornaments of his face.
"Never mind them, Elder; never mind them! In my eyes you are just as
well without them," she rejoins, an ironical smile invading her
countenance, and a curl of contempt on her lip. "But,--tell me what
are you doing here?"
"Here! my dear madam? Doing good for mankind and the truth of
religion. I claim merit of the parish, for my pursuit is laudable,
and saves the parish much trouble," says the Elder, beginning to wax
warm in the goodness of his pursuit, before anyone has undertaken to
dispute him, or question the purity of his purpose.
"Still speculating in infirmity; making a resurrection man of
yourself! You are death's strongest opponent; you fight the great
slayer for small dollars and cents."
"Well, now," interrupts the Elder, with a serious smile, "I'd rather
face a Mexican army than a woman's insinuating questions,--in matters
of this kind! But it's business, ye see! according to law; and ye
can't get over that. There's no getting over the law; and he that
serveth the Lord, no matter how, deserveth recompense; my recompense
is in the amount of life I saves for the nigger."
"That is not what I asked; you evade my questions, Elder! better
acknowledge honestly, for the sake of the country, where did you
pick up these poor wretches?"
"I goes round the district, madam, and picks up a cripple here, and
a cancer case there, and a dropsy doubtful yonder; and then, some on
em's got diseases what don't get out until one comes to apply
medical skill. Shan't make much on these sort o' cases,--"
The lady interrupts him, by bidding him good morning, and advising
him, whenever he affects to serve the Lord, to serve him honestly,
without a selfish motive. She leaves the Elder to his own
reflections, to carry his victim property to his charnel-house,
where, if he save life for the enjoyment of liberty, he may serve
the Lord to a good purpose. She leaves him to the care of the
christian church of the South,--the church of christian slavery, the
rules of which he so strictly follows.
As our good lady moves quickly away toward the city, the Elder looks
up, imploringly, as if invoking the praise of heaven on his good
deeds. He is, indeed, astonished, that his dear friend, the lady,
should have made such a declaration so closely applied, so
insinuating. That such should have escaped her lips when she must
know that his very soul and intention are purity! "I never felt like
making a wish before now; and now I wishes I was, or that my father
had made me, a lawyer. I would defend my position in a legal sense
then! I don't like lawyers generally, I confess; the profession's
not as honourable as ours, and its members are a set of sharpers,
who would upset gospel and everything else for a small fee, they
would!" He concludes, as his eyes regrettingly wander after the
carriage. The words have moved him; there is something he wishes to
say, but can't just get the point he would arrive at. He turns away,
sad at heart, to his sadder scenes. "I know that my Redeemer
liveth," he sings.
In the city a different piece is in progress of performance. Papers,
and all necessary preparations for procuring the smooth transfer of
the youthful property, are completed; customers have begun to gather
round the mart. Some are searching among the negroes sent to the
warehouse; others are inquiring where this property, advertised in
the morning journals, and so strongly commented upon, may be found.
They have been incited to examine, in consequence of the many
attractions set forth in the conditions of sale.
There the two children sit, on a little seat near the vender's
tribune. Old Aunt Dina, at the prison, has dressed Annette so
neatly! Her white pinafore shines so brightly, is so neatly
arranged, and her silky auburn locks curl so prettily, in tiny
ringlets, over her shoulders; and then her round fair face looks so
sweetly, glows with such innocent curiosity, as her soft blue eyes,
deep with sparkling vivacity, wander over the strange scene. She
instinctively feels that she is the special object of some important
event. Laying her little hand gently upon the arm of an old slave
that sits by her side, she casts shy glances at those admirers who
stand round her and view her as a marketable article only.
"Auntie, where are they going to take me?" the child inquires, with
a solicitous look, as she straightens the folds of her dress with
her little hands.
"Gwine t' sell 'um," mumbles the old slave. "Lor', child, a'h wishes
ye wa'h mine; reckon da'h wouldn't sell ye. T'ant much to sell
nigger like I, nohow; but e' hurt my feelins just so 'twarnt right
t' sell de likes o' ye." The old slave, in return, lays her hand
upon Annette's head, and smooths her hair, as if solicitous of her
fate. "Sell ye, child-sell ye?" she concludes, shaking her head.
"And what will they do with me and Nicholas when they get us sold?"
continues the child, turning to Nicholas and taking him by the arm.
"Don' kno': perhaps save ye fo'h sinnin' agin de Lor'," is the old
slave's quick reply. She shakes her head doubtingly, and bursts into
tears, as she takes Annette in her arms, presses her to her bosom,
kisses and kisses her pure cheek. How heavenly is the affection of
that old slave--how it rebukes our Christian mockery!
"Will they sell us where we can't see mother, auntie? I do want to
see mother so," says the child, looking up in the old slave's face.
There seemed something too pure, too holy, in the child's
simplicity, as it prattled about its mother, for such purposes as it
is about to be consigned to. "They do not sell white folks, auntie,
do they? My face is as white as anybody's; and Nicholas's aint
black. I do want to see mother so! when will she come back and take
care of me, auntie?"
"Lor', child," interrupts the old negro, suppressing her emotions,
"no use to ax dem questions ven ye gwine t' market. Buckra right
smart at makin' nigger what bring cash."
The child expresses a wish that auntie would take her back to the
old plantation, where master, as mother used to call him, wouldn't
let them sell her away off. And she shakes her head with an air of
unconscious pertness; tells the old negro not to cry for her.
The cryer's bell sounds forth its muddling peals to summon the
customers; a grotesque mixture of men close round the stand. The old
slave, as if from instinct, again takes Annette in her arms, presses
and presses her to her bosom, looks compassionately in her face, and
smiles while a tear glistens in her eyes. She is inspired by the
beauty of the child; her heart bounds with affection for her tender
years; she loves her because she is lovely; and she smiles upon her
as a beautiful image of God's creation. But the old slave grieves
over her fate; her grief flows from the purity of the heart; she
knows not the rules of the slave church.
Annette is born a child of sorrow in this our land of love and
liberty; she is a democrat's daughter, cursed by the inconsistencies
of that ever-praised democratic goodness. A child! nothing more than
an item of common trade. It is even so; but let not happy democracy
blush, for the child, being merchandise, has no claims to that law
of the soul which looks above the frigidity of slave statutes. What
generosity is there in this generous land? what impulses of nature
not quenched by force of public opinion, when the associations of a
child like this (we are picturing a true story), her birth and
blood, her clear complexion, the bright carnatic of her cheek, will
not save her from the mercenary grasp of dollars and cents? It was
the law; the law had made men demons, craving the bodies and souls
of their fellow men. It was the white man's charge to protect the
law and the constitution; and any manifestation of sympathy for this
child would be in violation of a system which cannot be ameliorated
without endangering the whole structure: hence the comments escaping
from purchasers are only such as might have been expressed by the
sporting man in his admiration of a finely proportioned animal.
"What a sweet child!" says one, as they close round.
"Make a woman when she grows up!" rejoins another, twirling his
cane, and giving his hat an extra set on the side of his head.
"Take too long to keep it afore its valuable is developed; but it's
a picture of beauty. Face would do to take drawings from, it's so
full of delicate outlines," interposes a third.
An old gentleman, with something of the ministerial in his
countenance, and who has been very earnestly watching them for some
time, thinks a great deal about the subject of slavery, and the
strange laws by which it is governed just at this moment. He says,
"One is inspired with a sort of admiration that unlocks the heart,
while gazing at such delicacy and child-like sweetness as is
expressed in the face of that child." He points his cane coldly at
Annette. "It causes a sort of reaction in one's sense of right,
socially and politically, when we see it mixed up with niggers and
black ruffians to be sold."
"Must abide the laws, though," says a gentleman in black, on his
"Yes," returns our friend, quickly, "if such property could be saved
the hands of speculators"--
"Speculators! speculators!" rejoins the gentleman in black, knitting
"Yes; it's always the case in our society. The beauty of such
property makes it dangerous about a well-ordained man's house. Our
ladies, generally, have no sympathy with, and rather dislike its
ill-gotten tendencies. The piety of the south amounts to but little
in its influence on the slave population. The slave population
generates its own piety. There is black piety and white piety; but
the white piety effects little when it can dispose of poor black
piety just as it pleases; and there's no use in clipping the
branches off the tree while the root is diseased," concludes our
ministerial-looking gentleman, who might have been persuaded himself
to advance a bid, were he not so well versed in the tenour of
society that surrounded him.
During the above ad interim at the shambles, our good lady, Mrs.
Rosebrook, is straining every nerve to induce a gentleman of her
acquaintance to repair to the mart, and purchase the children on her
NATURE SHAMES ITSELF.
MRS. ROSEBROOK sits in Mrs. Pringle's parlour. Mrs. Pringle is
thought well of in the city of Charleston, where she resides, and
has done something towards establishing a church union for the
protection of orphan females. They must, however, be purely white,
and without slave or base blood in their veins, to entitle them to
admittance into its charitable precincts. This is upon the principle
that slave blood is not acceptable in the sight of Heaven; and that
allowing its admittance into this charitable earthly union would
only be a sad waste of time and Christian love. Mrs. Pringle,
however, feels a little softened to the good cause, and does hope
Mrs. Rosebrook may succeed at least in rescuing the little girl. She
has counselled Mr. Seabrook, commonly called Colonel Seabrook, a
very distinguished gentleman, who has a very distinguished opinion
of himself, having studied law to distinguish himself, and now and
then merely practises it for his own amusement. Mr. Seabrook never
gives an opinion, nor acts for his friends, unless every thing he
does be considered distinguished, and gratuitously rendered.
"What will you do with such property, madam?" inquires the
gentleman, having listened profoundly to her request.
"To save them from being sold into the hands of such men as Graspum
and Romescos; it's the only motive I have" she speaks, gently: "I
love the child; and her mother still loves her: I am a mother."
"Remember, my dear lady, they are adjudged property by law; and all
that you can do for them won't save them, nor change the odour of
negro with which it has stamped them."
"Of that I am already too well aware, Mr. Seabrook; and I know, too,
when once enslaved, how hard it is to unslave. Public sentiment is
the worst slave we have; unslave that, and the righteousness of
heaven will give us hearts to save ourselves from the
unrighteousness of our laws.
"Go, Mr. Seabrook, purchase the children for me, and you will soon
see what ornaments of society I will make them!"
"Ornaments to our society!" interrupts Mr. Seabrook, pausing for a
moment, as he places the fore-finger of his right hand upon his
upper lip. "That would be a pretty consummation-at the south! Make
ornaments of our society!" Mr. Seabrook turns the matter over and
over and over in his mind. "Of such things as have been pronounced
property by law! A pretty fix it would get our society into!" he
rejoins, with emphasis. Mr. Seabrook shakes his head doubtingly, and
then, taking three or four strides across the room, his hands well
down in his nether pockets, relieves himself of his positive
opinion. "Ah! ah! hem! my dear madam," he says, "if you undertake
the purchase of all that delicate kind of property-I mean the amount
total, as it is mixed up-your head'll grow grey afore you get all
the bills of sale paid up,--my word for it! That's my undisguised
opinion, backed up by all the pale-faced property about the city."
"We will omit the opinion, Mr. Seabrook; such have kept our society
where it now is. I am resolved to have those children. If you
hesitate to act for me, I'll brave-"
"Don't say that, my dear lady. Let me remind you that it ill becomes
a lady of the south to be seen at a slave-mart; more especially when
such delicate property is for sale. Persons might be present who did
not understand your motive, and would not only make rude advances,
but question the propriety of your proceedings. You would lose
caste, most surely."
Mrs. Rosebrook cares little for Mr. Seabrook's very learned opinion,
knowing that learned opinions are not always the most sensible ones,
and is seen arranging her bonnet hastily in a manner betokening her
intention to make a bold front of it at the slave-mart. This is
rather too much for Mr. Seabrook, who sets great value on his
chivalrous virtues, and fearing they may suffer in the esteem of the
softer sex, suddenly proffers his kind interposition, becomes
extremely courteous, begs she will remain quiet, assuring her that
no stone that can further her wishes shall be left unturned. Mr.
Seabrook (frequently called the gallant colonel) makes one of his
very best bows, adjusts his hat with exquisite grace, and leaves to
exercise the wisest judgment and strictest faith at the man-market.
"Such matters are exceedingly annoying to gentlemen of my standing,"
says Mr. Seabrook, as deliberately he proceeds to the fulfilment of
his promise. He is a methodical gentleman, and having weighed the
matter well over in his legal mind, is deeply indebted to it for the
conclusion that Mrs. Rosebrook has got a very unsystematised
crotchet into her brain. "The exhibition of sympathy for
'niggers'-they're nothing else" says Mr. Seabrook-"much adds to that
popular prejudice which is already placing her in an extremely
delicate position." He will call to his aid some very nice legal
tact, and by that never-failing unction satisfy the good lady.
When Mr. Seabrook enters the mart (our readers will remember that we
have already described it) he finds the children undergoing a very
minute examination at the hands of several slave-dealers. As Mr.
Forshou, the very polite man-seller, is despatching the rougher
quality of human merchandise, our hero advances to the children,
about whose father he asks them unanswerable questions. How
interesting the children look!-how like a picture of beauty
Annette's cherub face glows forth! Being seriously concerned about
the child, his countenance wears an air of deep thought. "Colonel,
what's your legal opinion of such pretty property?" enquires
Romescos, who advances to Mr. Seabrook, and, after a minute's
hesitation, takes the little girl in his arms, rudely kissing her as
she presses his face from her with her left hand, and poutingly
wipes her mouth with her right.
"Pretty as a picture"-Romescos has set the child down-"but I
wouldn't give seven coppers for both; for, by my faith, such
property never does well." The gentleman shakes his head in return.
"It's a pity they're made it out nigger, though,--it's so handsome.
Sweet little creature, that child, I declare: her beauty would be
worth a fortune on the stage, when she grows up."
Romescos touches Mr. Seabrook on the arm; remarks that such things
are only good for certain purposes; although one can make them pay
if they know how to trade in them. But it wants a man with a capable
conscience to do the business up profitably. "No chance o' your
biddin' on 'um, is there, colonel?" he enquires, with a significant
leer, folding his arms with the indifference of a field-marshal.
After a few minutes' pause, during which Mr. Seabrook seems
manufacturing an answer, he shrugs his shoulders, and takes a few
pleasing steps, as if moved to a waltzing humour. "Don't scare up
the like o' that gal-nigger every day," he adds. Again, as if moved
by some sudden idea, he approaches Annette, and placing his hand on
her head, continues: "If this ain't tumbling down a man's affairs by
the run! Why, colonel, 'taint more nor three years since old Hugh
Marston war looked on as the tallest planter on the Ashley; and he
thought just as much o' these young 'uns as if their mother had
belonged to one of the first families. Now-I pity the poor
fellow!-because he tried to save 'em from being sold as slaves,
they-his creditors-think he has got more property stowed away
somewhere. They're going to cell him, just to try his talent at
putting away things."
The "prime fellows" and wenches of the darker and coarser quality
have all been disposed of; and the vender (the same gentlemanly man
we have described selling Marston's undisputed property) now orders
the children to be brought forward. Romescos, eagerly seizing them
by the arms, brings them forward through the crowd, places them upon
the stand, before the eager gaze of those assembled. Strangely
placed upon the strange block, the spectators close in again,
anxious to gain the best position for inspection: but little
children cannot stand the gaze of such an assemblage: no; Annette
turns toward Nicholas, and with a childish embrace throws her tiny
arms about his neck, buries her face on his bosom. The child of
misfortune seeks shelter from that shame of her condition, the
evidence of which is strengthened by the eager glances of those who
stand round the shambles, ready to purchase her fate. Even the
vender,--distinguished gentleman that he is, and very respectably
allied by marriage to one of the "first families,"-is moved with a
strange sense of wrong at finding himself in a position somewhat
repugnant to his feelings. He cannot suppress a blush that indicates
an innate sense of shame.
"Here they are, gentlemen! let no man say I have not done my duty.
You have, surely, all seen the pedigree of these children set forth
in the morning papers; and, now that you have them before you, the
living specimen of their beauty will fully authenticate anything
therein set forth," the vender exclaims, affecting an appearance in
keeping with his trade. Notwithstanding this, there is a faltering
nervousness in his manner, betraying all his efforts at
dissimulation. He reads the invoice of human property to the
listening crowd, dilates on its specific qualities with powers of
elucidation that would do credit to any member of the learned
profession. This opinion is confirmed by Romescos, the associations
of whose trade have gained for him a very intimate acquaintance with
numerous gentlemen of that very honourable profession.
"Now, gentlemen," continues the vender, "the honourable high sheriff
is anxious, and so am I-and it's no more than a feelin' of deserving
humanity, which every southern gentleman is proud to exercise-that
these children be sold to good, kind, and respectable owners; and
that they do not fall into the hands, as is generally the case, of
men who raise them up for infamous purposes. Gentlemen, I am
decidedly opposed to making licentiousness a means of profit."
"That neither means you nor me," mutters Romescos, touching Mr.
Seabrook on the arm, shaking his head knowingly, and stepping aside
to Graspum, in whose ear he whispers a word. The very distinguished
Mr. Graspum has been intently listening to the outpouring of the
vender's simplicity. What sublime nonsense it seems to him! He
suggests that it would be much more effectual if it came from the
pulpit,--the southern pulpit!
"Better sell 'um to some deacon's family," mutters a voice in the
"That's precisely what we should like, gentlemen; any bidder of that
description would get them on more favourable terms than a trader,
he would," he returns, quickly. The man of feeling, now wealthy from
the sale of human beings, hopes gentlemen will pardon his
nervousness on this occasion. He never felt the delicacy of his
profession so forcibly-never, until now! His countenance changes
with the emotions of his heart; he blushes as he looks upon the
human invoice, glances slily over the corner at the children, and
again at his customers. The culminating point of his profession has
arrived; its unholy character is making war upon his better
feelings. "I am not speaking ironically, gentlemen: any bidder of
the description I have named will get these children at a
satisfactory figure. Remember that, and that I am only acting in my
office for the honourable sheriff and the creditors," he concludes.
"If that be the case," Mr. Seabrook thinks to himself, "it's quite
as well. Our good lady friend will be fully satisfied. She only
wants to see them in good hands: deacons are just the fellows." He
very politely steps aside, lights his choice habanero, and sends
forth its curling fumes as the bidding goes on.
A person having the appearance of a country gentleman, who has been
some time watching the proceedings, is seen to approach Graspum:
this dignitary whispers something in his ear, and he leaves the
"I say, squire!" exclaims Romescos, addressing himself to the
auctioneer, "do you assume the responsibility of making special
purchasers? perhaps you had better keep an eye to the law and the
creditors, you had!" (Romescos's little red face fires with
excitement.) "No objection t' yer sellin' the gal to deacons and
elders,--even to old Elder Pemberton Praiseworthy, who's always
singing, 'I know that my Redeemer cometh!' But the statutes give me
just as good a right to buy her, as any first-class deacon. I knows
law, and got lots o' lawyer friends."
"The issue is painful enough, without any interposition from you, my
friend," rejoins the vender, interrupting Romescos in his
conversation. After a few minutes pause, during which time he has
been watching the faces of his customers, he adds: "Perhaps, seeing
how well mated they are, gentlemen will not let them be separated.
They have been raised together."
"Certainly!" again interrupts Romescos, "it would be a pity to
separate them, 'cos it might touch somebody's heart."
"Ah, that comes from Romescos; we may judge of its motive as we
please," rejoins the man of feeling, taking Annette by the arm and
leading her to the extreme edge of the stand. "Make us a bid,
gentlemen, for the pair. I can see in the looks of my customers that
nobody will be so hard-hearted as to separate them. What do you
offer? say it! Start them; don't be bashful, gentlemen!"
"Rather cool for a hard-faced nigger-seller! Well, squire, say four
hundred dollars and the treats,--that is, sposin' ye don't double my
bid cos I isn't a deacon. Wants the boy t' make a general on when he
grows up; don't want the gal at all. Let the deacon here (he points
to the man who was seen whispering to Graspum) have her, if he
wants." The deacon, as Romescos calls him, edges his way through the
crowd up to the stand, and looks first at the vender and then at the
children. Turning his head aside, as if it may catch the ears of
several bystanders, Romescos whispers, "That's deacon Staggers, from
"Like your bid; but I'm frank enough to say I don't want you to have
them, Romescos," interposes the auctioneer, with a smile.
"Four hundred and fifty dollars!" is sounded by a second bidder. The
vender enquires, "For the two?"
"Yes! the pair on 'em," is the quick reply.
"Four hundred and fifty dollars!" re-echoes the man of feeling.
"What good democrats you are! Why, gentlemen, it's not half the
value of them. You must look upon this property in a social light;
then you will see its immense value. It's intelligent, civil, and
promisingly handsome; sold for no fault, and here you are hesitating
on a small bid.
"Only four hundred and fifty dollars for such property, in this
enlightened nineteenth century!"
"Trade will out, like murder. Squire wouldn't sell 'em to nobody but
a deacon a few minutes ago!" is heard coming from a voice in the
crowd. The vender again pauses, blushes, and contorts his face: he
cannot suppress the zest of his profession; it is uppermost in his
Romescos says it is one of the squire's unconscious mistakes. There
is no use of humbugging; why not let them run off to the highest
"The deacon has bid upon them; why not continue his advance?" says
Mr. Seabrook, who has been smoking his cigar the while.
"Oh, well! seein' how it's the deacon, I won't stand agin his bid.
It's Deacon Staggers of Pineville; nobody doubts his generosity,"
ejaculates Romescos, in a growling tone. The bids quicken,--soon
reach six hundred dollars.
"Getting up pretty well, gentlemen! You must not estimate this
property upon their age: it's the likeliness and the promise."
"Six hundred and twenty-five!" mutters the strange gentleman they
call Deacon Staggers from Pineville.
"All right," rejoins Romescos; "just the man what ought to have 'em.
I motion every other bidder withdraw in deference to the deacon's
claim," rejoins Romescos, laughing.
The clever vender gets down from the stand, views the young property
from every advantageous angle, dwells upon the bid, makes further
comments on its choiceness, and after considerable bantering, knocks
them down to-"What name, sir?" he enquires, staring at the stranger
"Deacon Staggers," replies the man, with a broad grin. Romescos
motions him aside,--slips a piece of gold into his hand; it is the
price of his pretensions.
The clerk enters his name in the sales book: "Deacon Staggers, of
Pineville, bought May 18th, 18-.
"Two children, very likely: boy, prime child, darkish hair, round
figure, intelligent face, not downcast, and well outlined in limb.
Girl, very pretty, bluish eyes, flaxen hair, very fair and very
delicate. Price 625 dollars. Property of Hugh Marston, and sold per
order of the sheriff of the county, to satisfy two fi fas issued
from the Court of Common Pleas, &c. &c. &c."
An attendant now steps forward, takes the children into his charge,
and leads them away. To where? The reader may surmise to the gaol.
No, reader, not to the gaol; to Marco Graspum's slave-pen,--to that
pent-up hell where the living are tortured unto death, and where
yearning souls are sold to sink!
Thus are the beauties of this our democratic system illustrated in
two innocent children being consigned to the miseries of slave life
because a mother is supposed a slave: a father has acknowledged
them, and yet they are sold before his eyes. It is the majesty of
slave law, before which good men prostrate their love of
independence. Democracy says the majesty of that law must be carried
out; creditors must be satisfied, even though all that is generous
and noble in man should be crushed out, and the rights of free men
consigned to oblivion. A stout arm may yet rise up in a good cause;
democrats may stand ashamed of the inhuman traffic, and seek to
cover its poisoning head with artifices and pretences; but they
write only an obituary for the curse.
"A quaint-faced, good-looking country deacon has bought them. Very
good; I can now go home, and relieve Mrs. Rosebrook's very generous
feelings," says the very distinguished Mr. Seabrook, shrugging his
shoulders, lighting a fresh cigar, and turning toward home with a
deliberate step, full of good tidings.
THE VISION OF DEATH HAS PAST.
MR. SEABROOK returns to the mansion, and consoles the anxious lady
by assuring her the children have been saved from the hands of
obnoxious traders-sold to a good, country deacon. He was so
delighted with their appearance that he could not keep from admiring
them, and does not wonder the good lady took so great an interest in
their welfare. He knows the ministerial-looking gentleman who bought
them is a kind master; he has an acute knowledge of human nature,
and judges from his looks. And he will further assure the good lady
that the auctioneer proved himself a gentleman-every inch of him! He
wouldn't take a single bid from a trader, not even from old Graspum
(he dreads to come in contact with such a brute as he is, when he
gets his eye on a good piece o' nigger property), with all his
money. As soon as he heard the name of a deacon among the bidders,
something in his heart forbade his bidding against him.
"You were not as good as your word, Mr. Seabrook," says the good
lady, still holding Mr. Seabrook by the hand. "But, are you sure
there was no disguise about the sale?"
"Not the least, madam!" interrupts Mr. Seabrook, emphatically.
"Bless me, madam, our people are too sensitive not to detect
anything of that kind; and too generous to allow it if they did
discover it. The children-my heart feels for them-are in the very
best hands; will be brought up just as pious and morally. Can't go
astray in the hands of a deacon-that's certain!" Mr. Seabrook rubs
his hands, twists his fingers in various ways, and gives utterance
to words of consolation, most blandly. The anxious lady seems
disappointed, but is forced to accept the assurance.
We need scarcely tell the reader how intentionally Mr. Seabrook
contented himself with the deception practised at the mart, nor with
what freedom he made use of that blandest essence of southern
assurance,--extreme politeness, to deceive the lady. She, however,
had long been laudably engaged in behalf of a down-trodden race; and
her knowledge of the secret workings of an institution which could
only cover its monstrosity with sophistry and fraud impressed her
with the idea of some deception having been practised. She well knew
that Mr. Seabrook was one of those very contented gentlemen who have
strong faith in the present, and are willing to sacrifice the
future, if peace and plenty be secured to their hands. He had many
times been known to listen to the advice of his confidential slaves,
and even to yield to their caprices. And, too, he had been known to
decry the ill-treatment of slaves by brutal and inconsiderate
masters; but he never thinks it worth while to go beyond expressing
a sort of rain-water sympathy for the maltreated. With those traits
most prominent in his character, Annette and Nicholas were to him
mere merchandise; and whatever claims to freedom they might have,
through the acknowledgments of a father, he could give them no
consideration, inasmuch as the law was paramount, and the great
conservator of the south.
Our worthy benefactress felt the force of the above, in his
reluctance to execute her commands, and the manner in which he
faltered when questioned about the purchase. Returning to her home,
weighing the circumstances, she resolves to devise some method of
ascertaining the true position of the children. "Women are not to be
outdone," she says to herself.
We must again beg the reader's indulgence while accompanying us in a
retrograde necessary to the connection of our narrative. When we
left Mr. M'Fadden at the crossing, more than two years ago, he was
labouring under the excitement of a wound he greatly feared would
close the account of his mortal speculations.
On the morning following that great political gathering, and during
the night Harry had so singularly disappeared, the tavern was rife
with conjectures. On the piazza and about the "bar-room" were a few
stupefied and half-insensible figures stretched upon benches, or
reclining in chairs, their coarse garments rent into tatters, and
their besotted faces resembling as many florid masks grouped
together to represent some demoniacal scene among the infernals;
others were sleeping soundly beside the tables, or on the lawn. With
filthy limbs bared, they snored with painful discord, in superlative
contempt of everything around. Another party, reeking with the fumes
of that poisonous drug upon which candidates for a people's favours
had built their high expectations, were leaning carelessly against
the rude counter of the "bar-room," casting wistful glances at the
fascinating bottles so securely locked within the lattice-work in
the corner. Oaths of touching horror are mingling with loud calls
for slave attendants, whose presence they wait to quench their
burning thirst. Reader! digest the moral. In this human menagerie-in
this sink of besotted degradation-lay the nucleus of a power by
which the greatest interests of state are controlled.
A bedusted party of mounted men have returned from a second
ineffectual attempt to recover the lost preacher: the appearance of
responsibility haunts mine host. He assured Mr. Lawrence M'Fadden
that his property would be perfectly secure under the lock of the
corn-shed. And now his anxiety exhibits itself in the readiness
with which he supplies dogs, horses, guns, and such implements as
are necessary to hunt down an unfortunate minister of the gospel.
What makes the whole thing worse, was the report of M'Fadden having
had a good sleep and awaking much more comfortable; that there was
little chance of the fortunate issue of his death. In this, mine
host saw the liability increasing two-fold.
He stands his important person, (hat off, face red with expectancy,
and hands thrust well down into his breeches pocket), on the top
step of the stairs leading to the veranda, and hears the
unfavourable report with sad discomfiture. "That's what comes of
making a preacher of a slave! Well! I've done all I can. It puts all
kinds of deviltry about runnin' away into their heads," he ventures
to assert, as he turns away, re-enters the "bar-room," and invites
all his friends to drink at his expense.
"Mark what I say, now, Squire Jones. The quickest way to catch that
ar' nigger 's just to lay low and keep whist. He's a pious nigger;
and a nigger can't keep his pious a'tween his teeth, no more nor a
blackbird can his chattering. The feller 'll feel as if he wants to
redeem somebody; and seeing how 'tis so, if ye just watch close some
Sunday ye'll nab the fellow with his own pious bait. Can catch a
pious runaway nigger 'most any time; the brute never knows enough to
keep it to himself," says a flashily dressed gentleman, as he leaned
against the counter, squinted his eye with an air of ponderous
satisfaction, and twirled his tumbler round and round on the
counter. "'Pears to me," he continues, quizzically, "Squire, you've
got a lot o' mixed cracker material here, what it'll be hard to
manufactor to make dependable voters on, 'lection day:" he casts a
look at the medley of sleepers.
"I wish the whole pack on 'em was sold into slavery, I do! They form
six-tenths of the voters in our state, and are more ignorant, and a
great deal worse citizens, than our slaves. Bl-'em, there is'nt one
in fifty can read or write, and they're impudenter than the
"Hush! hush! squire. 'Twon't do to talk so. There ain't men nowhere
stand on dignity like them fellers; they are the very
bone-and-siners of the unwashed, hard-fisted democracy. The way
they'd pull this old tavern down, if they heard reflections on their
honour, would be a caution to storms. But how's old iron-sided
M'Fadden this morning? Begins to think of his niggers, I reckon,"
interrupts the gentleman; to which mine host shakes his head,
despondingly. Mine host wishes M'Fadden, nigger, candidates and all,
a very long distance from his place.
"I s'pose he thinks old Death, with his grim visage, ain't going to
call for him just now. That's ollers the way with northerners, who
lives atween the hope of something above, and the love of makin'
money below: they never feel bad about the conscience, until old
Davy Jones, Esq., the gentleman with the horns and tail, takes them
by the nose, and says-'come!'"
"I have struck an idea," says our worthy host, suddenly striking his
hand on the counter. "I will put up a poster. I will offer a big
reward. T'other property's all safe; there's only the preacher
"Just the strike! Give us yer hand, squire!" The gentleman reaches
his hand across the counter, and smiles, while cordially embracing
mine host. "Make the reward about two hundred, so I can make a good
week's work for the dogs and me. Got the best pack in the parish;
one on 'em knows as much as most clergymen, he does!" he very
deliberately concludes, displaying a wonderful opinion of his own
And Mr. Jones, such is mine host's name, immediately commenced
exercising his skill in composition on a large, poster, which with a
good hour's labour he completes, and posts upon the ceiling of the
"bar-room," just below an enormously illustrated Circus bill.
"There! now's a chance of some enterprise and some sense. There's a
deuced nice sum to be made at that!" says Mr. Jones, emphatically,
as he stands a few steps back, and reads aloud the following sublime
outline of his genius:--
"GREAT INDUCEMENT FOR SPORTSMEN. Two Hundred Dollars Reward.
"The above reward will be given anybody for the apprehension of the
nigger-boy, Harry, the property of Mr. M'Fadden. Said Harry
suddenly disappeared from these premises last night, while his
master was supposed to be dying. The boy's a well-developed nigger,
'ant sassy, got fine bold head and round face, and intelligent eye,
and 's about five feet eleven inches high, and equally proportionate
elsewhere. He's much giv'n to preachin', and most likely is secreted
in some of the surrounding swamps, where he will remain until
tempted to make his appearance on some plantation for the purpose of
exortin his feller niggers. He is well disposed, and is said to have
a good disposition, so that no person need fear to approach him for
capture. The above reward will be paid upon his delivery at any gaol
in the State, and a hundred and fifty dollars if delivered at any
gaol out of the State.
"Just the instrument to bring him, Jethro!" intimates our
fashionable gent, quizzically, as he stands a few feet behind Mr.
Jones, making grimaces. Then, gazing intently at the bill for some
minutes, he runs his hands deep into his pockets, affects an air of
greatest satisfaction, and commences whistling a tune to aid in
suppressing a smile that is invading his countenance. "Wouldn't be
in that nigger's skin for a thousand or more dollars, I wouldn't!"
he continues, screeching in the loudest manner, and then shaking,
kicking, and rousing the half-animate occupants of the floor and
benches. "Come! get up here! Prize money ahead! Fine fun for a week.
Prize money ahead! wake up, ye jolly sleepers, loyal citizens,
independent voters-wake up, I say. Here's fun and frolic, plenty of
whiskey, and two hundred dollars reward for every mother's son of ye
what wants to hunt a nigger; and he's a preachin nigger at that!
Come; whose in for the frolic, ye hard-faced democracy that love to
vote for your country's good and a good cause?" After exerting
himself for some time, they begin to scramble up like so many
bewildered spectres of blackness, troubled to get light through the
means of their blurred faculties.
"Who's dragging the life out o' me?" exclaims one, straining his
mottled eyes, extending his wearied limbs, gasping as if for breath;
then staggering to the counter. Finally, after much struggling,
staggering, expressing consternation, obscene jeering, blasphemous
oaths and filthy slang, they stand upright, and huddle around the
notice. The picture presented by their ragged garments, their
woebegone faces, and their drenched faculties, would, indeed, be
difficult to transfer to canvas.
"Now, stare! stare! with all yer fire-stained eyes, ye clan of
motley vagrants-ye sovereign citizens of a sovereign state. Two
hundred dollars! aye, two hundred dollars for ye. Make plenty o'
work for yer dogs; knowin brutes they are. And ye'll get whiskey
enough to last the whole district more nor a year," says our worthy
Jones, standing before them, and pointing his finger at the notice.
They, as if doubting their own perceptibilities, draw nearer and
nearer, straining their eyes, while their bodies oscillate against
Mine host tells them to consider the matter, and be prepared for
action, while he will proceed to M'Fadden's chamber and learn the
state of his health.
He opens the sick man's chamber, and there, to his surprise, is the
invalid gentleman, deliberately taking his tea and toast. Mine host
congratulates him upon his appearance, extends his hand, takes a
seat by his bed-side. "I had fearful apprehensions about you, my
friend," he says.
"So had I about myself. I thought I was going to slip it in right
earnest. My thoughts and feelins-how they wandered!" M'Fadden raises
his hand to his forehead, and slowly shakes his head. "I would'nt a'
given much for the chances, at one time; but the wound isn't so bad,
after all. My nigger property gets along all straight, I suppose?"
he enquires, coolly, rolling his eyes upwards with a look of serious
reflection. "Boy preacher never returned last night. It's all right,
though, I suppose?" again he enquired, looking mine host right in
the eye, as if he discovered some misgiving. His seriousness soon
begins to give place to anxiety.
"That boy was a bad nigger," says mine host, in a half-whisper; "but
you must not let your property worry you, my friend."
"Bad nigger!" interrupts the invalid. Mine host pauses for a moment,
while M'Fadden sets his eyes upon him with a piercing stare.
"Not been cutting up nigger tricks?" he ejaculates, enquiringly,
about to spring from his couch with his usual nimbleness. Mine host
places his left hand upon his shoulder, and assures him there is no
cause of alarm.
"Tell me if any thing's wrong about my property. Now do,--be candid:"
his eyes roll, anxiously.
"All right-except the preacher; he's run away," mine host answers,
suggesting how much better it will be to take the matter cool, as he
is sure to be captured.
"What! who-how? you don't say! My very choicest piece of property.
Well-well! who will believe in religion, after that? He came to my
sick chamber, the black vagabond did, and prayed as piously as a
white man. And it went right to my heart; and I felt that if I died
it would a' been the means o' savin my soul from all sorts of things
infernal," says the recovering M'Fadden. He, the black preacher, is
only a nigger after all; and his owner will have him back, or he'll
have his black hide-that he will! The sick man makes another effort
to rise, but is calmed into resignation through mine host's further
assurance that the property will be "all right" by the time he gets
"How cunning it was in the black vagrant! I shouldn't be a bit
surprised if he cleared straight for Massachusetts-Massachusetts
hates our State. Her abolitionists will ruin us yet, sure as the
world. We men of the South must do something on a grand scale to
protect our rights and our property. The merchants of the North will
help us; they are all interested in slave labour. Cotton is king;
and cotton can rule, if it will. Cotton can make friendship strong,
and political power great.
"There's my cousin John, ye see; he lives north, but is married to a
woman south. He got her with seventeen mules and twenty-three
niggers. And there's brother Jake's daughter was married to a
planter out south what owns lots o' niggers. And there's good old
uncle Richard; he traded a long time with down south folks, made
heaps a money tradin niggers in a sly way, and never heard a word
said about slavery not being right, that he did'nt get into a deuce
of a fuss, and feel like fightin? Two of Simon Wattler's gals were
married down south, and all the family connections became down-south
in principle. And here's Judge Brooks out here, the very best
down-south Judge on the bench; he come from cousin Ephraim's
neighbourhood, down east. It's just this way things is snarled up
a'tween us and them ar' fellers down New England way. It keeps up
the strength of our peculiar institution, though. And southern
Editors! just look at them; why, Lord love yer soul! two thirds on'
em are imported from down-north way; and they make the very best
southern-principled men. I thought of that last night, when Mr.
Jones with the horns looked as if he would go with him. But, I'll
have that preachin vagrant, I'll have him!" says Mr. M'Fadden,
emphatically, seeming much more at rest about his departing affairs.
As the shadows of death fade from his sight into their proper
distance, worldly figures and property justice resume their wonted
possession of his thoughts.
Again, as if suddenly seized with pain, he contorts his face, and
enquires in a half-whisper--"What if this wound should mortify?
would death follow quickly? I'm dubious yet!"
Mine host approaches nearer his bed-side, takes his hand. M'Fadden,
with much apparent meekness, would know what he thought of his case?
He is assured by the kind gentleman that he is entirely out of
danger-worth a whole parish of dead men. At the same time, mine host
insinuates that he will never do to fight duels until he learns to
M'Fadden smiles,--remembers how many men have been nearly killed and
yet escaped the undertaker,--seems to have regained strength, and
calls for a glass of whiskey and water. Not too strong! but,
reminding mine host of the excellent quality of his bitters, he
suggests that a little may better his case.
"I didn't mean the wound," resuming his anxiety for the lost
preacher: "I meant the case of the runaway?"
"Oh! oh! bless me! he will forget he is a runaway piece of property
in his anxiousness to put forth his spiritual inclinations. That's
what'll betray the scamp;--nigger will be nigger, you know! They
can't play the lawyer, nohow," mine host replies, with an assurance
of his ability to judge negro character. This is a new idea, coming
like the dew-drops of heaven to relieve his anxiety. The consoling
intelligence makes him feel more comfortable.
The whiskey-and-bitters-most unpoetic drink-is brought to his
bed-side. He tremblingly carries it to his lips, sips and sips;
then, with one gulp, empties the glass. At this moment the pedantic
physician makes his appearance, scents the whiskey, gives a
favourable opinion of its application as a remedy in certain cases.
The prescription is not a bad one. Climate, and such a rusty
constitution as Mr. M'Fadden is blest with, renders a little
stimulant very necessary to keep up the one thing needful-courage!
The patient complains bitterly to the man of pills and powders;
tells a great many things about pains and fears. What a dreadful
thing if the consequence had proved fatal! He further thinks that it
was by the merest act of Providence, in such a desperate affray, he
had not been killed outright. A great many bad visions have haunted
him in his dreams, and he is very desirous of knowing what the man
of salts and senna thinks about the true interpretation of such.
About the time he was dreaming such dreams he was extremely anxious
to know how the spiritual character of slave-holders stood on the
records of heaven, and whether the fact of slave-owning would cause
the insertion of an item in the mortal warrant forming the exception
to a peaceful conclusion with the Father's forgiveness. He felt as
if he would surely die during the night past, and his mind became so
abstracted about what he had done in his life,--what was to come, how
negro property had been treated, how it should be treated,--that,
although he had opinions now and then widely-different, it had left
a problem which would take him all his life-time to solve,--if he
should live ever so long. And, too, there were these poor wretches
accidentally shot down at his side; his feelings couldn't withstand
the ghostly appearance of their corpses as he was carried past them,
perhaps to be buried n the same forlorn grave, the very next day.
All these things reflected their results through the morbidity of
Mr. M'Fadden's mind; but his last observation, showing how slender
is the cord between life and death, proved what was uppermost in his
mind. "You'll allow I'm an honest man? I have great faith in your
opinion, Doctor! And if I have been rather go-ahead with my niggers,
my virtue in business matters can't be sprung," he mutters. The
physician endeavours to calm his anxiety, by telling him he is a
perfect model of goodness,--a just, honest, fearless, and
enterprising planter; and that these attributes of our better nature
constitute such a balance in the scale as will give any gentleman
slaveholder very large claims to that spiritual proficiency
necessary for the world to come.
Mr. M'Fadden acquiesces in the correctness of this remark, but
desires to inform the practitioner what a sad loss he has met with.
He is sure the gentleman will scarcely believe his word when he
tells him what it is. "I saw how ye felt downright affected when
that nigger o' mine prayed with so much that seemed like honesty and
christianity, last night," he says.
"Yes," interrupts the man of medicine, "he was a wonderful nigger
that. I never heard such natural eloquence nor such pathos; he is a
wonder among niggers, he is! Extraordinary fellow for one raised up
on a plantation. Pity, almost, that such a clergyman should be a
"You don't say so, Doctor, do you? Well! I've lost him just when I
wanted him most."
"He is not dead?" enquires the physician, suddenly interrupting. He
had seen Mr. M'Fadden's courage fail at the approach of death, and
again recover quickly when the distance widened between that monitor
and himself, and could not suppress the smile stealing over his
"Dead! no indeed. Worse-he has run away!" Mr. M'Fadden quickly
retorted, clenching his right hand, and scowling. In another minute
he turns back the sheets, and, with returned strength, makes a
successful attempt to sit up in bed. "I don't know whether I'm
better or worse; but I think it would be all right if I warn't
worried so much about the loss of that preacher. I paid a tremendous
sum for him. And the worst of it is, my cousin deacon Stoner, of a
down-east church, holds a mortgage on my nigger stock, and he may
feel streaked when he hears of the loss;" Mr. M'Fadden concludes,
holding his side to the physician, who commences examining the
wound, which the enfeebled man says is very sore and must be dressed
cautiously, so that he may be enabled to get out and see to his
To the great surprise of all, the wound turns out to be merely a
slight cut, with no appearance of inflammation, and every prospect
of being cured through a further application of a very small bit of
The physician smiled, mine host smiled; it was impossible to
suppress the risible faculties. The poor invalid is overpowered with
disappointment. His imagination had betrayed him into one of those
desperate, fearful, and indubitable brinks of death, upon which it
seems the first law of nature reminds us what is necessary to die
by. They laughed, and laughed, and laughed, till Mr. M'Fadden
suddenly changed countenance, and said it was no laughing
affair,--such things were not to be trifled with; men should be
thinking of more important matters. And he looked at the wound, run
his fingers over it gently, and rubbed it as if doubting the depth.
"A little more whiskey would'nt hurt me, Doctor?" he enquires,
complacently, looking round the room distrustfully at those who were
enjoying the joke, more at his expense than he held to be in
accordance with strict rules of etiquette.
"I'll admit, my worthy citizen, your case seemed to baffle my skill,
last night," the physician replies, jocosely. "Had I taken your
political enthusiasm into consideration,--and your readiness to
instruct an assemblage in the holy democracy of our south,--and your
hopes of making strong draughts do strong political work, I might
have saved my opiate, and administered to your case more in
accordance with the skilfully administered prescriptions of our
politicians. Notwithstanding, I am glad you are all right, and trust
that whenever you get your enthusiasm fired with bad brandy, or the
candidates' bad whiskey, you will not tax other people's feelings
with your own dying affairs; nor send for a 'nigger' preacher to
redeem your soul, who will run away when he thinks the job
Mr. M'Fadden seemed not to comprehend the nature of his physician's
language, and after a few minutes pause he must needs enquire about
the weather? if a coroner's inquest has been held over the dead men?
what was its decision? was there any decision at all? and have they
been buried? Satisfied on all these points, he gets up, himself
again, complaining only of a little muddled giddiness about the
head, and a hip so sore that he scarcely could reconcile his mind to
place confidence in it.
"Good by! good by!" says the physician, shaking him by the hand.
"Measure the stimulant carefully; and take good care of dumplin
depôt No. 1, and you'll be all right very soon. You're a good
democrat, and you'll make as good a stump orator as ever took the
The man of medicine, laughing heartily within himself, descends the
stairs and reaches the bar-room, where are concentrated sundry of
the party we have before described. They make anxious enquiries
about Mr. M'Fadden,--how he seemed to "take it;" did he evince want
of pluck? had he courage enough to fight a duel? and could his vote
be taken afore he died? These, and many other questions of a like
nature, were put to the physician so fast, and with so many
invitations to drink "somethin'," that he gave a sweeping answer by
saying Mac had been more frightened than hurt; that the fear of
death having passed from before his eyes his mind had now centered
on the loss of his nigger preacher-a valuable piece of property that
had cost him no less than fifteen hundred dollars. And the worst of
it was, that the nigger had aggravatingly prayed for him when he
thought he was going to sink out into the arms of father death.
So pressing were the invitations to drink, that our man of medicine
advanced to the counter, like a true gentleman of the south, and
with his glass filled with an aristocratic mixture, made one of his
politest bows, toasted the health of all free citizens, adding his
hope for the success of the favourite candidate.
"Drink it with three cheers, standin'!" shouted a formidably
mustached figure, leaning against the counter with his left hand,
while his right was grasping the jug from which he was attempting in
vain to water his whiskey. To this the physic gentleman bows assent;
and they are given to the very echo. Taking his departure for the
city, as the sounds of cheering die away, he emerged from the front
door, as Mr. M'Fadden, unexpectedly as a ghost rising from the tomb,
made his entrance from the old staircase in the back. The
citizens-for of such is our assembly composed-are astonished and
perplexed. "Such a set of scapegoats as you are!" grumbles out the
debutant, as he stands before them like a disentombed spectre. With
open arms they approach him, congratulate him on his recovery, and
shower upon him many good wishes, and long and strong drinks.
A few drinks more, and our hero is quite satisfied with his welcome.
His desire being intimated, mine host conducts himself to the
corn-shed, where he satisfies himself that his faithful property
(the preacher excepted) is all snugly safe. Happy property in the
hands of a prodigious democrat! happy republicanism that makes
freedom but a privilege! that makes a mockery of itself, and
enslaves the noblest blood of noble freemen! They were happy, the
victims of ignorance, contented with the freedom their country had
given them, bowing beneath the enslaving yoke of justice-boasting
democracy, and ready to be sold and shipped, with an invoice of
freight, at the beckon of an owner.
Mr. M'Fadden questions the people concerning Harry's departure; but
they are as ignorant of his whereabouts as himself. They only
remember that he came to the shed at midnight, whispered some words
of consolation, and of his plain fare gave them to eat;--nothing
"Poor recompense for my goodness!" says Mr. M'Fadden, muttering some
indistinct words as he returns to the tavern, followed by a humorous
negro, making grimaces in satisfaction of "mas'r's" disappointment.
Now friends are gathered together, chuckling in great glee over the
large reward offered for the lost parson, for the capture of which
absconding article they have numerous horses, dogs, confidential
negroes, and a large supply of whiskey, with which very necessary
liquid they will themselves become dogs of one kine. The game to be
played is purely a democratic one; hence the clansmen are ready to
loosen their souls' love for the service. M'Fadden never before
witnessed such satisfactory proofs of his popularity; his tenderest
emotions are excited; he cannot express the fullness of his heart;
he bows, puts his hand to his heart, orders the balance of his
invoice sent to his plantation, mounts his horse, and rides off at
full gallop, followed by his friends.
A FRIEND IS WOMAN.
THE reader will again accompany us to the time when we find Annette
and Nicholas in the hands of Graspum, who will nurture them for
their increasing value.
Merciless creditors have driven Marston from that home of so many
happy and hospitable associations, to seek shelter in the obscure
and humble chamber of a wretched building in the outskirts of the
city. Fortune can afford him but a small cot, two or three broken
chairs, an ordinary deal table, a large chest, which stands near the
fire-place, and a dressing-stand, for furniture. Here, obscured from
the society he had so long mingled with, he spends most of his time,
seldom venturing in public lest he may encounter those indomitable
gentlemen who would seem to love the following misfortune into its
last stage of distress. His worst enemy, however, is that source of
his misfortunes he cannot disclose; over it hangs the mystery he
must not solve! It enshrines him with guilt before public opinion;
by it his integrity lies dead; it is that which gives to mother
rumour the weapons with which to wield her keenest slanders.
Having seized Marston's real estate, Graspum had no scruples about
swearing to the equity of his claim; nor were any of the creditors
willing to challenge an investigation; and thus, through fear of
such a formidable abettor, Marston laboured under the strongest, and
perhaps the most unjust imputations. But there was no limit to
Graspum's mercenary proceedings; for beyond involving Marston
through Lorenzo, he had secretly purchased many claims of the
creditors, and secured his money by a dexterous movement, with which
he reduced the innocent children to slavery.
Reports have spread among the professedly knowing that Marston can
never have made away with all his property in so few years. And the
manner being so invisible, the charge becomes stronger. Thus,
labouring between the pain of misfortune and the want of means to
resent suspicion, his cheerless chamber is all he can now call his
home. But he has two good friends left-Franconia, and the old negro
Bob. Franconia has procured a municipal badge for Daddy; and,
through it (disguised) he seeks and obtains work at stowing cotton
on the wharfs. His earnings are small, but his soul is large, and
embued with attachment for his old master, with whom he will share
them. Day by day the old slave seems to share the feelings of his
master,--to exhibit a solicitous concern for his comfort. Earning his
dollars and twenty-five cents a day, he will return when the week
has ended, full of exultation, spread out his earnings with
childlike simplicity, take thirty cents a day for himself, and slip
the remainder into Marston's pocket. How happy he seems, as he
watches the changes of Marston's countenance, and restrains the
gushing forth of his feelings!
It was on one of those nights upon which Daddy had received his
earnings, that Marston sat in his cheerless chamber, crouched over
the faint blaze of a few pieces of wood burning on the bricks of his
narrow fire-place, contemplating the eventful scenes of the few
years just passed. The more he contemplated the more it seemed like
a dream; his very head wearied with the interminable maze of his
difficulties. Further and further, as he contemplated, did it open
to his thoughts the strange social and political mystery of that
more strange institution for reducing mankind to the level of
brutes. And yet, democracy, apparently honest, held such inviolable
and just to its creed; which creed it would defend with a cordon of
steel. The dejected gentleman sighs, rests his head on his left
hand, and his elbow on the little table at his side. Without, the
weather is cold and damp; an incessant rain had pattered upon the
roof throughout the day, wild and murky clouds hang their dreary
festoons along the heavens, and swift scudding fleeces, driven by
fierce, murmuring winds, bespread the prospect with gloom that finds
its way into the recesses of the heart.
"Who is worse than a slave!" sighs the rejected man, getting up and
looking out of his window into the dreary recesses of the narrow
lane. "If it be not a ruined planter I mistake the policy by which
we govern our institution! As the slave is born a subject being, so
is the planter a dependent being. We planters live in
disappointment, in fear, in unhappy uncertainty; and yet we make no
preparations for the result. Nay, we even content ourselves with
pleasantly contemplating what may come through the eventful issue of
political discord; and when it comes in earnest, we find ourselves
the most hapless of unfortunates. For myself, bereft of all I had
once,--even friends, I am but a forlorn object in the scale of weak
mankind! No man will trust me with his confidence,--scarce one knows
me but to harass me; I can give them no more, and yet I am suspected
of having more. It is so, and ever will be so. Such are the phases
of man's downfall, that few follow them to the facts, while rumour
rules supreme over misfortune. There may be a fountain of human pain
concealed beneath it; but few extend the hand to stay its
quickening. Nay, when all is gone, mammon cries, more! until body
and soul are crushed beneath the "more" of relentless self.
"Few know the intricacies of our system; perhaps 'twere well, lest
our souls should not be safe within us. But, ah! my conscience
chides me here. And betwixt those feelings which once saw all things
right, but now through necessity beholds their grossest wrongs,
comes the pain of self-condemnation. It is a condemnation haunting
me unto death. Had I been ignorant of Clotilda's history, the
fiendish deed of those who wronged her in her childhood had not now
hung like a loathsome pestilence around my very garments. That which
the heart rebukes cannot be concealed; but we must be obedient to
the will that directs all things;--and if it be that we remain blind
in despotism until misfortune opens our eyes, let the cause of the