Part 2 out of 2
and bade her God-speed.
"Ye looks like a lady for all de world, honey; I 'clare dese
yer old eyes neber would a thought 'twas you, in dis yer
fine dress--hi, hi, hi! Specs nobody'll tink ye's run away.
De old nuss hates to part wid her chile; but ef ye must go, ye must,
and de bressed Lord go wid ye, and keep ye safe."
Then giving her a most affectionate hug, she put a paper of eatables
in her hand, and helped her to mount the horse before Uncle Simon,
who was already in the saddle. Where or how the old man procured
the horse and equipments, HE knew--but nobody else did.
The animal was a fast trotter, and brought them speedily five
miles to the village, where Tidy was to take the stage-coach
to Baltimore. It was before railroads and steam-engines
were much talked of in Virginia. Alighting in the outskirts
of the town, Simon lifted the young girl to the ground,
and hastily commending her to "de bressed Lord of heaben and earf,"
he bade her good-by, and went back to his bondage and toil.
They never saw each other again.
The day was fine, and riding a novel occupation for Tidy,
but so full was her trembling heart of anxiety and fear that she
could not enjoy it. She was afraid to look out of the window
lest she might be recognized by some one; and she dared not look
at the two pleasant-faced gentlemen who were in the coach with her,
lest they might question her, and find out her true condition.
So she cuddled back as closely as possible in the corner, and when
they kindly offered her cakes and fruit, she just ventured to say,
"No, thank you." Her own food, which the dear old nurse had
taken so much pains to put up for her, lay untouched in her lap,
for her heart was so absorbed she could not eat.
Night brought her to the hotel in Baltimore. The great city,
the large building, and busy servants running hither and thither quite
bewildered her, and she had to watch herself very closely lest she
should betray herself. The waiters looked at her rather suspiciously;
but she behaved with all propriety, called for her room and supper,
paid for what she had, and in the morning was ready to take her seat
in the northern stage, and no one ventured to molest or question her.
How her heart leaped when she found herself safely on her way
to Philadelphia. One day more, and she would be in a free city.
What she should do when she arrived there, how she was to support
herself in future, did not trouble her. That she might stand
on free soil, and lift up her eyes to the stars that shone on her
liberated body was all she thought of; and to-night this was to be.
With every step of the plodding horses, she grew bolder and more assured,
and her faith and hope and joyousness rose. But, alas! there was
a lion in the way of which she had not dreamed.
"Your pass!" shouted a grim-looking man, as she stepped, bag in hand,
with gentle dignity on the boat that was to take her across the stream
which divided slave territory from our free States. "Where's your pass?
Don't stand there staring at me," said the official, as the frightened
girl looked up as if for an explanation.
A pass! She had never once thought of that! No one had mentioned her
need of it. What was she to do? She looked confounded and terrified.
"No pass?" inquired the man, sternly. "'Tis easy enough to see
what YOU are, then. A runaway!" said he, turning to a man at his
right hand, "make her fast."
Frightened and trembling, Tidy tried to run, but it was of no use;
a strong hand seized her slender arm, and held her securely.
Then her sight seemed to fail her, she grew dizzy,
and fell fainting on the deck. A crowd gathered about her.
They remarked her light skin and delicate features, her ladylike
form and neat dress. Could she be a slave? they asked.
Would such a child as she appeared to be attempt to gain her liberty?
They dashed water on her head, and, as her consciousness returned,
she saw the faces of those two pleasant Scotch gentlemen,
who had rode with her the day before all the way from Virginia,
looking kindly and pitifully upon her.
"If you had only told us," they said, "we could have helped you."
But there was no friend or helper in that terrible hour, and poor Tidy,
weeping and almost heart-broken, was carried back to Baltimore,
and thrown into the SLAVE-JAIL.
A LONG JOURNEY.
IF I pronounce this disastrous event in Tidy's life another link
in the chain of loving-kindness by which God was leading her
to himself, perhaps you will wonder. But, my dear children,
adversities are designed for this very purpose, and are all directed
in infinite love and wisdom for our good. Tidy had prayed that she
might be free, and the Lord heard, and meant to answer her prayer.
He meant not only to give her the liberty she sought, but, more than that,
to make her soul free in Christ Jesus; but there were some things
she needed to learn first. She was not prepared yet to use her
personal liberty rightly, nor did she at all appreciate or desire
that other and better freedom. Therefore the Lord disappointed
her at this time, and turned the course of her life, as it were,
upside down, that by painful experiences and narrow straits she
might learn what an all-sufficient Friend he could be to her;
that she might learn too the sinfulness of her own heart, and his
free grace and mercy for her pardon and salvation.
God "leads the blind in the way they know not." Tidy knew nothing
of the method by which he was guiding her, and when she found
her hopes crushed, and herself crouching, forlorn and friendless,
weary and half-famished, in a prison, she gave up all for lost.
She felt indeed cast off and forsaken. For hours she sat
and cried despairingly, the pretty dress crumpled and stained
with tears, and the hat which had been so much admired trampled
under foot. Shame, grief, and fear of what was to come drove her
almost to distraction.
At the end of three days, Mr. Lee, acting as her master,
who had been apprised of her arrest, arrived at the prison.
But what a wretched object had he come to see! He could scarcely believe
that the miserable, dejected being before him was the once bright,
beautiful Tidy,--such a change had her disappointment and sorrow wrought.
He really pitied her, if a slaveholder ever can pity a slave, and yet
he reproached her severely. He told her she was a fool to run away;
that niggers never knew when they were well off; that if she had had a
thimble-full of sense she might have known she couldn't make her escape.
He said they had just been offered a thousand dollars for her,--
which was then considered an enormous price,--by a gentleman in Virginia,
and they had been on the point of selling her.
"I's Miss Matilda's," fiercely cried the poor girl at this,
"and SHE wouldn't a sold me; she said she never would."
"Yes, she would, Miss," replied Mr. Lee; "we don't let her throw
away such a valuable piece of property for nothing, I can tell you.
A thousand dollars in the bank isn't a small thing. It wouldn't
find feet to walk off with very soon, that we know."
"Miss Matilda TOLD me to take my liberty," said Tidy, disconsolately.
"Miss Matilda is a fool, like you. But we shall look out she don't
cheat herself in such a fashion. Now you can have your choice,
little one; you can go home with me, and take a good flogging
for an example to the rest, and stay with us till another buyer
comes up,--for Mr. Nicholson won't take such an uncertain
piece of goods as you have showed yourself to be,--or you can
go South. There's a trader here ready to take you right off.
I'll give you till tomorrow morning to make up your mind."
"I'll go South," said the poor girl, the next morning.
"I can't bear ever to see Miss Tilda again." And she settled herself
down to her fate. She knew her life of bondage would be hard there,
and she would not have much chance of getting her freedom.
But it was better than the mortification of going back.
So she was sold to Mr. Pervis, the slave-trader. Mr. Pervis made
about fifty purchases in Baltimore and the vicinity, and then
organizing his gang he started for the South. Oh, what a different
journey from that which Tidy had intended when she left home.
A thousand miles South, into the very heart of slavery's dominions,
with a company of coarse, stupid, filthy, wretched creatures,
such as she never would have willingly associated with at home,
so much more delicately had she been reared. Many of these were
field-hands sold to go to the cotton plantations,--sold for "rascality."
Do you know what that means? You think it is ugliness.
But no; it is a DISEASE. It is a droll sort of malady,
to which a learned Louisiana doctor has given a singular name,
which I can't spell, and which you wouldn't know how to pronounce;
but the symptoms I can describe. Where a slave is attacked
with this disease, he acts in a very stupid and careless manner,
and does a great deal of mischief, breaking, abusing, and wasting
every thing he can lay his hands on. He tears his clothes,
throws away food, cuts up plants in the field, breaks his tools,
hurts the horses and cattle, and does a vast amount of injury,
and in such a way that it seems as if it was all done on purpose.
He will neither work, nor eat the food offered him; quarrels with
the other slaves and fights with the drivers, and altogether acts
in such an ugly way that the overseer says he is "rascally."
If it was really ugliness, he would be whipped; but, of course,
whipping won't cure disease; so the masters consider it incurable,
and sell the slave to go South to work in the rice-swamps
and cotton-fields. They, perhaps, think a change of climate
will do more for the patient than any other means.
The Southern physicians don't have much success, to tell the truth,
in curing this difficulty, for they don't seem to understand it.
If they would only consult with some of their profession at the North, I
have no doubt they would get some valuable suggestions on the subject.
I really believe that the liberty-cure, practised by some judicious
money-pathic physician, would effectually cure this "rascality."
I wish I could see it tried.
Tidy found herself, therefore, in very undesirable company on this
expedition to Georgia, and made up her mind very shortly that there
would not be much enjoyment in it. She did not have to drag
wearily along on foot all the way; for Mr. Lee was considerate
enough to suggest to Mr. Pervis, that, as she had been brought up
as a house-servant, and not accustomed to very hard work, she would
not be able to walk much, and if she was not allowed to ride,
there would be no Tidy left by the time they got to their journey's end,
and the thousand dollars which had just been paid for her would
have been thrown away. So Mr. Pervis gave her a permanent place
in one of the wagons, and the other women were taken up by turns,
whenever the poor creatures could step no longer. The men
dragged along, handcuffed in pairs, and their low, brutal, and profane
conversation was dreadful to Tidy. Oh, how often she wished she
had staid contentedly with Mammy Grace, and not tried to run away.
And yet her hope was not utterly gone, for she often caught herself saying,
with closed teeth, "Give me a chance, and I'll try it again."
Freedom looked too attractive to be entirely relinquished.
The gang halted at night, put up their tents, lighted fires and cooked
their mean repast. Then they stretched themselves on the bare ground
to sleep. In the morning, after the wretched breakfast was eaten,
the tents were struck, the wagons loaded again, and they started for
another day's travel,--and so on till the long, wearisome march was over.
It took them many weeks before they arrived at their destination.
There Tidy was soon resold, the trader making two hundred dollars
by the bargain, and she became the property of Mr. Turner,
who took her to Natchez, on the Mississippi River, where she became
waiting-maid to Mrs. Turner, his wife.
The poor girl was never the same in appearance after she left her
Virginia home. A deep pall seemed to have been thrown over her spirit,
and her hopes and happiness lay buried beneath it. Her disposition
had lost its buoyancy, and her face wore a sad, pensive look.
She tried to do her duty here as before, and her skill and neatness made
her a favorite. But there was no one here to care for her and love
her as Mammy Grace had done; and she missed the children sadly.
Her hymn-book was neglected; for when she opened it such a flood
of recollections came over her that the tears blinded her eyes
and she could not see a word, and she never now heard a prayer.
She was again in an irreligious family, and among an ungodly set
of servants, and her faith, hope, and love began to grow dim.
A dull, heavy manner, and a careless, reckless state of mind was
growing upon her.
It required deeper sorrow than she had yet experienced to wake
her up from this sluggish, unhappy condition.
SHE was standing one beautiful evening at the front gate of the house,
leaning on the rail, and gazing listlessly up the street.
She was thinking, perhaps, of that starry night when first she had
heard of the name of God, or that other, when her faith had been
so wonderfully built up in listening to the striking experiences
and prayer of the memorable Lony. Perhaps she had wandered
farther back to the time, when, under old Rosa's protection,
she had fed the chickens and watered the flowers at Rosevale
with childish content. Whatever it was, the tears would come,
and several times she raised her hand and dashed them away.
Then she turned her head and gazed the other way.
A large hotel stood nearly opposite the house, and across the narrow
street she watched the mingling, busy crowd of black and white,
young and old, coming and going, each intent on his own interests,
each holding in his heart the secret of his own history.
Who are they all? thought Tidy, what business are they all about?
I wonder if they are all happy? not one of them knows or cares for poor,
unhappy me,--when lo! there suddenly loomed up before her a familiar face.
She watched it eagerly as it moved up and down in the throng,
for she felt that she had seen it before. But it was some minutes
before she could tell exactly where. At last it all came to her.
It was Arthur Carroll, the son of the man who had owned her when a baby.
She had often seen and played with him in her visits to her mother.
Many years had passed since she last beheld him, and he had
grown to be a young gentleman; but she was sure it was he.
He stepped out of the hotel and came towards the house.
She uttered a little, quick cry, "Why, Mass Arthur!" He turned
and recognized her, and at once stopped to inquire into her
condition and circumstances.
It was almost like a visit to old Virginia to see young Carroll;
and as cold water to a thirsty soul was the news he brought her from
that far country. Tidy drank in eagerly every word he could tell
her of the Lees, and others whom she knew, and they were enjoying
an animated conversation when Tidy's master passed that way.
He saw his slave engaged in familiar talk with a stranger,
and remembering the remark of the trader of whom he had bought her,
that she had tried "the running-away game" once, and must be watched
lest she should repeat the attempt, without waiting to inquire
into the circumstances of the case, he resolved to administer
a proper chastisement. Coming up behind, he struck her a violent
blow on the side of the head that sent the frail girl reeling
to the ground.
For a few minutes Tidy lay stunned upon the earth. When she came
to herself, her head was smarting with pain and her heart burned
like fire with indignation, and in a perfect frenzy of distress and
mortification she rushed out of the gate and flew down the street.
Up and down, through the streets and lanes of the city, she ran
for hours, not knowing or caring whither she went, until finally,
exhausted and bewildered, she dropped down upon the ground.
Some one raised the panting girl and took her to the guard-house.
There she lay until morning before she could give any distinct
thought to what she had done, and what course she was now to pursue.
When she began to think clearly, she felt that she had acted
very unwisely. For a slave to resist punishment, if it is ever
so undeserved, or to attempt to escape it by running away,
is only to provoke severer chastisement. That she well knew,
and that there was nothing to be done now, but to walk back
to her master's house and meet a fate she could not avoid.
She only hoped that, when she acknowledged her fault, and frankly told
her master that she did it under a wild and bewildering excitement,
he would pardon her and let it pass.
She dragged her weary steps back to her master's house, fainting with
fatigue and hunger, and presented herself before her mistress.
"I's right sorry I runned so," she said, "but I was kind o'
scared like, and didn't know jest what I did. I knows I's no business
to run away when massa cuffed me."
Her mistress made no reply but an angry look; but nothing was said by any
one about what had happened, and Tidy felt that trouble was brewing.
What it would be she could not tell, but her heart was heavy within her.
Nothing occurred that day, but the next morning she was told to tie
up her clothes and be ready to go up the river at ten o'clock.
She knew what going up the river meant. Mr. Turner owned a large
cotton plantation about twenty miles from Natchez, and the severest
punishment dreaded by his servants in the city was to be sent there.
Tom, the coachman, accompanied Tidy, bearing in his pocket a note
to the overseer of the plantation. Would you take a peep into
it before she, whom it most concerned, learned its contents?
It ran thus,--
"NATCHEZ, Wednesday, A. M. "DIOSSY,--
"Give this wench a hundred lashes with the long whip this afternoon.
Wash her down well, and when she is fit to work, put her into
the cotton field. "ABRAM TURNER."
Oh, let us weep, dear children, for the poor girl, who, for no crime
at all, not even a misdeed, was made to bare her tender skin to such
shameless cruelty. No friend was there to help her, to plead for her,
to deliver her from the relentless, violent hand of the wicked oppressor.
She was left all alone to her terrible suffering. Can we wonder
that she felt that even the Lord had forgotten her?
That night there was scarcely an inch of flesh from her neck
to her feet that was not torn, raw, and bleeding. The salt brine,
which is used to heal the wounds, although when first applied
it seems to aggravate the torture, was poured pitilessly
over her, and writhing with agony, fainting, and almost dead,
she was borne to a wretched hut, and laid on a hard pallet.
Three weeks she lay there, sick and helpless; but she cried unto
the Lord in her distress, and he heard her, and prepared to deliver her,
though the time of her deliverance was not yet fully come.
She had been brought low, but her eyes were not yet opened to her
true needs, and she had not yet learned the prayer God would have
her offer, "Be merciful to me, a SINNER."
Children, when you pray, do not be discouraged, if God does not answer
you INSTANTLY. His way is not as our way; and though he hears us,
and means to answer us, he may see that we are not yet ready to receive
and appreciate the blessing we seek. Besides, there is no TIME with God
as we count time. WE reckon by days and weeks, by months and years,
but with him all is "one, eternal NOW;" and he goes steadily on,
executing his purposes of love and mercy, without regard to those
points and measures of time which seem so important to us.
We must remember, too, that it takes longer to do some things than others.
A praying woman whose faith was greatly tried, once asked her minister
what this verse meant,--Luke xviii. 8: "I tell you that he will
avenge them SPEEDILY." He replied, "If you make a loaf of bread
in ten minutes, you think you have done your work speedily.
Supposing a steam-engine is to be built. The pattern must be drafted,
the iron brought, the parts cast, fitted, polished, tried,--
it will take months to complete it, and then you may consider it
SPEEDILY executed. So, when we ask God to do something for us,
he may see a good deal of preparation to be necessary,--
obstacles are to be removed, stepping-stones to be laid,--
in the words of the Bible, the rough places are to be made plain,
and the crooked ways straight, before the way of the Lord is prepared,
and he can come directly with the thing we have asked."
It was thus with Tidy. She kept praying all the time to be free,
but the Lord, who meant to give her a larger and better freedom
than she asked, led her through such rough and crooked paths that she
was quite discouraged, and nearly gave up all for lost.
This was her painful condition when she was driven, for the first time
in her life, with a gang of men and women to work in the cotton-field.
LET us look into a cotton-field; we will take this one of a hundred acres.
The cotton is planted in rows, and requires incessant tillage to secure
a good crop. The weeds and long grass grow so rankly in this warm
climate that great watchfulness and care are required to keep them down.
If there should be much rain during the season, they will spread
so rapidly as perhaps quite to outgrow and ruin the crop.
Two gangs of laborers work in the field. The plough-gang
go first through the rows, turning up the soil, and are
followed by the hoe-gang, who break out the weeds, and lay
the soil carefully around the roots of the young plants.
This operation has to be repeated again and again; and so important
is it to have it done seasonably that the workers are urged on,
early and late, until the field is in a flourishing condition.
Hot or cold, wet or dry, day and night, sometimes, the poor
creatures have to toil through this busy season. Then there is
a little intermission of the severe labor until the picking time,
when again they are obliged to work incessantly.
Most of the hoers are women and boys, some of whom do the whole
allotted task; others only a quarter, half, or three quarters, according to
their ability. When the children are first put into the field,
they are only put to quarter tasks, and some of the women are unable
to do more. The bell is rung for them at early dawn, when they rise,
prepare and eat their breakfast, and move down to the field.
Clad in coarse, filthy, and scanty clothing, they drag sullenly along,
and use their implements of labor with a slow, reluctant motion,
that says very plainly, "This work is not for ME. My toil will do ME
no good." Oh, how would freedom, kindness, and good wages spur up
those unwilling toilers! How would the bright faces, the cheerful
words and songs of independent, self-interested, intelligent laborers,
make those fields to rejoice, almost imparting vigor and growth
to the cotton itself! But, alas! it is a sad place, a valley
of sighs and groans and tears and blood, a realm of hate and malice,
of imprecation and wrath, and every fierce and wicked passion.
A "water-toter" follows each gang with a pail and calabash;
and the negro-driver stands among them with a long whip in his hand,
which he snaps over their heads continually, and lets the lash fall,
with more or less severity, on one and another, shouting and yelling
meanwhile in a furious and brutal manner, as a boisterous teamster
would do to his unruly oxen.
If the season is wet, the danger to the crop being greater, there is
more necessity for constant toil, and the poor slaves are whipped,
pushed, and driven to the very utmost, and allowed no time to rest.
It is no matter if the old are over-worked, or the young too
hardly pressed, or the feeble women faint under their burdens.
So that a good crop is produced, and the planter can enjoy his luxuries,
it is no consideration that tools are worn out, mules are destroyed,
or the slaves die; more can be bought for next year, and the slaveholder
says it pays to force a crop, though it be at the expense of life
among the hands.
At noon, the dinner is brought to each gang in a cart.
The hoers stop work only long enough to eat their poor fare standing,--
and poor fare indeed it is. The corn that is made into bread
is so filled with husks and ground so poorly that it is scarcely
better than the fodder given to the cattle; and the bacon,
if they have any, is badly cured and cooked. But they must eat
that or starve; there is no chance of getting any thing better.
The ploughmen take their dinners in the sheds where the mules are
allowed to rest; and since two hours is usually given these animals,
for rest and foddering, they, of course, must take the same.
At sunset they leave off work, and, tired and hungry, they have
to prepare their own supper; and after hastily eating it,
at nine o'clock the bell is rung for them to go to bed.
Sundays they are not usually required to work, and some planters
give their slaves a portion of Saturday, in the more leisure season;
and this intermission of field labor is all the opportunity they
have to wash and mend their clothes, or for any enjoyment.
What a sorry life! sixteen hours out of the twenty-four, with a hoe
in the hand, or a heavy cotton sack or basket tied about the neck,
toiling on under the curses and lash of the driver and the overseer.
Tidy dreaded it. Brought up as she had been, accustomed to comparatively
neat clothing, good food, cheerful associates, and light work,
how could she live here? She felt that she could not long endure it.
Her strength would fail, her task be unfinished, then she must
be punished, and before long, through hard fare, unwearied toil,
and ill usage, she felt that she should die. But there was no help.
Once she had ventured to send an entreaty to her master to take
her back to house service. But he was hardhearted and unrelenting,
and declared with an oath that made her ears tingle that she should
never leave the cotton-field till she died, and there was no power
in heaven or earth that could make him change his determination.
So she hopelessly plodded on, day after day, scorched beneath the hot sun,
and drenched with the pouring rain, weak, faint, and thirsty,
trembling before the coarse shouts, and shrinking from the tormenting
[illustration omitted] lash of the pitiless driver, sure that her
fate was sealed.
Was there no eye to pity, and no arm to rescue? Yes, the unseen God,
whose name is love, was leading her still. Through all the dark,
rough places of her life, his kind, invisible hand was laying link
to link in that wondrous chain which was finally to bring her safe
and happy into his own bosom.
THE slaves on Mr. Turner's plantation had no SABBATH. To be sure,
they were not driven to the field on Sunday, because it was considered
an economic provision to let man and beast rest one day out of the seven.
But they had no church to attend, and never had any meetings
among themselves. Indeed there were no pious ones among them.
The men took the day for sport; the women washed and ironed,
sewed and cooked, and did various necessary chores for themselves
and children, for which they were allowed no other opportunity;
and spent the rest of the day in rude singing, dancing,
and boisterous merriment.
Tidy could not live as the rest did. She could not forget the instructions
and habits of the past. She preferred to sit up later on Saturday
evening to do the work which others did on Sunday, and when that
day came, she never entered into their coarse gayety and mirth.
She had no heart for it, and did not care though she was reviled
and scoffed at for her particular, pious ways.
One Sunday afternoon, weary with the noise and rioting at the quarters,
homesick and sad, she wandered away from her hovel, and strolling
down the path which led to the cotton-field, she kept on through
bush and brake and wood until she reached the bank of the river.
Here, where the great Mississippi, the Father of Waters, seemed to
have broken his way through tangled and interminable forests,
she stood and looked out upon the broad stream. It lay like a vast
mirror reflecting the sunlight, its surface only now and then disturbed
by a passing boat or prowling king-fisher. Up and down the bank,
with folded arms and pensive countenance, the toil-worn, weary girl walked,
her soul in unison with the solitude and silence of the place.
Recollections of the past, which continually haunted her,
but which she had of late striven with all her might to banish
from her mind, now rushed like a mighty tide over her. She could
not help thinking of the pleasant Sabbath days in old Virginia,
when she and Mammy Grace were always permitted to go to church;
and of those sunset hours, when, seated in the door of the neat cabin,
she had joined with the old nurse and Uncle Simon in singing
those beautiful hymns they loved so well. How long it was since she
had tried to sing one! Before she was aware, she was humming,
in a low voice, the once familiar words:--
"Oh, when shall I see Jesus,
And reign with him above?
And from that flowing fountain
Drink everlasting love?"
Then, suddenly jumping over all the intervening verses, as if she,
a poor shipwrecked soul, were springing to the cable suddenly thrown
out before her, she burst out in a loud strain,--
"Whene'er you meet with trouble
And trials on your way,
Oh, cast your care on Jesus,
And don't forget to pray."
With what unction Uncle Simon used to pour forth that verse.
It was to him the grand cure-all, the panacea for every heart-trouble;
and over and over again he would sing it, always winding up in his
own peculiar fashion with a quick, jerked-out "Hallelujah! Amen."
His image rose vividly before Tidy at that moment, and, as the tears
began to roll down her cheeks, she clasped her hands over her face,
and cried, "Oh, I has forgot that. I has forgot to pray."
Then, falling on her knees, she poured forth such an earnest prayer
as had never before, perhaps, been heard in that vast solitude.
Her heart was relieved by this outpouring of her griefs to God,
and she wondered that she had allowed herself, notwithstanding her
sufferings and discouragements, to neglect such a privilege.
It is so sometimes; grief is so overwhelming that it seems to shut
us away from God; but we can never find comfort or relief until we
have pierced through the clouds, and got near to his loving ear and
heart again. Tidy found this true. "And now," she said to herself,
"I WILL keep on praying until he hears me, and comes to help me,--
I am determined I will."
But perhaps, thought she, I haven't prayed the right prayer;
perhaps there's something about me that's wrong; and she cried with
a loud voice, that was echoed back again from those forest depths,
"O Lord, tell me just how to pray, that I mayn't make no mistake."
No sooner had she uttered this petition than she thought she heard
a voice, and these were its words: "Say, 'O Lord, pluck me out
of the fiery brands, and take my feet out of the miry pit, and make
me stand on the everlasting rock; and, O Lord, save my soul.'"
Tidy had heard a great many of her people tell about dreams and visions
and voices, but she had never before had any such experiences.
But this came to her with a reality she could not doubt or resist.
It seemed like a voice from heaven, and she remarked that great stress
was laid upon the last words, "O Lord, SAVE MY SOUL." Hitherto she
had only sought temporal deliverance. She had never been fully
awakened to her condition as a sinner, and had, therefore, never asked
for the salvation of her soul. Now it was strongly impressed upon
her mind that there was something more to be delivered from than
the horrors of the cotton-field. She was a sinner, was not in favor
with God, and if she should die in her present condition, she would
go down to those everlasting burnings which she had always feared.
All this was conveyed to her mind by a sudden impression, in much
shorter time than I can relate it; and at once she accepted it,
and earnestly resolved that she would offer that twofold prayer every
day and hour, till the Lord should be pleased to come for her help.
Perhaps some of my readers would like to ask if I believe she really
heard a voice. No, I do not. I think it was the Holy Spirit
of God that brought to her mind some of the Scripture expressions
she had formerly heard, and applied them to her heart with power.
This is the peculiar work of the Holy Spirit. When Christ was bidding
farewell to his disciples, he told them he should send the Comforter,
which is the Holy Ghost, who should teach them all things,
and BRING ALL THINGS TO THEIR REMEMBRANCE. I think that God,
in his tender love and pity for Tidy, sent the Holy Ghost to bring
to her remembrance those things which had long been buried in
her heart; and at that tranquil hour, in that still, lonely spot,
when her spirit was tender with sorrow, she was just in the condition
to receive his influences, and give attention to the thoughts
he had stirred up within her. And coming to her perception quickly,
like a flash of light, as truth often does, it seemed to her excited
imagination like an audible voice, and the words had all the effect
upon her of a direct revelation from heaven.
This striking experience refreshed the poor girl, and nerved her anew
for her toils and trials. She felt hope again dawning within her;
and though she could see no way, she had faith to believe that the Lord
would appear for her rescue. She prayed the new prayer constantly.
It was her first thought in the morning, and her last at night,
and during every moment of the livelong day was in her heart
or on her lips.
One forenoon, as she was drawing her weary length along with
the accustomed gang, picking the ripe, bursting cotton-bolls,
a messenger arrived to say that she was wanted by the master.
She almost fainted at the summons. What could he want her for?
Surely it was not for good. Was he going to inflict cruelty again
as unmerited as it had before been? She threw off her cotton-sack
from her neck, to obey the summons; but she trembled so that she
could scarcely walk. Her knees smote one against another,
her heart throbbed, and her tongue cleaved to the roof of her mouth
in her excitement and fright. As she drew near to the house,
she perceived her master with haughty strides walking up and down
the veranda, his hands behind him and his head thrown back, his whole
appearance bearing witness to the proud, imperious spirit within.
A gentleman of milder aspect was seated on a chair, intently eying
Tidy as she approached, and she heard him say,--
"Can you recommend her, Turner? Do you really think she is capable
of filling the place?"
"Capable!" said the master. "Take off that bag, and dress her,
and you'll see. TOO smart, that's her fault. YOU'LL see."
"I like her looks; I'll try her," was the reply; and this was all
the intimation Tidy had that she had been transferred to another master.
Her heart leaped within her at what she heard; but when peremptorily
told to get ready to follow Mr. Meesham, she hesitated.
What for, do you think? Her first impulse was to throw herself
at her master's feet, and ask what had induced him to sell her.
But she dared not. He cast upon her a glance of such spurning
contempt that she cringed before him. But she made up her mind
that God only could have moved that stern, proud man to change
a purpose which he had declared to be inflexible. She was right.
God, who controls all hearts, and can turn them withersoever he pleases,
in answer to prayer, had moved that stubborn heart.
Thus the first part of Tidy's new prayer was answered.
THE new home of Mr. Meesham was in Mobile. The master was an unmarried
man, who wanted a capable superintendent for his domestic concerns,
a neat, lady-like servant to wait upon his table, a trustworthy
keeper of his keys, a leader and director of his household slaves.
All this he found in Tidy, and when she was promoted to the head
of the establishment, dressed in becoming apparel, with plenty
of food at her command, pleasant, easy work to do, and leisure
enough for rest and enjoyment, perhaps you think she was happy.
Ah, she was still a slave, and every day she was painfully reminded of it.
She could not exercise her own judgment, nor act according to her own
sense of right. She must walk in the way her master pointed out,
and do his bidding. Whatever comforts she could pick up as she
went along, she was welcome to; but she must have no choice or will
of her own.
Perhaps you think her gratitude to God for his great deliverance
would make her happy. So it did for a time, and then she forgot
her deliverer, and the still greater blessing she needed to ask of him.
How many there are just like her, who cry to God for help in adversity,
and forget him when the help comes. How many who promise God,
when they are in trouble and danger, that if they are spared they will
serve him, and, when the danger is past, entirely forget their vows.
Thus it was with Tidy. She had been brought out of the cotton-field,
and the misery that curtained it all round, into circumstances
of plenty and comparative ease; and, rejoicing that the first part
of her prayer was answered, she forgot all about the second and most
important petition, "O Lord, save my soul."
But God was too faithful to forget it. He allowed her to go on in her own
course a few years longer, and then he laid his hand upon her again.
He prostrated her upon a bed of sickness, and brought her to look death
in the face. Then the Holy Spirit began to deal powerfully with her.
She realized that she was a great sinner. It seemed that she
was standing on the brink of a horrible precipice, and her sins,
like so many tormenting spirits, were ready to cast her headlong
into the abyss of destruction. Whither could she flee for safety?
She found a Bible and tried to read; but it had been so long since she
had looked into a book that she had almost forgotten what she once knew.
It was impossible for her to read right on as we do; she could only pick
out here and there a word and a sentence. One day she opened the book
and her eye fell on the word "Come." She knew that word very well.
It made her think right away of the hymn, "Come, ye sinners,
poor and needy." She thought she would read on just there, and see
what it said; and imperfectly, and after long endeavors, she made out
this verse, "Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord:
though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool."
Then she glanced at a verse above, "Wash ye, make you clean:
put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;
learn to do well."
These verses conveyed to her dark, unin-structed mind two very
clear ideas. One was that she was to forsake every thing that
appeared to her like sin, and to do right in future; and the other,
that she was permitted to reason with the Lord about the sins she
had committed; both which she at once resolved to do.
Her prayer now was changed. Before she had begged, entreated the Lord
to forgive her sins; now she brought arguments. "Am I not a
poor slave, Lord," she cried, "that never has known nothing at all.
I never heard no preaching, I never had nobody to tell me how to be saved.
I have done a good many wicked things, but I didn't know they were
wicked then; and I have left undone many things, but I didn't know
I ought to be so particular to do them. And, Lord, out of your
own goodness and kindness won't you forgive this poor child.
You are so full of love, pity me, pity me, O Lord, and save my poor soul.
I will try to be good. I will try to do right. I'll never,
never dance no more. I'll try to bear all the hard knocks I get,
and I won't be hard on them that's beneath me, and I will pray,
and try to read the Bible, and I'll talk to the rest of the people;
only, Lord, forgive my sins, and take this load off that's breaking
my heart, and make me feel safe and happy, so I won't be afraid
when I die."
Thus the sick girl prayed with clasped hands upon her bed of pain;
but still her mind was dark. There was no one to tell her of the way
of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Had she never heard
of Jesus? She had heard his name, had sung it in her hymns;
but she imagined it to be another name for the Lord, and had never
heard of the glorious salvation that blessed Name imparts.
One night, while in this state of distress and perplexity,
Tidy dreamed a dream. She thought she saw the Lord, seated on
a majestic throne, with thousands and ten thousands of shining
angels about him, and she was brought a guilty criminal before him.
Convicted of sin, and not knowing what else to do, she again
commenced pleading in her own behalf, using every argument she
could think of to move the Lord to mercy. There was no answer,
but the great Judge to whom she appealed seemed turned aside
in earnest conversation with one who stood at his right hand,
wearing the human form, but more fair and beautiful than any person
she had ever seen. Then the Lord turned again and looked upon her,--
and such a look, of pity, of love, of forgiveness and reconciliation!
A sweet peace distilled upon her soul, and joy, such as she
had never felt, sprang up in her bosom. "I am forgiven,
I am accepted!" she cried, "but not for any thing I have said.
This stranger has undertaken my case. He has interceded for me.
I know not what plea he has used, but it has been successful,
and my soul is saved." In this exultation of joy she awoke.
Yes, her soul WAS free. The plan of salvation had been dimly revealed
to the weeping sinner in the visions of the night. What strange
ways the Lord sometimes takes to reveal his love to his creatures!
But his way is not as our way, and he has ALL means at his control.
Every soul will have an individual history to tell of the revelation
of God's mercy to it.
Thus the second part of Tidy's long-offered prayer was answered.
From this time she rejoiced in the Lord, and gloried in her
unknown Saviour. Her prayers were changed to praises, and she forgot
that she was a slave in the happiness of her new-found soul-liberty.
She kept her Bible at hand, and every now and then picked
out some precious verse; but the long, sweet story of Calvary,
hidden between its covers, she had not yet read. And her voice
found delightful employment in singing the hymns of the olden time,
which came to her now with a meaning they had never had before.
The Lord sent her health of body, and as she returned to her duties,
she tried in all things to be faithful and worthy.
THE Lord had not yet exhausted his love towards Tidy, but was
designing still greater mercies for her. He was going to deliver
her from the thralldom of oppression, and to send her to be further
instructed in his truth, and to bear testimony to his loving-kindness
in another home.
The master's heart was moved to set her free; and, embarked in a
small vessel, with a New England captain, Tidy found herself at
twenty years of age sailing away from the land of cruel bondage,
to a home where she should know the blessings of freedom.
Her emancipation papers were put into the hands of the captain,
and money to provide for her comfort, with the assurance that while
her master lived she should never want.
At first she was sick and almost broken-hearted at the change
in her condition. Much as she longed for freedom, she had formed
new ties in her Mobile home, which it was hard for her affectionate
nature to break. She was old enough now to look forward to some
of the difficulties to be encountered in a land of strangers,
seeking employment in unaccustomed ways. But she went to her Bible
as usual in her trouble, and the words which the Angel of the Covenant
addressed to Jacob, when, exiled from his father's house, he made
the stones of Bethel his pillow, came right home refreshingly to her,--"I
am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest."
The soreness at her heart was at once healed, and she cried out,
in deep emotion, "Enough, Lord! Now I have got something to hold
on by, and I will never let it go. When I get into trouble, I shall
come and say, Lord, you remember what you said to me on board ship,
and I know you will keep your promise."
Thus fortified for her new life, Tidy arrived at New York. The sun
was just setting as she planted her foot on the soil of freedom;
and as his slanting rays fell upon her, she thought of her toiling,
suffering sisters, driven at this hour from labor to misery,
and her heart sickened at the thought. "O God," she cried,
"hasten the day when ALL shall be free."
Tidy's first experience in this wilderness of delights, where was so
much to be seen, learned, and enjoyed, was a striking one, and proved
how the goodness of God followed her all the days of her life.
It was Saturday evening when she landed. The family with whom
the captain placed her were pious people, and were glad enough
of the opportunity on the morrow of taking an emancipated slave,
who had never been inside a church, to the house of God. It was
a humble, un-pretending edifice where the colored people worshiped,
but to her it was spacious and splendid. How neat and orderly every
thing appeared. Men, women, and children, in their Sunday attire,
walked quietly through the streets, and reverently seated themselves
in the place of worship. The minister ascended the pulpit,
and the singers took their places in the choir. It was communion Sunday,
and the table within the altar was spread for the holy feast.
All these strange and incomprehensible proceedings filled the mind
of Tidy with solemnity and awe.
The services began. The prayer and reading of the Scripture
seemed to feed her hungry soul as with the bread of life.
Then the congregation arose and sang,--
"Alas, and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote his sacred head
For such a worm as I?
Oh, the Lamb, the loving Lamb,
The Lamb on Calvary;
The Lamb that was slain,
That liveth again,
To intercede for me."
All through the hymn she was actually trembling with excitement.
Her whole being was thrilled, her eyes overflowed with tears,
and she could scarcely hold herself up, as verse after verse,
with the swelling chorus, convinced her that they sang the praises
of Him whom she had seen in her dream, who stood between her and
an offended God, and whom, though she knew him not, she loved and
cherished in her inmost soul. Oh, if she could know more about him!
Her wish was to be gratified. As Paul said to the people
of Athens, "Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare
I unto you," so might the preacher of righteousness have said
to this eager listener. He took for his text these words:
"He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities;
the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we
are healed." Then followed the whole story of the cross,--the reasons
why it was necessary for Jesus to give his life a ransom for many;
the divine love that prompted the sacrifice; the all-sufficiency
of the atonement; and the completeness of Christ's salvation.
He spoke of Jesus as the one accepted Intercessor, Advocate,
and Surety above, and urged his hearers to yield themselves with faith
and love to this faithful and merciful Saviour.
Tidy sat with her eyes fixed on the speaker, her mouth open
with amazement, and her hands clasped tightly over her heart,
as if to quiet its feverish throbs; and when he had finished, and one
and another in the congregation added an earnest "Amen," "Hallelujah,"
and "Praise the Lord," she could keep still no longer.
"'TIS HE," she cried, raising her hands, "'TIS HE; But I never heard
his name before."
The closing hymn fell with sweet acceptance upon her ear, and calmed,
in some measure, the tumultuous rapture of her spirit:--
"Earth has engrossed my love too long!
'Tis time I lift mine eyes
Upward, dear Father, to thy throne,
And to my native skies.
"There the blest Man, my Saviour sits;
The God! how bright he shines!
And scatters infinite delights
On all the happy minds.
*'Seraphs, with elevated strains,
Circle the throne around;
And move and charm the starry plains,
With an immortal sound.
"Jesus, the Lord, their harps employs;
Jesus, my love, they sing!
Jesus, the life of all our joys,
Sounds sweet from every string.
"Now let me mount and join their song,
And be an angel too;
My heart, my hand, my ear, my tongue,
Here's joyful work for you.
"There ye that love my Saviour sit,
There I would fain have place,
Among your thrones, or at your feet,
So I might see his face."
Is there any thing, dear children, that can penetrate the whole being
with such rapturous joy as the love of Christ? If you have never felt it,
learn to know him that you may experience those "infinite delights"
which he only can pour in upon the soul.
And now we must take leave of Tidy. She lives still, a hearty,
humble, trusting Christian. She has been led to her true rest in God,
and in him she is secure and happy; "sorrowful, yet always rejoicing;
having nothing, and yet possessing all things."
"I have every thing I want," she says, as she sits beside me, "for God
is my Father, and his children, you know, Missus, inherits the earth."
"How happens it, then, that you are so poor?" I ask.
"My Father gives me every thing he sees best for me," is her
beautiful reply. "It wouldn't be good for me to have a great many things.
When I need any thing, I ask him, and he always gives it to me.
I AM PERFECTLY SATISFIED."
Dear children, upon this little story-tree two golden apples
of instruction hang, which I want you to pluck and enjoy.
One is, that if God so loved a humble slave-child, and took
such pains to bring her to himself, it is our privilege to feel
the same sympathy and love for this poor despised race.
And this love will draw us two ways: first, towards God,
admiring and praising his infinite goodness and compassion;
and, secondly, towards these prostrate, down-trodden people,
to do all we can, in God's name, and for his dear sake, for their
elevation and instruction. Remember, "Whosoever shall give
to drink unto one of these little ones, a cup of cold water only,
in the name of a disciple,"--that is, through this feeling of love,
of Christian kindness, "he shall in no wise lose his reward."
The other,--if God so loved this humble slave-child, he has the same
love towards every one of you. Will you not yield yourselves
to his control, and let his various loving-kindnesses draw you
too to himself?
OLD DINAH JOHNSON.
ONE day little Henry Wallace came to his mother's side, as she was
sitting at her work, and, after standing thoughtfully a few moments,
he looked up in her face and said:
"Ma, how many heavens are there?"
"Only one, my child," replied his mother, looking up from her work
with surprise at such a question. "What made you ask me that?"
"Isn't there but one?" inquired Henry, with a little sort of trouble
in his voice. "Then, will Dinah Johnson go to the same heaven we do?"
"Certainly, my dear; for heaven is one glorious temple, and God
is the light of it; and into it will be gathered all those who love
the Lord Jesus Christ, to dwell in his presence, in fullness of joy,
for ever. But Henry, my darling, why did you ask such a question?
Don't you want poor old Dinah to go to the same heaven that we do?"
"Oh, yes, mamma, I love Dinah, and I want her to go to our heaven;
but last Sunday papa told me that the angels were every one fair
and beautiful, and Jacob Sanders says Dinah is a homely old darkey.
Now, how can she change, mamma?"
Henry's mother saw at once where the difficulty lay in her little
boy's mind; so, putting aside her work, she took the child up
on her knee, and explained the matter to him.
"Henry," said she, "I am sorry to hear that Jacob Sanders calls
Dinah a darkey; for those who are so unfortunate as to have a
black skin don't like to be called that or any other bad name.
They have trouble enough without that, and I hope you will never,
never do it. They like best to be called colored persons,
and we should always try to please them. We should pity them,
and try to relieve their sorrows, and not increase them.
Don't you think so?"
"Yes, ma, and I do love Dinah, and I don't care if she isn't white,
"Neither does God, our heavenly Father, care, Henry, about the color
of the skin. The Bible says, 'God is no respecter of persons;
but in every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness,
is accepted with him.' God looks at the soul more than at the body.
Nothing colors THE SOUL but sin. That stains and blackens it all over,
and only the blood of Jesus Christ can wash it pure and white again.
But every soul that has been washed and made white in the blood of
the Lamb will be welcomed into heaven, with songs of great rejoicing;
and all will dwell together in peace and purity, and love and great
happiness for ever.
"Poor old Dinah is one of God's dear children. She loves the dear
Saviour very much, and tries in every way to please and honor him;
and she is looking forward with great pleasure to the time when she shall
drop that infirm, old, black body, and be clothed with light as an angel.
I shall be glad for her,--sha'n't you, darling?"
"Yes, indeed, mamma,--so glad;" and the little boy's mind was
henceforth at rest on that point.
But I must tell my readers who old Dinah Johnson was.
Once she was a slave; but when she had become so old that her busy
head and hands and feet could do no more service for her master,
he had set her free. Of course, she was glad to be free,--
to feel that she could go where she liked, and do as she pleased,
and keep all the money she could earn for herself.
Precious little it was, though, for her sight was growing dim,
and her hands and feet were all distorted with rheumatism; and what
with pains and poverty and old age, her strength was fast wasting.
But she was happy, really happy.
If you could have looked upon her, though, you wouldn't have supposed
she had any thing to be happy about. With a skin black as night,
hair gray and scanty, her face was as homely as homely could be,
and her limbs were weak and tottering. The old, unpainted house
she lived in shook and creaked with every blast of the wintry wind,
and the snow drifted in at every crack and crevice. Her furniture
was very poor, and her food mean. But it is not what we see outside
that makes people happy. Oh, no; happiness springs from the inside.
The fountain is in the heart, from which the streams of joy
and gladness flow.
With all her homeliness and poverty, old Dinah was a jewel in
the sight of the Lord. He had graven her upon the palm of his hand,
and written her name in the book of life; and she was treasured
as a precious child in his loving heart. The name of the Lord was
precious to her, also; they were bound together in a covenant of love.
Of course, she was happy.
Her heavenly Friend never forgot her. He sent many a one to bring
her work and money and fuel and clothes. She was never without
her bread and water,--you know the Lord has told his children
that their "BREAD and WATER shall be SURE,"--and almost always she
had a little tea and sugar in the cupboard. At Thanksgiving time,
many a good basket-full of pies and chickens found their way
to her humble door; and when she had received them, she would raise
her hands and eyes to heaven, and thank the Lord for his goodness,
and ask for a blessing upon the kind hearts that sent the gifts.
She did not always know who they were, but she was sure she should
see them and love them in heaven.
The only thing that seemed to trouble old Dinah was that she couldn't
help others; that she couldn't do any thing for her Lord and Saviour.
"I am so black and ugly," she would say, "and so old and lame and poor,
that I a'n't fit to speak to any body; but I'll pray, I'll pray."
She managed to hobble to church; and there, from her high seat in
the gallery,--poor colored people must always have the highest seats
in the house of God,--she could look all around the congregation.
She took especial notice of the young men and women that came
into church; and what do you think she did? Why, she would select
this one and that one to pray for, that they might be converted.
She would find out their names, and something about them; and then
she would ask God, a great many times every day, that he would send
his Holy Spirit to them, and give them new hearts. They didn't know
any thing about her, of course, nor what she was doing. By and by,
she would hear the glad news that they had come to Christ. Then she
would choose others. These were converted, too; and by and by there
was a great revival in the church, and many sinners were saved.
After a time, there came a large crowd to join the church,
and number themselves among the Lord's people; and poor old Dinah
saw twelve young men, and several young women stand up in the aisle
that day, and give themselves publicly to God, whom she had picked
out and prayed for in this way. Oh, she was so happy, then!
Her old eyes overflowed with tears of joy, and she couldn't stop
thanking and praising God.
Now this was the good old creature that Henry Wallace thought
might have to go to another heaven, because her skin was black.
Do YOU think God would need to make another heaven for her?
No, indeed. But I'll tell you, dear children, what I think.
If there is a place in heaven higher and nearer God than another,
that's the place where poor old Dinah will be found at last.
I think that those who love God most, whether they are black or white,
rich or poor, learned or ignorant, refined or rude, will stand
the nearest to him in heaven. I am sure there was such warm love
between her and the Saviour, that he will not want her to be far away
from him in that bright world. He will call her up close to his side,
and look upon her with sweet, affectionate smiles all the time.
And many a one will wonder, perhaps, who that can be, so favored,
so distinguished. They will never imagine it to be the glorified body
of a poor, old, black slave, from such a wretched home,--will they?
If there are TWO heavens, I would like to be admitted to hers,--