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WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA
A Story Of The American Civil War.
by G.A. Henty
My Dear Lads:
The Great War between the Northern and Southern States of
America possesses a peculiar interest for us, not only because it
was a struggle between two sections of a people akin to us in race
and language, but because of the heroic courage with which the
weaker party, with ill-fed, ill-clad, ill-equipped regiments, for four
years sustained the contest with an adversary not only possessed of
immense numerical superiority, but having the command of the
sea, and being able to draw its arms and munitions of war from all
the manufactories of Europe. Authorities still differ as to the rights
of the case. The Confederates firmly believed that the States
having voluntarily united, retained the right of withdrawing from
the Union when they considered it for their advantage to do so.
The Northerners took the opposite point of view, and an appeal to
arms became inevitable. During the first two years of the war the
struggle was conducted without inflicting unnecessary hardship
upon the general population. But later on the character of the war
changed, and the Federal armies carried wide-spread destruction
wherever they marched. Upon the other hand, the moment the
struggle was over the conduct of the conquerors was marked by a
clemency and generosity altogether unexampled in history, a
complete amnesty being granted, and none, whether soldiers or
civilians, being made to suffer for their share in the rebellion. The
credit of this magnanimous conduct was to a great extent due to
Generals Grant and Sherman, the former of whom took upon
himself the responsibility of granting terms which, although they
were finally ratified by his government, were at the time received
with anger and indignation in the North. It was impossible, in the
course of a single volume, to give even a sketch of the numerous
and complicated operations of the war, and I have therefore
confined myself to the central point of the great struggle--the
attempts of the Northern armies to force their way to Richmond,
the capital of Virginia and the heart of the Confederacy. Even in
recounting the leading events in these campaigns, I have burdened
my story with as few details as possible, it being my object now, as
always, to amuse as well as to give instruction in the facts of
G. A. HENTY.
Chapter 1. A Virginian Plantation.
Chapter 2. Buying a Slave.
Chapter 3. Aiding a Runaway.
Chapter 4. Safely Back.
Chapter 5. Secession.
Chapter 6. Bull Run.
Chapter 7. The Merrimac and the Monitor.
Chapter 8. McClellan's Advance.
Chapter 9. A Prisoner.
Chapter 10. The Escape.
Chapter 11. Fugitives.
Chapter 12. The Bush-Whackers.
Chapter 13. Laid Up.
Chapter 14. Across the Border.
Chapter 15. Fredericksburg.
Chapter 16. The Search for Dinah.
Chapter 17. Chancellorsville.
Chapter 18. A Perilous Undertaking.
Chapter 19. Free.
Chapter 20. The End of the Struggle.
WITH LEE IN VIRGINIA:
A STORY OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR
CHAPTER I. A VIRGINIAN PLANTATION.
"I won't have it, Pearson; so it's no use your talking. If I had my
way you shouldn't touch any of the field hands. And when I get
my way--that won't be so very long--I will take good care you sha'n't.
But you sha'n't hit Dan."
"He is not one of the regular house hands," was the reply; "and I
shall appeal to Mrs. Wingfield as to whether I am to be interfered
with in the discharge of my duties."
"You may appeal to my mother if you like, but I don't think that
you will get much by it. I tell you you are a deal too fond of that
whip, Pearson. It never was heard of on the estate during my
father's time, and it sha'n't be again when it comes to be mine, I
can tell you. Come along, Dan; I want you at the stables."
So saying, Vincent Wingfield turned on his heel, and followed by
Dan, a negro lad of some eighteen years old, he walked off toward
the house, leaving Jonas Pearson, the overseer of the Orangery
estate, looking after him with an evil expression of face.
Vincent Wingfield was the son of an English officer, who, making
a tour in the States, had fallen in love with and won the hand of
Winifred Cornish, a rich Virginian heiress, and one of the belles of
Richmond. After the marriage he had taken her home to visit his
family in England; but she had not been there many weeks before
the news arrived of the sudden death of her father. A month later
she and her husband returned to Virginia, as her presence was
required there in reference to business matters connected with the
estate, of which she was now the mistress.
The Orangery, so called from a large conservatory built by Mrs.
Wingfield's grandfather, was the family seat, and the broad lands
around it were tilled by upward of two hundred slaves. There were
in addition three other properties lying in different parts of the
State. Here Vincent, with two sisters, one older and one younger
than himself, had been born. When he was eight years old Major
and Mrs. Wingfield had gone over with their children to England,
and had left Vincent there for four years at school, his holidays
being spent at the house of his father's brother, a country
gentleman in Sussex. Then he had been sent for unexpectedly; his
father saying that his health was not good, and that he should like
his son to be with him. A year later his father died.
Vincent was now nearly sixteen years old, and would upon coming
of age assume the reins of power at the Orangery, of which his
mother, however, would be the actual mistress as long as she lived.
The four years Vincent had passed in the English school had done
much to render the institution of slavery repugnant to him, and his
father had had many serious talks with him during the last year of
his life, and had shown him that there was a good deal to be said
upon both sides of the subject.
"There are good plantations and bad plantations, Vincent; and
there are many more good ones than bad ones. There are brutes to
be found everywhere. There are bad masters in the Southern
States just as there are had landlords in every European country.
But even from self-interest alone, a planter has greater reason for
caring for the health and comfort of his slaves than an English
farmer has in caring for the comfort of his laborers. Slaves are
valuable property, and if they are overworked or badly cared for
they decrease in value. Whereas if the laborer falls sick or is
unable to do his work the farmer has simply to hire another hand.
It is as much the interest of a planter to keep his slaves in good
health and spirits as it is for a farmer to feed and attend to his
"Of the two, I consider that the slave with a fairly kind master is to
the full as happy as the ordinary English laborer. He certainly does
not work so hard, if he is ill he is carefully attended to, he is well
fed, he has no cares or anxieties whatever, and when old and past
work he has no fear of the workhouse staring him in the face. At
the same time I am quite ready to grant that there are horrible
abuses possible under the laws connected with slavery.
"The selling of slaves, that is to say, the breaking up of families
and selling them separately, is horrible and abominable. If an
estate were sold together with all the slaves upon it, there would be
no more hardship in the matter than there is when an estate
changes hands in England, and the laborers upon it work for the
new master instead of the old. Were I to liberate all the slaves on
this estate to-morrow and to send them North, I do not think that
they would be in any way benefited by the change. They would
still have to work for their living as they do now, and being
naturally indolent and shiftless would probably fare much worse.
But against the selling of families separately and the use of the
lash I set my face strongly.
"At the same time, my boy, whatever your sentiments may be on
this subject, you must keep your mouth closed as to them. Owing
to the attempts of Northern Abolitionists, who have come down
here stirring up the slaves to discontent, it is not advisable, indeed
it is absolutely dangerous, to speak against slavery in the Southern
States. The institution is here, and we must make the best we can
of it. People here are very sore at the foul slanders that have been
published by Northern writers. There have been many atrocities
perpetrated undoubtedly, by brutes who would have been brutes
whenever they had been born; but to collect a series of such
atrocities, to string them together into a story, and to hold them up,
as Mrs. Beecher Stowe has, as a picture of slave-life in the
Southern States, is as gross a libel as if any one were to make a
collection of all the wife-beatings and assaults of drunken English
ruffians, and to publish them as a picture of the average life of
"Such libels as these have done more to embitter the two sections
of America against each other than anything else. Therefore,
Vincent, my advice to you is, be always kind to your slaves--not
over-indulgent, because they are very like children and indulgence
spoils them--but be at the same time firm and kind to them, and
with other people avoid entering into any discussions or
expressing any opinion with regard to slavery. You can do no
good and you can do much harm. Take things as you find them and
make the best of them. I trust that the time may come when
slavery will be abolished; but I hope, for the sake of the slaves
themselves, that when this is done it will be done gradually and
thoughtfully, for otherwise it would inflict terrible hardship and
suffering upon them as well as upon their masters."
There were many such conversations between father and son, for
feeling on the subject ran very high in the Southern States, and the
former felt that it was of the utmost importance to his son that he
should avoid taking any strong line in the matter. Among the old
families of Virginia there was indeed far less feeling on this
subject than in some of the other States. Knowing the good feeling
that almost universally existed between themselves aid their
slaves, the gentry of Virginia regarded with contempt the
calumnies of which they were the subject. Secure in the affection
of their slaves, an affection which was afterward abundantly
proved during the course of the war, they scarcely saw the ugly
side of the question. The worst masters were the smallest ones;
the man who owned six slaves was far more apt to extort the
utmost possible work from them than the planter who owned three
or four hundred. And the worst masters of all were those who,
having made a little money in trade or speculation in the towns,
purchased a dozen slaves, a small piece of land, and tried to set up
In Virginia the life of the large planters was almost a patriarchal
one; the indoor slaves were treated with extreme indulgence, and
were permitted a far higher degree of freedom of remark and
familiarity than is the case with servants in an English household.
They had been the nurses or companions of the owners when
children, had grown up with them, and regarded themselves, and
were regarded by them, as almost part of the family. There was, of
course, less connection between the planters and their field hands;
but these also had for the most part been born on the estate, had as
children been taught to look up to their white masters and
mistresses, and to receive many little kindnesses at their hands.
They had been cared for in sickness, and knew that they would be
provided for in old age. Each had his little allotment, and could
raise fruit, vegetables, and fowls for his own use or for sale in his
leisure time. The fear of loss of employment or the pressure of
want, ever present to English laborers, had never fallen upon them.
The climate was a lovely one, and their work far less severe than
that of men forced to toil in cold and wet, winter and summer.
The institution of slavery assuredly was capable of terrible abuses,
and was marked in many instances by abominable cruelty and
oppression; but taken all in all, the negroes on a well-ordered
estate, under kind masters, were probably a happier class of people
than the laborers upon any estate in Europe.
Jonas Pearson had been overseer in the time of Major Wingfield,
but his authority had at that time been comparatively small, for the
major himself personally supervised the whole working of the
estate, and was greatly liked by the slaves, whose chief affections
were, however, naturally bestowed upon their mistress, who had
from childhood been brought up in their midst. Major Wingfield
had not liked his overseer, but he had never had any ground to
justify him making a change. Jonas, who was a Northern man,
was always active and energetic; all Major Wingfield's orders were
strictly and punctually carried out, and although he disliked the
man, his employer acknowledged him to be an excellent servant.
After the major's death, Jonas Pearson had naturally obtained
greatly increased power and authority. Mrs. Wingfield had great
confidence in him, his accounts were always clear and precise, and
although the profits of the estate were not quite so large as they
had been in her husband's lifetime, this was always satisfactorily
explained by a fall in prices, or by a part of the crops being
affected by the weather. She flattered herself that she herself managed
the estate, and at times rode over it, made suggestions, and
issued orders, but this was only in fits and starts; and although
Jonas came up two or three times a week to the house nominally to
receive her orders, he managed her so adroitly that while she
believed that everything was done by her directions, she in reality
only followed out the suggestions which, in the first place, came
She was aware, however, that there was less content and happiness
on the estate than there had been in the old times. Complaints had
reached her from time to time of overwork and harsh treatment.
But upon inquiring into these matters, Jonas had always such
plausible reasons to give that she was convinced he was in the
right, and that the fault was among the slaves themselves, who
tried to take advantage of the fact that they had no longer a
master's eye upon them, and accordingly tried to shirk work, and to
throw discredit upon the man who looked after the interests of
their mistress; and so gradually Mrs. Wingfield left the
management of affairs more and more in the hands of Jonas, and
relied more implicitly upon him.
The overseer spared no pains to gain the good-will of Vincent.
When the latter declared that the horse he rode had not sufficient
life and spirit for him, Jonas had set inquiries on foot, and had
selected for him a horse which, for speed and bottom, had no
superior in the State. One of Mrs. Wingfield's acquaintances,
however, upon hearing that she had purchased the animal, told her
that it was notorious for its vicious temper, and she spoke angrily
to Jonas on the subject in the presence of Vincent. The overseer
excused himself by saying that he had certainly heard that the
horse was high spirited and needed a good rider, and that he should
not have thought of selecting it had he not known that Mr. Vincent
was a first-class rider, and would not care to have a horse that any
child could manage.
The praise was not undeserved. The gentlemen of Virginia were
celebrated as good riders; and Major Wingfield, himself a cavalry
man, had been anxious that Vincent should maintain the credit of
his English blood, and had placed him on a pony as soon as he was
able to sit on one. A pony had been kept for his use during his
holidays at his uncle's in England, and upon his return Vincent
had, except during the hours he spent with his father, almost lived
on horseback, either riding about the estate, or paying visits to the
houses of other planters.
For an hour or more every day he exercised his father's horses in a
paddock near the house, the major being wheeled down in an
easy-chair and superintending his riding. As these horses had little
to do and were full of spirit, Vincent's powers were often taxed to
the utmost, and he had many falls; but the soil was light, and he
had learned the knack of falling easily, and from constant practice
was able at the age of fourteen to stick on firmly even without a
saddle, and was absolutely fearless as to any animal he mounted.
In the two years which had followed he had kept up his riding.
Every morning after breakfast he rode to Richmond, six miles
distant, put up his horse at some stable there, and spent three hours
at school; the rest of the day was his own, and he would often ride
off with some of his schoolfellows who had also come in from a
distance, and not return home till late in the evening. Vincent took
after his English father rather than his Virginian mother both in
appearance and character, and was likely to become as tall and
brawny a man as the former had been when he first won the love
of the rich Virginian heiress.
He was full of life and energy, and in this respect offered a strong
contrast to most of his schoolfellows of the same age. For
although splendid riders and keen sportsmen, the planters of
Virginia were in other respects inclined to indolence; the result
partly of the climate, partly of their being waited upon from
childhood by attendants ready to carry out every wish. He had his
father's cheerful disposition and good temper, together with the
decisive manner so frequently acquired by a service in the army,
and at the same time he had something of the warmth and
enthusiasm of the Virginian character.
Good rider as he was he was somewhat surprised at the horse the
overseer had selected for him. It was certainly a splendid animal,
with great bone and power; but there was no mistaking the
expression of its turned-back eye, and the ears that lay almost flat
on the head when any one approached him.
"It is a splendid animal, no doubt, Jonas," he said the first time he
inspected it; "but he certainly looks as if he had a beast of a
temper. I fear what was told my mother about him is no
exaggeration; for Mr. Markham told me to-day, when I rode down
there with his son, and said that we had bought Wildfire, that a
friend of his had had him once, and only kept him for a week, for
he was the most vicious brute he ever saw."
"I am sorry I have bought him now, sir," Jonas said. "Of course I
should not have done so if I had heard these things before; but I
was told he was one of the finest horses in the country, only a little
tricky, and as his price was so reasonable I thought it a great
bargain. But I see now I was wrong, and that it wouldn't be right
for you to mount him; so I think we had best send him in on
Saturday to the market and let it go for what it will fetch. You see,
sir, if you had been three or four years older it would have been
different; but naturally at your age you don't like to ride such a
horse as that."
"I sha'n't give it up without a trial," Vincent said shortly. "It is
about the finest horse I ever saw; and if it hadn't been for its
temper, it would be cheap at five times the sum you gave for it. I
have ridden a good many bad-tempered horses for my friends
during the last year, and the worst of them couldn't get me off."
"Well, sir, of course you will do as you please," Jonas said; "but
please to remember if any harm comes of it that I strongly advised
you not to have anything to do with it, and I did my best to
dissuade you from trying."
Vincent nodded carelessly, and then turned to the black groom.
"Jake, get out that cavalry saddle of my father's, with the high
cantle and pommel, and the rolls for the knees. It's like an
armchair, and if one can't stick on on that, one deserves to be
While the groom was putting on the saddle, Vincent stood patting
the horse's head and talking to it, and then taking its rein led it
down into the inclosure.
"No, I don't want the whip," he said, as Jake offered him one. "I
have got the spurs, and likely enough the horse's temper may have
been spoiled by knocking it about with a whip; but we will try
what kindness will do with it first."
"Me no like his look, Massa Vincent; he debbil ob a hoss dat."
"I don't think he has a nice temper, Jake; but people learn to
control their temper, and I don't see why horses shouldn't. At any
rate we will have a try at it. He looks as if he appreciates being
patted and spoken to already. Of course if you treat a horse like a
savage he will become savage. Now, stand out of the way."
Gathering the reins together, and placing one hand upon the
pommel, Vincent sprang into the saddle without touching the
stirrups; then he sat for a minute or two patting the horse's neck.
Wildfire, apparently disgusted at having allowed himself to be
mounted so suddenly, lashed out viciously two or three times, and
then refused to move. For half an hour Vincent tried the effect of
patient coaxing, but in vain.
"Well, if you won't do it by fair means you must by foul," Vincent
said at last, and sharply pricked him with his spurs.
Wildfire sprang into the air, and then began a desperate series of
efforts to rid himself of his rider, rearing and kicking in such quick
succession that he seemed half the time in the air. Finding after
awhile that his efforts were unavailing, he subsided at last into
sulky immovability. Again Vincent tried coaxing and patting, but
as no success attended these efforts, he again applied the spur
sharply. This time the horse responded by springing forward like
an arrow from a bow, dashed at the top of his speed across the
inclosure, cleared the high fence without an effort, and then set off
across the country.
He had attempted to take the bit in his teeth, but with a sharp jerk
as he drove the spurs in, Vincent had defeated his intention. He
now did not attempt to check or guide him, but keeping a light
hand on the reins let him go his own course. Vincent knew that so
long as the horse was going full speed it could attempt no trick to
unseat him, and he therefore sat easily in his saddle.
For six miles Wildfire continued his course, clearing every
obstacle without abatement to his speed, and delighting his rider
with his power and jumping qualities. Occasionally, only when
the course he was taking would have led him to obstacles
impossible for the best jumper to surmount, Vincent attempted to
put the slightest pressure upon one rein or the other, so as to direct
it to an easier point.
At the end of six miles the horse's speed began slightly to abate,
and Vincent, abstaining from the use of his spurs, pressed it with
his knees and spoke to it cheerfully urging it forward. He now
from time to time bent forward and patted it, and for another six
miles kept it going at a speed almost as great as that at which it
had started Then he allowed it gradually to slacken its pace, until
at last first the gallop and then the trot ceased, and it broke into a
"You have had a fine gallop, old fellow," Vincent said, patting it;
"and so have I. There's been nothing for you to lose your temper
about, and the next road we come upon we will turn our face
homeward. Half a dozen lessons like this, and then no doubt we
shall be good friends."
The journey home was performed at a walk, Vincent talking the
greater part of the time to the horse. It took a good deal more than
six lessons before Wildfire would start without a preliminary
struggle with his master, but in the end kindness and patience
conquered. Vincent often visited the horse in the stables, and,
taking with him an apple or some pieces of sugar, spent some time
there talking to and petting it. He never carried a whip, and never
used the spurs except in forcing it to make its first start.
Had the horse been naturally ill-tempered Vincent would probably
have failed, but, as he happened afterward to learn, its first owner
had been a hot-tempered and passionate young planter, who,
instead of being patient with it, had beat it about the head, and so
rendered it restive and bad-tempered. Had Vincent not laid aside
his whip before mounting it for the first time, he probably would
never have effected a cure. It was the fact that the animal had no
longer a fear of his old enemy the whip as much as the general
course of kindness and good treatment that had effected the
change in his behavior.
It was just when Vincent had established a good under standing
between himself and Wildfire that he had the altercation with the
overseer, whom he found about to flog the young negro Dan.
Pearson had sent the lad half an hour before on a message to some
slaves at work at the other end of the estate, and had found him
sitting on the ground watching a tree in which he had discovered a
possum. That Dan deserved punishment was undoubted. He had at
present no regular employment upon the estate. Jake, his father,
was head of the stables, and Dan had made himself useful in odd
jobs about the horses, and expected to become one of the regular
stable hands. The overseer was of opinion that there were already
more negroes in the stable than could find employment, and had
urged upon Mrs. Wingfield that one of the hands there and the boy
Dan should be sent out to the fields. She, however, refused.
"I know you are quite right, Jonas, in what you say. But there were
always four hands in the stable in my father's time, and there
always have been up to now; and though I know they have an easy
time of it, I certainly should not like to send any of them out to the
fields. As to Dan, we will think about it. When his father was
about his age he used to lead my pony when I first took to riding,
and when there is a vacancy Dan must come into the stable. I
could not think of sending him out as a field hand, in the first
place for his father's sake, but still more for that of Vincent. Dan
used to be told off to see that he did not get into mischief when he
was a little boy, and he has run messages and been his special boy
since he came back. Vincent wanted to have him as his regular
house servant; but it would have broken old Sam's heart if, after
being my father's boy and my husband's, another had taken his
place as Vincent's."
And so Dan had remained in the stable, but regarding Vincent as
his special master, carrying notes for him to his friends, or doing
any odd jobs he might require, and spending no small portion of
his time in sleep. Thus he was an object of special dislike to the
overseer; in the first place because he had not succeeded in having
his way with regard to him, and in the second because he was a
useless hand, and the overseer loved to get as much work as
possible out of every one on the estate. The message had been a
somewhat important one, as he wanted the slaves for some work
that was urgently required; and he lost his temper, or he would not
have done an act which would certainly bring him into collision
He was well aware that the lad did not really like him, and that his
efforts to gain his good-will had failed, and he had foreseen that
sooner or later there would be a struggle for power between them.
However, he relied upon his influence with Mrs. Wingfield, and
upon the fact that she was the life-owner of the Orangery, and
believed that he would be able to maintain his position even when
Vincent came of age. Vincent on his side objected altogether to
the overseer's treatment of the hands, of which he heard a good
deal from Dan, and had already remonstrated with his mother on
the subject. He, however, gained nothing by this. Mrs. Wingfield
had replied that he was too young to interfere in such matters, that
his English ideas would not do in Virginia, and that naturally the
slaves were set against the overseer; and that now Pearson had no
longer a master to support him, he was obliged to be more severe
than before to enforce obedience. At the same time it vexed her at
heart that there should be any severity on the Orangery estate,
where the best relations had always prevailed between the masters
and slaves, and she had herself spoken to Jonas on the subject.
He had given her the same answer that she had given her son: "The
slaves will work for a master, Mrs. Wingfield, in a way they will
not for a stranger. They set themselves against me, and if I were
not severe with them I should get no work at all out of them. Of
course, if you wish it, they can do as they like; but in that case they
must have another overseer. I cannot see a fine estate going to
ruin. I believe myself some of these Abolition fellows have been
getting among them and doing them mischief, and that there is a
bad spirit growing up among them. I can assure you that I am as
lenient with them as is possible to be. But if they won't work I
must make them, so long as I stay here."
And so the overseer had had his way. She knew that the man was
a good servant, and that the estate was kept in excellent order.
After all, the severities of which she had heard complaints were by
no means excessive; and it was not to be expected that a Northern
overseer could rule entirely by kindness, as the owner of an estate
could do. A change would be most inconvenient to her, and she
would have difficulty in suiting herself so well another time.
Besides, the man had been with her sixteen years, and was, as she
believed, devoted to her interests. Therefore she turned a deaf ear
to Vincent's remonstrances.
She had always been somewhat opposed to his being left in
England at school, urging that he would learn ideas there that
would clash with those of the people among whom his life was to
be spent; and she still considered that her views had been justified
by the result.
The overseer was the first to give his version of the story about
Dan's conduct; for on going to the house Vincent found his sisters,
Rosa and Annie, in the garden, having just returned from a two
days' visit to some friends in Richmond, and stayed chatting with
them and listening to their news for an hour, and in the meantime
Jonas had gone in and seen Mrs. Wingfield and told his story.
"I think, Mrs. Wingfield," he said when he had finished, "that it
will be better for me to leave you. It is quite evident that I can
have no authority over the hands if your son is to interfere when I
am about to punish a slave for an act of gross disobedience and
neglect. I found that all the tobacco required turning, and now it
will not be done this afternoon owing to my orders not being
carried out, and the tobacco will not improbably be injured in
quality. My position is difficult enough as it is; but if the slaves
see that instead of being supported I am thwarted by your son, my
authority is gone altogether. No overseer can carry on his work
properly under such circumstances."
"I will see to the matter, Jonas," Mrs. Wingfield said decidedly.
"Be assured that you have my entire support, and I will see that my
son does not again interfere."
When, therefore, Vincent entered the house and began his
complaint he found himself cut short.
"I have heard the story already, Vincent. Dan acted in gross
disobedience, and thoroughly deserved the punishment Jonas was
about to give him. The work of the estate cannot be carried on if
such conduct is to be tolerated; and once for all, I will permit no
interference on your part with Jonas. If you have any complaints
to make, come to me and make them; but you are not yourself to
interfere in any way with the overseer. As for Dan, I have directed
Jonas that the next time he gives cause for complaint he is to go
into the fields."
Vincent stood silent for a minute, then he said quietly:
"Very well, mother. Of course you can do as you like; but at any
rate I will not keep my month shut when I see that fellow
ill-treating the slaves. Such things were never done in my father's
time, and I won't see them done now. You said the other day you
would get me a nomination to West Point as soon as I was sixteen.
I should be glad if you would do so. By the time I have gone
through the school, you will perhaps see that I have been right
So saying, he turned and left the room and again joined his sisters
in the drawing-room.
"I have just told mother that I will go to West Point, girls," he said.
"Father said more than once that he thought it was the best
education I could get in America."
"But I thought you had made up your mind that you would rather
stop at home, Vincent?"
"So I had, and so I would have done, but mother and I differ in
opinion. That fellow Jonas was going to flog Dan, and I stopped
him this morning, and mother takes his part against me. You
know, I don't like the way he goes on with the slaves. They are not
half so merry and happy as they used to be, and I don't like it. We
shall have one of them running away next, and that will be a nice
thing on what used to be considered one of the happiest plantations
in Virginia. I can't make mother out; I should have thought that
she would have been the last person in the world to have allowed
the slaves to be harshly treated."
"I am sure we don't like Jonas more than you do, Vincent; but you
see mamma has to depend upon him so much. No, I don't think
she can like it; but you can't have everything you like in a man, and
I know she thinks he is a very good overseer. I suppose she could
Vincent said he thought that there could not be much difficulty
about getting an overseer.
"There might be a difficulty in getting one she could rely on so
thoroughly," Rosa said. "You see a great deal must be left to him.
Jonas has been here a good many years now, and she has learned
to trust him. It would be a long time before she had the same
confidence in a stranger; and you may be sure that he would have
his faults, though, perhaps, not the same as those of Jonas. I think
you don't make allowance enough for mamma, Vincent. I quite
agree with you as to Jonas, and I don't think mamma can like his
harshness to the slaves any more than you do; but every one says
what a difficulty it is to get a really trustworthy and capable
overseer, and, of course, it is all the harder when there is no master
to look after him."
"Well, in a few years I shall be able to look after an overseer,"
"You might do so, of course, Vincent, if you liked; but unless you
change a good deal, I don't think your supervision would amount to
much. When you are not at school you are always on horseback
and away, and we see little enough of you, and I do not think you
are likely for a long time yet to give up most of your time to
looking after the estate."
"Perhaps you are right," Vincent said, after thinking for a minute;
"but I think I could settle down too, and give most of my time to
the estate, if I was responsible for it. I dare say mother is in a
difficulty over it, and I should not have spoken as I did; I will go in
and tell her so."
Vincent found his mother sitting as he had left her. Although she
had sided with Jonas, it was against her will; for it was grievous to
her to hear complaints of the treatment of the slaves at the
Orangery. Still, as Rosa had said, she felt every confidence in her
overseer, and believed that he was an excellent servant. She was
conscious that she herself knew nothing of business, and that she
must therefore give her entire confidence to her manager. She
greatly disliked the strictness of Jonas; but if, as he said, the slaves
would not obey him without, he must do as he thought best.
"I think I spoke too hastily, mother," Vincent said as he entered;
"and I am sure that you would not wish the slaves to be ill-treated
more than I should. I dare say Jonas means for the best."
"I feel sure that he does, Vincent. A man in his position cannot
make himself obeyed like a master. I wish it could be otherwise,
and I will speak to him on the subject; but it will not do to
interfere with him too much. A good overseer is not easy to get,
and the slaves are always ready to take advantage of leniency. An
easy master makes bad work, but an easy overseer would mean
ruin to an estate. I am convinced that Jonas has our interests at
heart, and I will tell him that I particularly wish that he will devise
some other sort of punishment, such as depriving men who won't
work of some of their privileges instead of using the lash."
"Thank you, mother. At any rate, he might he told that the lash is
never to be used without first appealing to you."
"I will see about it, Vincent, and talk it over with him." And with
that Vincent was satisfied.
CHAPTER II. BUYING A SLAVE.
Mrs. Wingfield did talk the matter over with the overseer, and
things went on in consequence more smoothly. Vincent, however,
adhered to his wish, and it was arranged that as soon as he could
get a nomination he should go to West Point, which is to the
American army what Sandhurst and Woolwich are to England.
Before that could he done, however, a great political agitation
sprang up. The slaves States were greatly excited over the prospect
of a Republican president being chosen, for the Republicans were
to a great extent identified with the abolition movement; and
public feeling, which had for some time run high, became
intensified as the time approached for the election of a new
president, and threats that if the Democrats were beaten and a
Republican elected the slave States would secede from the Union,
were freely indulged in.
In Virginia, which was one of the most northern of the slave
States, opinion was somewhat divided, there being a strong
minority against any extreme measures being taken. Among
Vincent's friends, however, who were for the most part the sons of
planters, the Democratic feeling was very strongly in the
ascendant, and their sympathies were wholly with the Southern
States. That these had a right to secede was assumed by them as
But in point of fact there was a great deal to be said on both sides.
The States which first entered the Union in 1776 considered
themselves to be separate and sovereign States, each possessing
power and authority to manage its own affairs, and forming only a
federation in order to construct a central power, and so to operate
with more effect against the mother country. Two years later the
constitution of the United States was framed, each State giving up
a certain portion of its authority, reserving its own self-government
and whatever rights were not specifically resigned.
No mention was made in the constitution of the right of a State to
secede from the Union, and while those who insisted that each
State had a right to secede if it chose to do so declared that this
right was reserved, their opponents affirmed that such a case could
never have been contemplated. Thus the question of absolute right
had never been settled, and it became purely one of force.
Early in November, 1860, it became known that the election of
Mr. Lincoln, the Republican candidate, was assured, and on the
ninth of that month the representatives of South Carolina met at
Charleston, and unanimously authorized the holding of a State
convention to meet in the third week in December. The
announcement caused great excitement, for it was considered
certain that the convention would pass a vote of secession, and
thus bring the debated question to an issue. Although opinion in
Virginia was less unanimous than in the more southern States, it
was generally thought that she would imitate the example of South
On the day following the receipt of the news, Vincent, who had
ridden over to the plantations of several of his friends to talk the
matter over, was returning homeward, when he heard the sound of
heavy blows with a whip and loud curses, and a moment later a
shrill scream in a woman's voice rose in the air.
Vincent checked his horse mechanically with an exclamation of
auger. He knew but too well what was going on beyond the screen
of shrubs that grew on the other side of the fence bordering the
road. For a moment he hesitated, and then muttering, "What's the
use!" was about to touch the horse with the whip and gallop on,
when the shriek again rose louder and more agonizing than before.
With a cry of rage Vincent leaped from his horse, threw the reins
over the top of the fence, climbed over it in a moment, and burst
his way through the shrubbery.
Close by a negro was being held by four others, two having hold of
each wrist and holding his arms extended to full length, while a
white lad, some two years Vincent's senior, was showering blows
with a heavy whip upon him. The slave's back was already
covered with weals, and the blood was flowing from several
places. A few yards distant a black girl, with a baby in her arms,
was kneeling on the ground screaming for mercy for the slave.
Just as Vincent burst through the bushes, the young fellow,
irritated at her cries, turned round and delivered a tremendous
blow with the whip on her bare shoulders.
This time no cry came from her lips, but the slave, who had stood
immovable while the punishment was being inflicted upon
himself, made a desperate effort to break from the men who held
him. He was unsuccessful, but before the whip could again fall on
the woman's shoulders, Vincent sprang forward, and seizing it,
wrested it from the hands of the striker. With an oath of fury and
surprise at this sudden interruption, the young fellow turned upon
"You are a coward and a blackguard, Andrew Jackson!" Vincent
exclaimed, white with auger. "You are a disgrace to Virginia, you
Without a word the young planter, mad with rage at this
interference, rushed at Vincent; but the latter had learned the use of
his fists at his English school, and riding exercises had
strengthened his muscles, and as his opponent rushed at him, he
met him with a blow from the shoulder which sent him staggering
back with the blood streaming from his lips. He again rushed
forward, and heavy blows were exchanged; then they closed and
grappled. For a minute they swayed to and from but although
much taller, the young planter was no stronger than Vincent, and at
last they came to the ground with a crash, Vincent uppermost,
Jackson's head as he fell coming with such force against a low
stump that he lay insensible.
The contest had been so sudden and furious that none had
attempted to interfere. Indeed the negroes were so astonished that
they had not moved from the moment when Vincent made his
appearance upon the scene. The lad rose to his feet.
"You had better carry him up to the house and throw some water
on him," he said to the negroes, and then turned to go away. As he
did so, the slave who had been flogged broke from the others, who
had indeed loosened their hold, and ran up to Vincent, threw
himself on his knees, and taking the lad's hand pressed it to his
"I am afraid I haven't done you much good," Vincent said. "You
will be none the better off for my interference; but I couldn't help
it." So saying he made his way through the shrubbery, cleared the
fence, mounted, and route homeward.
"I have been a fool," he said to himself as he rode along. "It will be
all the worse for that poor beggar afterward; still I could not help
it. I wonder will there be any row about it. I don't much expect
there will, the Jacksons don't stand well now, and this would not
do them any good with the people round; besides I don't think
Jackson would like to go into court to complain of being thrashed
by a fellow a head shorter than himself. It's blackguards like him
who give the Abolitionists a right to hold up the slave-owners as
being tyrants and brutes."
The Jacksons were newcomers in Virginia. Six years before, the
estate, of which the Cedars, as their place was called, formed a
part, was put up for sale. It was a very large one, and having been
divided into several portions to suit buyers, the Cedars had been
purchased by Jackson, who, having been very successful as a
storekeeper at Charleston, had decided upon giving up the business
and leaving South Carolina, and settling down as a land-owner in
some other State. His antecedents, however, were soon known at
Richmond, and the old Virginian families turned a cold shoulder to
Had he been a man of pleasant manners, he would gradually have
made his way; but he was evidently not a gentleman. The habits of
trade stuck to him, and in a very short time there were rumors that
the slaves, whom he had bought with the property, found him a
harsh and cruel master. This in itself would have been sufficient
to bring him disrepute in Virginia, where as a rule the slaves were
treated with great kindness, and indeed considered their position to
be infinitely superior to that of the poorer class of whites. Andrew
Jackson had been for a few months at school with Vincent; he was
unpopular there, and from the rumors current as to the treatment of
the slaves on the estate, was known by the nickname of the
Had Vincent been the son of a white trader, or a small cultivator,
he knew well enough that his position would be a very serious one,
and that he would have had to ride to the border of the State with
all speed. He would have been denounced at once as an
Abolitionist, and would have been accused of stirring up the slaves
to rebellion against their masters; a crime of the most serious kind
in the Southern States. But placed as he was, as the heir of a great
estate worked by slaves, such a cry could hardly be raised against
him. He might doubtless be filled and admonished for interfering
between a master and his slave; but the sympathy of the better
classes in Virginia would be entirely with him. Vincent, therefore,
was but little concerned for himself; but he doubted greatly
whether his interference had not done much more harm than good
to the slave and his wife, for upon them Andrew Jackson would
vent his fury. He rode direct to the stables instead of alighting as
usual at the door. Dan, who had been sitting in the veranda
waiting for him, ran down to the stables as he saw him coming.
"Give the horse to one of the others, Dan; I want to speak to you.
Dan," he went on when he had walked with him a short distance
from the stables, "I suppose you know some of the hands on
Dan grinned, for although there was not supposed to be any
communication between the slaves on the different estates, it was
notorious that at night they were in the habit of slipping out of
their huts and visiting each other.
"I know some ob dem, Massa Vincent. What you want ob dem?
Berry bad master, Massa Jackson. Wust master hereabouts."
Vincent related what had happened, to Dan's intense delight.
"Now, Dan," he went on, "I am afraid that after my interference
they will treat that poor fellow and his wife worse than before. I
want yen to find out for me what is going on at Jackson's. I do not
know that I can do anything, however badly they treat them; but I
have been thinking that if they ill-treat them very grossly, I will get
together a party of fifteen or twenty of my friends and we will go
in a body to Jackson's, and warn him that if he behaves with
cruelty to his slaves, we will make it so hot for him that he will
have to leave the state. I don't say that we could do anything; but
as we should represent most of the large estates round here, I don't
think old Jackson and his son would like being sent to Coventry.
The feeling is very strong at present against ill-treatment of the
slaves. If these troubles lead to war almost all of us will go into
the army, and we do not like the thought of the possibility of
troubles among the hands when the whites are all away."
"I will find out all about it for you to-night, sah. I don't suspect dat
dey will do nuffin to-day. Andrew Jackson too sick after dat knock
against de tump. He keep quiet a day or two."
"Well, Dan, you go over to-night and find out all about it. I expect
I had better have left things alone, but now I have interfered I shall
go on with it."
Mrs. Wingfield was much displeased when Vincent told her at
dinner of his incident at Jackson's plantation and even his sisters
were shocked at this interference between a master and his slave.
"You will get yourself into serious trouble with these fanciful
notions of yours," Mrs. Wingfield said angrily. "You know as well
as I do how easy it is to get up a cry against any one as an
Abolitionist and how difficult to disprove the accusation; and just
at present, when the passions of every man in the South are
inflamed to the utmost, such an accusation will be most serious.
In the present instance there does not seem that there is a shadow
of excuse for your conduct. You simply heard cries of a slave
being flogged. You deliberately leave the road and enter these
people's plantation and interfere without, so far as I can see, the
least reason for doing so. You did not inquire what the man's
offense was; and he may for aught you know have half murdered
his master. You simply see a slave being flogged and you assault
his owner. If the Jacksons lay complaints against you it is quite
probable that you may have to leave the state. What on earth can
have influenced you to act in such a mad-brained way?"
"I did not interfere to prevent his flogging the slave, mother, but to
prevent his flogging the slave's wife, which was pure wanton
brutality. It is not a question of slavery one way or the other. Any
one has a right to interfere to put a stop to brutality. If I saw a man
brutally treating a horse or a dog I should certainly do so; and if it
is right to interfere to save a dumb animal from brutal ill-treatment
surely it must be justifiable to save a woman in the same case. I
am not an Abolitionist. That is to say, I consider that slaves on a
properly managed estate, like ours, for instance, are just as well off
as are the laborers on an estate in Europe; but I should certainly
like to see laws passed to protect them from ill-treatment. Why, in
England there are laws against cruelty to animals; and a man who
brutally flogged a dog or a horse would get a month's
imprisonment with hard labor. I consider it a disgrace to us that a
man may here ill-treat a human being worse than he might in
England a dumb animal."
"You know, Vincent," his mother said more quietly, "that I object
as much as you do to the ill-treatment of the slaves, and that the
slaves here, as on all well-conducted plantations in Virginia, are
well treated; but this is not a time for bringing in laws or carrying
out reforms. It is bad enough to have scores of Northerners doing
their best to stir up mischief between masters and slaves without a
Southern gentleman mixing himself up in the matter. We have got
to stand together as one people and to protect our State rights from
"I am just as much in favor of State rights as any one else, mother;
and if, as seems likely, the present quarrel is to be fought out, I
hope I shall do my best for Virginia as well as other fellows of my
own age. But just as I protest against any interference by the
Northerners with our laws, I say that we ought to amend our laws
so as not to give them the shadow of an excuse for interference. It
is brutes like the Jacksons who have afforded the materials for
libels like 'Uncle Tom's Cabin' upon us as a people; and I can't say
that I am a bit sorry for having given that young Jackson what he
"Well, I hope there will be no trouble come of it," Mrs. Wingfield
said. "I shouldn't think the Jacksons would like the exposure of
their doings which would be caused by bringing the matter into
court; but if they do, you may be quite sure that a jury in
Richmond at the present time would find against you."
"I don't suppose that they will do anything, mother. But if they
must, they must; and I don't suppose anything serious will come of
it any way."
The next morning Vincent went down early to the stables. As he
approached them Dan came out to meet him.
"Well, Dan, what's your news?"
"Berry great bobbery ober at Jackson's last night, Massa Vincent.
Fust of all I crept round to de huts ob de field hands. Dey all know
nuffin bout it; but one of dem he goes off and gets to hab a talk
with a gal employed in de house who was in de habit of slipping
out to see him. She say when de young un war carried in de old
man go on furious; he bring suit against you, he hab you punished
berry much--no saying what he not going to do. After a time de
young un come round, he listen to what the old man say for some
time; den he answer: 'No use going on like dat. Set all de county
families against us if we have suit. As to dat infernal young
villain, me pay him out some other way.' Den de old man say he
cut de flesh off de bones ob dat nigger; but de young one say:
'Mustn't do dat. You sure to hear about it, and make great bobbery.
Find some oder way to punish him.' Den dey talk together for
some time, but girl not hear any more."
"Well, then, there will be no suit anyhow," Vincent said. "As to
paying me out some other way, I will look after myself, Dan. I
believe that fellow Jackson is capable of anything, and I will be on
the lookout for him."
"Be sure you do, Massa Vincent. You ride about a great deal, dat
fellow bery like take a shot at you from behind tree. Don't you go
near dat plantation, or sure enuff trouble come."
"I will look out, Dan. There is one thing, I always ride fast; and it
wants a very good shot to hit one at a gallop. I don't think they
will try that; for if he missed, as he would be almost sure to do, it
would be a good deal worse for him than this affair would have
been had he brought it into court. You keep your ears open, Dan,
and find out how they are thinking of punishing that poor follow
for my interference on his behalf."
After breakfast a negro arrived with a note for Mrs. Wingfield
from Mr. Jackson, complaining of the unwarrantable and illegal
interference by her son on behalf of a slave who was being very
properly punished for gross misconduct; and of the personal
assault upon his son. The writer said that he was most reluctant to
take legal proceedings against a member of so highly respected a
family, but that it was impossible that he could submit to such an
outrage as this.
Although Mrs. Wingfield had expressed her disapproval of
Vincent's conduct on the evening before, there was no trace of that
feeling in her reply to this letter. She wrote in the third person,
coldly acknowledging the receipt of Mr. Jackson's letter, and
saying that she had heard from her son of his interference to put a
stop to one of those brutal scenes which brought discredit upon the
Southern States, and that she considered he had most rightly
punished Mr. Jackson, jun., for his inhuman and revolting conduct;
that she was perfectly aware the interference had been technically
illegal, but that her son was fully prepared to defend his conduct if
called upon to do so in the courts, and to pay any fine that might
be inflicted for his suffering himself to be carried away by his
righteous indignation. She ended by saying that as Mr. Jackson
was a stranger in Virginia, he was perhaps not aware that the
public sentiment of that State was altogether opposed to such acts
of brutality as that of which his son had been guilty.
"What have you been doing to that fellow Andrew Jackson?" one
of Vincent's friends, a young fellow two years older than himself,
said to him a few days later. "There were a lot of us talking over
things yesterday, in Richmond, and he came up and joined in.
Something was said about Abolitionists, and he said that he should
like to see every Abolitionist in the State strung up to a tree. He is
always pretty violent, as you know; but on the present occasion he
went further than usual, and then went on to say that the worst and
most dangerous Abolitionists were not Northern men but
Southerners, who were traitors to their State.
"He said: 'For example, there is that young Wingfield. He has been
to England, and has come back with his heart filled with
Abolitionist notions;' and that such opinions at the present time
were a danger to the State.
"Two or three of us took the matter up, as you might guess, and
told him he had better mind what he was saying or it would be the
worse for him. Harry Furniss went so far as to tell him that he
was a liar, and that if he didn't like that he would have satisfaction
in the usual way. Master Jackson didn't like it, but muttered
something and slunk off. What's the matter between you?"
"I should not have said anything about it," Vincent replied, "if
Jackson had chosen to hold his tongue; but as he chooses to go
about attacking me, there is no reason why I should keep the
matter secret." And he then related what had taken place.
The young Virginian gave a low whistle.
"I don't say I blame you, Wingfield; but I tell you, you might have
got yourself into an awful mess if the Jacksons had chosen to take
it up. You know how hot the feeling is at present, and it is a
serious matter at any time to interfere between a master and his
slaves in the Southern States. Of course among us our feelings
would be all against Jackson; but among the poorer class of
whites, who have been tremendously excited by the speeches, both
in the North and here, the cry of Abolitionist at the present
moment is like a red rag to a bull. However, I understand now the
fellow's enmity to you.
"None of us ever liked him when he was at school with us. He is
an evil-tempered brute, and I am afraid you may have some trouble
with him. If he goes about talking as he did to us, he would soon
get up a feeling against you. Of course it would be nonsense to
openly accuse a member of an old Virginian family of being an
Abolitionist; but it would be easy enough to set a pack of the rough
classes of the town against you, and you might get badly mauled if
they caught you alone. The follow is evidently a coward or he
would have taken up what Furniss said; but a coward who is
revengeful is a good deal more dangerous than an open foe.
However, I will talk it over with some of the others, and we will
see if we can't stop Andrew Jackson's mouth."
The result of this was that the next day half a dozen of Vincent's
friends wrote a joint letter to Andrew Jackson, saying that they
regarded his statements respecting Vincent as false and
calumnious, and that if he repeated them they would jointly and
severally hold him responsible; and that if, as a result of such
accusations, any harm happened to Vincent, they should know
where to look for the originator of the mischief, and punish him
"You should be more careful, Andrew," his father said, as white
with fury, he showed him his letter. "It was you who were
preaching prudence the other day, and warning me against taking
steps that would set all the whole country against us; and now, you
see, you have been letting your tongue run, and have drawn this
upon yourself. Keep quiet for the present, my son; all sorts of
things may occur before long, and you will get your chance. Let
this matter sleep for the present."
A day or two later when Vincent went down to the stables he saw
that Dan had something to tell him, and soon found out that he
wished to speak to him alone.
"What is your news, Dan?"
"I heard last night, Massa Vincent, that old man Jackson is going
to sell Dinah; dat de wife ob de man dey flogged."
"They are going to sell her!" Vincent repeated indignantly. "What
are they going to do that for?"
"To punish Tony, sah. Dar am no law against dar selling her. I
hear dat dey are going to sell two oder boys, so dat it cannot be
said dat dey do it on purpose to spite Tony. I reckon, sah, day
calculate dat when dey sell his wife Tony get mad and run away,
and den when dey catch him again day flog him pretty near to
death. Folk always do dat with runaway slaves; no one can say
nuffin agin dem for dat."
"It's an infamous shame that it should be lawful to separate man
and wife," Vincent said. "However, we will see what we can do.
You manage to pass the word to Tony to keep up his spirits, and
not let them drive him to do anything rash. Tell him I will see that
his wife does not get into bad hands. I suppose they will sell the
"Yes, Massa Vincent. Natural the baby will go wid de modder."
Vincent watched the list of advertisements of slaves to be sold,
and a day or two later saw a notice to the effect that Dinah Morris,
age twenty-two, with a male baby at her breast, would be sold on
the following Saturday. He mounted his horse and rode into
Richmond. He had not liked to speak to his mother on the subject,
for she had not told him of the letter she had written to Jackson;
and he thought that she might disapprove of any interference in the
matter, consequently he went down to Mr. Renfrew, the family
"Mr. Renfrew," he said, "I want some money; can you lend it me?"
"You want money," the solicitor said in surprise. "What on earth
do you want money for? and if you want it, why don't you ask your
mother for it? How much do you want?"
"I don't know exactly. About eight hundred dollars, I should think;
though it may be a thousand. I want to buy a slave."
"You want to buy a slave!" repeated Mr. Renfrew. "What on earth
do you want to buy a slave for? You have more than you want
now at the Orangery."
"It's a slave that man Jackson is going to sell next Saturday, on
purpose to spite the poor creature's husband and drive him to
desperation," and Vincent then repeated the whole story of the
circumstances that had led up to the sale.
"It is all very abominable on the part of these Jacksons," Mr.
Renfrew said, "but your interference was most imprudent, my
young friend; and, as you see, it has done harm rather than good.
If you are so quixotic as to become the champion of every
ill-treated slave in the State, your work is pretty well cut out for
"I know that, sir," Vincent replied, smiling, "and I can assure you I
did not intend to enter upon any such crusade; but, you see, I have
wrongly or rightly mixed myself up in this, and I want to repair the
mischief which, as you say, I have caused. The only way I can see
is to buy this negress and her baby."
"But I do not see that you will carry out your object if you do,
Vincent. She will be separated just as much from her husband if
you buy her as if any one else does. He is at one plantation and
she is at another, and were they ten miles apart or a hundred, they
are equally separated."
"I quite see that, Mr. Renfrew; but, at least, she will be kindly
treated, and his mind will be at rest on that score. Perhaps some
day or other the Jacksons may put him up for sale, and then I can
buy him, and they will be reunited. At any rate, the first step is to
buy her. Can you let me have the money? My mother makes me a
very good allowance."
"And I suppose you spend it," the lawyer interrupted.
"Well, yes, I generally spend it; but then, you see, when I come of
age I come in for the outlying estates."
"And if you die before, or get shot, or any other accident befalls
you," Mr. Renfrew said, "they go to your sisters. However, one
must risk something for a client, so I will lend you the money. I
had better put somebody up to bid for you, for after what has
happened the Jacksons would probably not let her go if they knew
that you were going to be the purchaser."
"Thank you very much," Vincent said warmly; "it will be a great
weight off my mind," and with a light heart he rode back to the
Vincent said nothing during the next two days to any of his friends
as to the course the Jacksons were taking in selling Tony's wife;
for he thought that if the news got about, some of his friends who
had heard the circumstances might go down to the auction and
make such a demonstration that Jackson would be obliged to
withdraw Dinah from the sale, in which case he would no doubt
dispose of her privately. On the Saturday he mounted his horse
and rode into Richmond, telling Dan to meet him there. At the
hour the sale was announced he went to the yard where it was to
This was a somewhat quiet and secluded place; for although the
sale of slaves was permitted by law in Virginia, at any rate these
auctions were conducted quietly and with as little publicity as
possible. For although the better classes still regarded slavery as a
necessary institution, they were conscious that these sales,
involving as they did the separation of families, were indefensible,
and the more thoughtful would gladly have seen them abolished,
and a law passed forbidding the sale of negroes save as part and
parcel of the estate upon which they worked, an exception only
being made in the case of gross misconduct. Many of the
slave-owners, indeed, forbade all flogging upon their estates, and
punished refractory slaves, in the first place, by the cutting off of
the privileges they enjoyed in the way of holidays, and if this did
not answer, threatened to sell them--a threat which was, in the vast
majority of cases, quite sufficient to ensure good behavior; for the
slaves were well aware of the difference between life in the
well-managed establishments in Virginia and that in some of the
other Southern States. Handing his horse to Dan, Vincent joined a
knot of four or five of his acquaintances who had strolled in from
There were some thirty or forty men in the yard, a few of whom
had come in for the purpose of buying; but the great majority had
only attended for the sake of passing an idle hour. Slaves had
fallen in value; for although all in the South professed their
confidence that the law would never attempt by force of arms to
prevent their secession, it was felt that slave property would in
future be more precarious, for the North would not improbably
repeal the Jaws for the arrest of fugitive slaves, and consequently
all runaways who succeeded in crossing the border would be lost
to their masters.
Upon the other side of the yard Vincent saw Andrew Jackson
talking to two or three men who were strangers to him, and who,
he guessed, were buyers from some of the more southern States
There were in all twelve lots to be disposed of. Of these two or
three were hands who were no longer fit for field work, and who
were bought at very low prices by men who owned but a few acres
of land, and who could utilize them for odd jobs requiring but little
strength. Then there was a stir of attention. Dinah Moore took her
stand upon the platform, with her baby in her arms. The message
which Dan had conveyed from Vincent to her husband had given
her some hope, and though she looked scared and frightened as she
clasped her babe to her breast, she was not filled with such utter
despair as would otherwise have been the case.
The auctioneer stated the advantages of the lot in the same
business-like tone as if he had been selling a horse:
"Lot 6. Negro wench, Dinah; age twenty-two; with male child.
Strong and well made, as you see, gentlemen; fit for field work, or
could be made a useful hand about a house; said to be handy and
good-tempered. Now, gentlemen, what shall we say for this
One of the men standing by Andrew Jackson bid a hundred dollars.
The bid was raised to a hundred and fifty by a rough-looking
fellow standing in front of the platform. For some time the bidding
was confined to these two, and it rose until it reached seven
hundred and fifty, at which point the man near the platform retired,
and there was a pause.
Vincent felt uncomfortable. He had already been round to Mr.
Renfrew, who had told him that he had deputed an agent to buy;
and until the man near the platform stopped he had supposed that
he was the solicitor's agent.
"Now, gentlemen," the auctioneer said, "surely you are not going
to let this desirable piece of property go for seven fifty? She would
be cheap at double the price. I have sold worse articles for three
"I will go another twenty-five dollars," a tall man in homespun and
a broad planter's straw hat said quietly.
The contest now recommenced, and by bids of twenty-five dollars
at a time the amount was raised to twelve hundred and fifty
"That's enough for me," the man standing by Andrew Jackson said;
"he may have her at twelve fifty, and dear enough, too, as times
"Will any one else make an offer?" the auctioneer asked. There was
no response, and the hammer fell.
"Nathaniel Forster," the tall man said; and advancing to the table
he counted out a roll of notes and gave them to the auctioneer,
who handed to him a formal note certifying to his having duly and
legally purchased Dinah Moore and her infant, late the property of
Andrew Jackson, Esquire, of the Cedars, State of Virginia.
The purchaser had evidently made up his mind beforehand to
secure the lot, for he handed a parcel he had been holding to
Dinah, and said briefly, "Slip those things on, my lass."
The poor girl, who had before been simply attired in the scantiest
of petticoats, retired to a corner of the yard, and speedily came
forward again dressed in a neat cotton gown. There were several
joking remarks made by the bystanders, but Dinah's new master
took no notice of them, but with a motion of his hand to her to
follow him, walked out of the yard.
A minute later Vincent followed, and although he had no doubt
that the man was the agent Mr. Renfrew had employed, he did not
feel thoroughly satisfied until he saw them enter the lawyer's
office. He quickly followed. They had just entered the private
room of Mr. Renfrew.
"That's right, Wingfield," the lawyer said. "You see we have
settled the business satisfactorily, and I think you have got a fairly
cheap bargain. Just wait a moment and we will complete the
Dinah gave a start as Vincent entered, but with the habitual
self-repression of a slave she stood quietly in the corner to which
she had withdrawn at the other end of the room.
The lawyer was busy drawing up a document, and touching the
bell ordered a clerk to go across to Mr. Rawlins, justice of the
peace, and ask him to step across the road.
In a minute Mr. Rawlins entered.
"I want you to witness a deed of sale of a slave," Mr. Renfrew said.
"Here are the particulars: 'Nathaniel Forster sells to Vincent
Wingfield his slave, Dinah Moore and her male infant, for the sum
of fourteen hundred dollars.' These are the parties. Forster sign this
The man did so. The justice put his signature as witness to the
transaction, dropped into his pocket the fee of five dollars that the
lawyer handed to him, and without a word strolled out again.
"There, Dinah," Mr. Renfrew said, "Mr. Wingfield is now your
The girl ran forward, fell on her knees before Vincent, seized his
hand and kissed it, sobbing out her thanks as she did so.
"There, that will do, Dinah," the lawyer said, seeing that Vincent
was confused by her greeting. "I think you are a lucky girl, and
have made a good exchange for the Orangery instead of the
Cedars. I don't suppose you will find Mr. Wingfield a very hard
master. What he is going to do with you I am sure I don't know."
Vincent now went to the door and called in Dan and told him to
take Dinah to the Orangery, then mounting his horse he rode off
home to prepare his mother for the reception of his new purchase.
CHAPTER III. AIDING A RUNAWAY.
"Well, you are an extraordinary boy, Vincent," Mrs. Wingfield
said as her son told her the story, while his sisters burst into fits of
laughter at the idea of Vincent owning a female slave with a baby.
"Why did you not tell me that you wanted the money instead of
going to Mr. Renfrew? I shall tell him I am very angry with him
for letting you have it for such a purpose."
"I was not sure whether you would let me have it, mother; and if
you had refused, and I had got it afterward from Mr. Renfrew, I
should not have liked to bring her home here."
"That would have been fun," Annie said. "Fancy Vincent's
troubles with a female slave on his hands and nowhere to put her.
What would you have done, Vincent?"
"I suppose I could have got a home for her somewhere," Vincent
said quietly. "I don't think there would have been any difficulty
about that. Still I am glad I didn't have to do so, and one slave
more or less can make no difference here."
"Not at all," Mrs. Wingfield said; "I dare say Chloe will find
something for her to do in the way of washing, and such other light
work that she is fit for about the house. It is not that, but it is years
since a slave was brought into the Orangery; never since I can
remember. We raise more than we want ourselves; and when I see
all those children about, I wonder sometimes what on earth we are
to find for them all to do. Still, it was a scandalous thing of that
man Jackson selling the girl to punish her husband; and as you say
it was your foolish interference in the matter that brought it about,
so I do not know that I can blame you for doing what you can to
set the matter straight. Still, except that the knowledge that she is
here and will be well treated will be a comfort to the man, I do not
see that he will be much the better off, unless indeed the Jacksons
should try to sell him also, in which case I suppose you would
want to buy him."
"I am afraid they won't do that, mother. Still, somehow or other,
in time they may come together again."
"I don't see how they can, Vincent. However we need not think of
that now. At any rate I hope there will be no further opportunity
for your mixing yourself up in this business. You have made two
bitter enemies now, and although I do not see that such people as
these can do you any harm, it is always well not to make enemies,
especially in times like these when no one can foresee exactly
what may occur."
And so Dinah Moore became an inmate of the Orangery; and
though the girls had laughed at their brother, they were very kind
to her when she arrived with Dan, and made much of her and of
her baby. The same night Dan went over to the Cedars, and
managed to have an interview with Tony, and to tell him that his
wife had been bought by Vincent. The joy of the negro was
extreme. The previous message had raised his hopes that Vincent
would succeed in getting her bought by some one who would be
kind to her, but he knew well that she might nevertheless fall to
the lot of some higher bidder and be taken hundreds of miles away,
and that he might never again get news of her whereabouts. He
had then suffered terrible anxiety all day, and the relief of learning
that Vincent himself had bought her, and that she was now
installed as a house servant at the Orangery, but a few miles away,
was quite overpowering, and for some minutes he could only gasp
out his joy and thankfulness. He could hope now that when better
times came he might be able to steal away some night and meet
her, and that some day er other, though how he could not see, they
might be reunited. The Jacksons remained in ignorance that their
former slave was located so near to them.
It was for this reason that Mr. Renfrew had instructed his agent to
buy her in his own name instead of that of Vincent; and the
Jacksons, having no idea of the transfer that had subsequently
taken place, took no further interest in the matter, believing that
they had achieved their object of torturing Tony, and avenging
upon him the humiliation that Andrew had suffered at Vincent's
hands. Had they questioned their slaves, and had these answered
them truly, they would have discovered the facts. For although
Tony himself said no word to any one of what he had learned from
Dan, the fact that Dinah was at the Orangery was speedily known
among the slaves; for the doings at one plantation were soon
conveyed to the negroes on the others by the occasional visits
which they paid at night to each other's quarters, or to some
common rendezvous far removed from interruption.
Occasionally Tony and Dinah met. Dan would come up late in the
evening to the house, and a nod to Dinah would be sufficient to
send her flying down the garden to a clump of shrubs, where he
would be waiting for her. At these stolen meetings they were
perfectly happy; for Tony said no word to her of the misery of his
life--how he was always put to the hardest work and beaten on the
smallest pretext, how in fact his life was made so unendurable that
the idea of running away and taking to the swamps was constantly
present to him.
As to making his way north, it did not enter his mind as possible.
Slaves did indeed at times succeed in traveling through the
Northern States and making their way to Canada, but this was only
possible by means of the organization known as the underground
railway, an association consisting of a number of good people who
devoted themselves to the purpose, giving shelter to fugitive
slaves during the day, and then passing them on to the next refuge
during the night. For in the Northern States as well as the
Southern any negro unprovided with papers showing that he was a
free man was liable to be arrested and sent back to the South a
prisoner, large rewards being given to those who arrested them.
As he was returning from one of these interviews with his wife,
Tony was detected by the overseer, who was strolling about round
the slaves' quarters, and was next morning flogged until he became
insensible. So terrible was the punishment that for some days he
was unable to walk. As soon as he could get about he was again
set to work, but the following morning he was found to be missing.
Andrew Jackson at once rode into Richmond, and in half an hour
placards and handbills were printed offering a reward for his
capture. These were not only circulated in the neighborhood, but
were sent off to all the towns and villages through which Tony
might be expected to pass in the endeavor to make his way north.
Vincent soon learned from Dan what had taken place.
"You have no idea, I suppose, Dan, as to which way he is likely to
Dan shook his head.
"Me suppose, massa, dat most likely he gone and hidden in de
great woods by de James River. Berry difficult to find him dere."
"Difficult to find him, no doubt," Vincent agreed. "But he could
not stop there long--he would find nothing to eat in the woods; and
though he might perhaps support himself for a time on corn or
roots from the clearings scattered about through the James
Peninsula, he must sooner or later be caught."
"Dar are runaways in de woods now, Massa Vincent," Dan said;
"some ob dem hab been dar for month."
"But how do they live, Dan?"
"Well, sah, you see dey hab friends on de plantations, and
sometimes at night one of de slaves will steal away wid a basket
ob yams and corn-cakes and oder things and put dem down in a
certain place in de forest, and next morning, sure enough, dey will
be gone. Dangerous work dat, massa; because if dey caught with
food, it known for sure dat dey carry it to runaway, and den you
know dey pretty well flog the life out of dem."
"Yes, I know, Dan; it is a very serious matter hiding a runaway
slave, and even a white man would be very heavily punished, and
perhaps lynched, if caught in the act. Well, make what inquiries
you can among the slaves, and find out if you can whether any of
those Jacksons have an idea which way Tony has gone. But do not
go yourself on to Jackson's place; if you were caught there now it
would be an awkward matter for both of us."
"I will find out, Massa Vincent; but I don't s'pose Tony said a word
to any of the others. He know well enough dat de Jacksons
question ebery one pretty sharp, and perhaps flog dem all round to
find out if dey know anything. He keep it to himself about going
away for suah."
The Jacksons kept up a vigorous hunt after their slave and day
after day parties of men ranged through the woods but without
discovering any traces of him. Bloodhounds were employed the
first day, but before these could be fetched from Richmond the
scent had grown cold; for Tony had gone off as soon as the slaves
had been shut up for the night and had, directly he left the hut,
wrapped leaves round his feet, therefore the hounds, when they
arrived from Richmond, were unable to take up the scent.
A week after Tony's escape, Vincent returned late one evening
from a visit to some friends. Dan, as he took his horse, whispered
to him: "Stop a little on your way to house, Massa Vincent; me hab
something to tell you."
"What is it, Dan?" Vincent asked, as the lad, after putting up his
horse in the stable, came running up to him.
"Me have seen Tony, sah. He in de shrubs ober dar. He want to
see Dinah, but me no take message till me tell you about him. He
half starved, sah; me give him some yams."
"That's right, Dan."
"He pretty nigh desperate, sah; he say dey hunt him like wild
"I will see him, Dan. If I can help him in any way I will do so.
Unfortunately I do not know any of the people who help to get
slaves away, so I can give him no advice as to the best way to
proceed. Still I might talk it over with him. When I have joined
him, do you go up to the house and tell Chloe from me to give you
a pile of corn-cake--it's no use giving him flour, for he would be
afraid to light a fire to cook it. Tell her to give you, too, any cold
meat there may be in the house. Don't tell Dinah her husband is
here till we have talked the matter over."
Dan led Vincent up to a clump of bushes.
"It am all right, Tony," he said; "here is Massa Vincent come to see
The bushes parted and Tony came out into the full moonlight. He
looked haggard and worn; his clothes were torn into strips by the
"My poor fellow," Vincent said kindly, "I am sorry to see you in
such a state."
A great sob broke from the black
"De Lord bress you, sah, for your goodness and for saving Dinah
from de hands of dose debils! Now she safe wid you and de child,
Tony no care berry much what come to him--de sooner he dead de
better. He wish dat one day when dey flog him dey had kill him
altogether; den all de trouble at an end. Dey hunt him ebery day
with dogs and guns, and soon dey catch him. No can go on much
longer like dis. To-day me nearly gib myself up. Den me thought
me like to see Dinah once more to say good-by, so make great
effort and ran a bit furder."
"I have been thinking whether it would be possible to plan some
way for your escape, Tony."
The negro shook his head.
"Dar never escape, sah, but to get to Canada; dat too far any way.
Not possible to walk all dat way and get food by de road. Suah to
"No, I do not think it will be possible to escape that way, Tony.
The only possible plan would be to get you on board some ship
going to England."
"Ships not dare take negro on board," Tony said. "Me heard dat
said many times--dat against de law."
"Yes, I know it's against the law," Vincent said, "and it's against
the law my talking to you here, Tony; but you see it's done. The
difficulty is how to do it. All vessels are searched before they
start, and an officer goes down with them past Fortress Monroe to
see that they take no one on board. Still it is possible. Of course
there is risk in the matter; but there is risk in everything. I will
think it over. Do not lose heart. Dan will be back directly with
enough food to last you for some days. If I were you I would take
refuge this time in White Oak Swamp. It is much nearer, and I
hear it has already been searched from end to end, so they are not
likely to try again; and if you hear them you can, if you are
pressed, cross the Chickahominy and make down through the
woods. Do you come again on Saturday evening--that will give me
four days to see what I can do. I may not succeed, you know; for
the penalty is so severe against taking negroes on board that I may
not be able to find any one willing to risk it. But it is worth
"De Lord bless you, sah!" Tony said. "I will do juss what you tole
me; but don't you run no risks for me, my life ain't worth dat."
"I will take care, Tony. And now here comes Dan with the
"Can I see Dinah, sah?" Tony pleaded.
"I think you had better not," Vincent replied. "You see the
Jacksons might at any moment learn that she is here, and then she
might be questioned whether she had seen you since your escape;
and it would be much better for her to be able to deny having done
so. But you shall see her next time you come, whether I am able to
make any arrangements for your escape or not. I will let her know
to-morrow morning that I have seen you, and that you are safe at
The next morning Vincent rode over to City Point, where ships
with a large draught of water generally brought up, either
transferring their goods into smaller craft to be sent up by river to
Richmond, or to be carried on by rail through the town of
Petersburg. Leaving his horse at a house near the river, he crossed
the James in a boat to City Point. There were several vessels lying
here, and for some hours he hung about the wharf watching the
process of discharging. By the end of that time he had obtained a
view of all the captains, and had watched them as they gave their
orders, and had at last come to the conclusion as to which would
be the most likely to suit his purpose. Having made up his mind,
he waited until the one he had fixed upon came ashore. He was a
man of some five-and-thirty years old, with a pleasant face and
good-natured smile. He first went into some offices on the wharf,
and half an hour later came out and walked toward the
railway-station. Vincent at once followed him, and as he overtook
"I want very much to speak to you, sir, if you could spare me a
minute or two."
"Certainly," the sailor said with some surprise. "The train for
Petersburg does not go for another half hour. What can I do for
"My name is Vincent Wingfield. My father was an English
officer, and my mother is the owner of some large estates near
Richmond. I am most anxious to get a person in whom I am
interested on board ship, and I do not know how to set about it."
"There's no difficulty about that," the captain said smiling; "you
have only to go to an office and pay for his passage to where he
wants to go."
"I can't do that," Vincent replied; "for unfortunately it is against the
law for any captain to take him."
"You mean he is a negro?" the captain asked, stopping short in his
walk and looking sharply at Vincent.
"Yes, that is what I mean," Vincent said. "He is a negro who has
been brutally ill-treated and has run away from his master, and I
would willingly give five hundred dollars to get him safely away."
"This is a very serious business in which you are meddling, young
sir," the sailor said. "Putting aside the consequences to yourself,
you are asking me to break the law and to run the risk of the
confiscation of my ship. Even if I were willing to do what you
propose it would be impossible, for the ship will be searched from
end to end before the hatches are closed, and an official will be on
board until we discharge the pilot after getting well beyond the
mouth of the river."
"Yes, I know that," Vincent replied; "but my plan was to take a
boat and go out beyond the sight of land, and then to put him on
board after you have got well away."
"That might be managed, certainly," the captain said. "It would be
contrary to my duty to do anything that would risk the property of
my employers; but if when I am out at sea a boat came alongside,
and a passenger came on board, it would be another matter. I
suppose, young gentleman, that you would not interfere in such a
business, and run the risk that you certainly would run if detected,
unless you were certain that this was a deserving case, and that the
man has committed no sort of crime; for I would not receive on
board my ship a fugitive from justice, whether he was black or
"It is indeed a deserving case," Vincent said earnestly. "The poor
fellow has the misfortune of belonging to one of the worst masters
in the State. He has been cruelly flogged on many occasions, and
was finally driven to run away by their selling his wife and child."
"The brutes!" the sailor said. "How you people can allow such
things to be done is a mystery to me. Well, lad, under those
circumstances I will agree to do what you ask me, and if your boat
comes alongside when I am so far away from land that it cannot be
seen, I will take the man to England."
"Thank you very much indeed," Vincent said; "you will be doing a
good action. Upon what day do you sail?"
"I shall drop down on Monday into Hampton Roads, and shall get
up sail at daylight next morning. I shall pass Fortress Monroe at
about seven in the morning, and shall sail straight out."
"And how shall I know your ship?" Vincent asked. "There may be
others starting just about the same time."
The sailor thought for a moment. "When I am four or five miles
out I will hoist my owner's flag at the foremast-head. It is a red
flag with a white ball, so you will be able to make it out a
considerable distance away. You must not be less than ten or
twelve miles out, for the pilot often does not leave the ship till she
is some miles past Fortress Monroe, and the official will not leave
the ship till he does. I will keep a sharp lookout for you, but I
cannot lose my time in waiting. If you do not come alongside I
shall suppose that you have met with some interruption to your
"Thank you very much, sir. Unless something goes wrong I shall
be alongside on Tuesday."
"That's settled, then," the captain said, "and I must be off, or else I
shall lose my train. By the way, when you come alongside do not
make any sign that you have met me before. It is just as well that
none of my crew should know that it is a planned thing, for if we
ever happened to put in here again they might blab about it, and it
is just as well not to give them the chance. Good-by, my lad; I
hope that all will go well. But, you know, you are doing a very
risky thing; for the assisting of a runaway slave to escape is about
as serious an offense as you can commit in these parts. You might
shoot half a dozen men and get off scot free, but if you were
caught aiding a runaway to escape there is no saying what might
come of it."
After taking leave of the captain, Vincent recrossed the river and
rode home. He had friends whose fathers' estates bordered some
on the James and others on the York River, and all of these had
pleasure-boats. It was obviously better to go down the York River,
and thence round to the mouth of the James at Fortress Monroe, as
the traffic on the York was comparatively small, and it was
improbable that he would be noticed either going down or
returning. He had at first thought of hiring a fishing-boat from
some of the free negroes who made their living on the river. But
he finally decided against this; for the fact of the boat being absent
so long would attract its owner's attention, and in case any
suspicion arose that the fugitive had escaped by water, the hiring
of a boat by one who had already befriended the slave, and its
absence for so long a time, would be almost certain to cause
suspicion to be directed toward him. He therefore decided upon
borrowing a boat from a friend, and next morning rode to the
plantation of the father of Harry Furniss, this being situated on a
convenient position on the Pamunkey, one of the branches of the
"Are you using that sailing-boat of yours at present, Harry?
Because, if not, I wish you would let me have the use of it for a
week or so."
"With pleasure, Vincent; and my fishing-lines and nets as well, if
you like. We very seldom use the boat. Do you mean to keep it
here or move it higher up the river, where it would be more handy
for you, perhaps?"
"I think I would rather leave it here, Furniss. A mile or two extra
to ride makes no difference. I suppose it's in the water?"
"Yes; at the foot of the boathouse stairs. There is a padlock and
chain. I will give you the key, so you can go off whenever you like
without bothering to come up to the house. If you just call in at
the stable as you ride by, one of the boys will go down with you
and take your horse and put him up till you come back again."
"That will do capitally," Vincent replied. "It is some time since I
was on the water, and I seem to have a fancy for a change at
present. One is sick of riding into Richmond and hearing nothing
but politics talked of all day. Don't be alarmed if you hear at any
time that the boat has not come back at night, for if tide and wind
are unfavorable at any time I might stop at Cumberland for the
"I have often had to do that," Furniss said. "Besides, if you took it
away for a week, I don't suppose any one would notice it; for no
one goes down to the boathouse unless to get the boat ready for a
The next day Vincent rode over to his friend's plantation, sending
Dan off an hour beforehand to bail out the boat and get the masts
and sails into her from the boathouse. The greater part of the next
two days was spent on the water, sometimes sailing, sometimes
fishing. The evening of the second of these days was that upon
which Vincent had arranged to meet Tony again, and an hour after
dark he went down through the garden to the stable; for that was
the time the fugitive was to meet him, for he could not leave his
place of concealment until night fell. After looking at the horses,
and giving some instructions to the negroes in charge, he returned
to the shrubbery, and, sending Dan up to summon Dinah, he went
to the bushes where he had before met Tony. The negro came out
as he approached.
"How are you, Tony?"
"Much better dan I was, massa. I hab not been disturbed since I
saw you, and, thanks to dat and to de good food and to massa's
kind words, I'm stronger and better now, and ready to do whatever
massa think best."
"Well, Tony, I am glad to say that I think I have arranged a plan by
which you will be got safely out of the country. Of course, it may
fail; but there is every hope of success. I have arranged for a boat,
and shall take you down the river, and put you on board a ship
bound for England."
The black clapped his hands in delight at the news.
"When you get there you will take another ship out to Canada, and
as soon as I learn from you that you are there, and what is your
address, I will give Dinah her papers of freedom and send her on to
"Oh, massa, it is too much," Tony said, with the tears running
down his cheeks; "too much joy altogeder."
"Well, I hope it will all come right, Tony. Dinah will be here in a
minute or two. Do not keep her long, for I do not wish her absence
from the house to be observed just now. Now, listen to my
instructions. Do you know the plantation of Mr. Furniss, on the
Pamunkeyunky, near Coal harbor?"
"No, sir; but me can find out."
"No, you can't; because you can't see any one or ask questions.
Very well, then, you must be here again to-morrow night at the
same hour. Dan will meet you here, and act as your guide. He will
presently bring you provisions for to-morrow. Be sure you be
careful, Tony, and get back to your hiding-place as soon as you
can, and be very quiet to-morrow until it is time to start. It would
be terrible if you were to be caught now, just as we have arranged
for you to get away."
On the following afternoon Vincent told his mother that he was
going over that evening to his friend Furniss, as an early start was
to be made next morning; they intended to go down the river as far
as Yorktown, if not further; that be certainly should not be back
for two days, and probably might be even longer.
"This new boating freak of yours, Vincent, seems to occupy all
your thoughts. I wonder how long it will last."
"I don't suppose it will last much longer, mother," Vincent said
with a laugh. "Anyhow, it will make a jolly change for a week.
One had got so sick of hearing nothing talked about but secession
that a week without hearing the word mentioned will do one lots
of good, and I am sure I felt that if one had much more of it, one
would be almost driven to take up the Northern side just for the
sake of a change."
"We should all disown you, Vin," Annie said, laughing; "we should
have nothing to say to you, and you would be cut by all your
"Well, you see, a week's sailing and fishing will save me from all
that, Annie; and I be all be able to begin again with a fresh stock of
"I believe you are only half in earnest in the cause, Vincent," his
mother said gravely.
"I am not indeed, mother. I quite agree with what you and every
one say as to the rights of the State of Virginia, and if the North
should really try to force us and the other Southern States to
remain with them, I shall be just as ready to do everything I can as
any one else; but I can't see the good of always talking about it,
and I think it's very wrong to ill-treat and abuse those who think
the other way. In England in the Civil War the people of the towns
almost all thought one way, and almost all those of the counties
the other, and even now opinions differ almost as widely as to
which was right. I hate to hear people always laying down the law
as if there could not possibly be two sides of the case, and as if
every one who differed from them must be a rascal and a traitor.
Almost all the fellows I know say that if it comes to fighting they
shall go into the State army, and I should be quite willing, if they
would really take fellows of my age for soldiers, to enlist too; but
that is no reason why one should not get sick of hearing nothing
but one subject talked of for weeks."
It was nearly dark when Vincent started for his walk of ten miles;
for he had decided not to take his horse with him, as he had no
means of sending it back, and its stay for three days in his friend's
stables would attract attention to the fact of his long absence.
After about three hours' walking he reached the boat house,
having seen no one as he passed through the plantation. He took
the oars and sails from the boathouse and placed them in the boat,
and then sat down in the stern to await the coming of the negroes.
In an hour they arrived; Tony carrying a bundle of clothes that
Dan had by Vincent's orders bought for him in Richmond, while
Dan carried a large basket of provisions. Vincent gave an
exclamation of thankfulness as he saw the two figures appear, for
the day having been Sunday he knew that a good many men would
be likely to join the search parties in hopes of having a share in the
reward offered for Tony's capture, and he had felt very anxious all
"You sit in the bottom of the boat, Tony, and do you steer, Dan.
You make such a splashing with your oar that we should be heard
a mile away. Keep us close in shore in the shadow of the trees; the
less we are noticed the better at this time of night."
Taking the sculls, Vincent rowed quietly away. He had often been
out on boating excursions with his friends, and had learned to row
fairly. During the last two days he had diligently instructed Dan,
and after two long days' work the young negro had got over the
first difficulties, but he was still clumsy and awkward. Vincent
did not exert himself. He knew he had a long night's row before
him, and he paddled quietly along with the stream. The boat was a
good-sized one, and when not under sail was generally rowed by
two strong negroes accustomed to the work.
Sometimes for half an hour at a time Vincent ceased rowing, and
let the boat drift along quietly. There was no hurry, for he had a
day and two nights to get down to the month of the river, a
distance of some seventy miles, and out to sea far enough to
intercept the vessel. At four o'clock they arrived at Cumberland,
where the Pamunkey and Mattapony Rivers unite and form the
York River. Here they were in tidal waters; and as the tide, though
not strong, was flowing up, Vincent tied the boat to the branch of a
tree, and lay down in the bottom for an hour's sleep, telling Dan to
wake him when the tide turned, or if he heard any noise. Day had
broken when the boat drifted round, and Dan aroused him.
The boat was rowed off to the middle of the river, as there could
be no longer any attempt at concealment. Dan now took the bow
oar, and they rowed until a light breeze sprang up. Vincent then
put up the mast, and, having hoisted the sail, took his place at
the helm, while Dan went forward into the bow. They passed several
fishing-boats, and the smoke was seen curling up from the huts in the
clearings scattered here and there along the shore. The sun had now
risen, and its heat was pleasant after the damp night air.
Although the breeze was light, the boat made fair way with the
tide, and when the ebb ceased at about ten o'clock the mouth of the
river was but a few miles away. The mast was lowered and the
sails stowed. The boat was then rowed into a little creek and tied
up to the bushes. The basket of provisions was opened, and a