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First edition, 2000
Academic Affairs Library, UNC-CH
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill,
(title page) Jamie Parker, the Fugitive
Mrs. Emily Catharine Pierson,
192 p., ill.
BROCKETT, FULLER, AND CO., No. 219 MAIN STREET.
Call number 813.39 p624j (Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library, Duke University)
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"There is no flesh in man's obdurate heart,
It does not feel for man; the natural bond
Of brotherhood is severed as the flax
That falls asunder at the touch of fire.
He finds his fellow guilty of a skin
Not colored like his own; and having power
To enforce the wrong for such a worthy cause,
Dooms and devotes him as his lawful prey."
THE materials of this sketch were gathered during a residence at the South. Pleasant reminiscences of kind friends there, render it impossible for the writer to cherish sectional prejudices. Like many southerners, however, she can not shut her eyes to the deformity of that Power that casts so dark a shade of guilt on our land. Cradled among New England hills and with hearty sympathies for the heroes of freedom of all ages, and of every country, she can not view unmoved the life-and-death struggles of those now flying from a degrading servitude.
It is believed that very few, for a moment, even in imagination, enter the cabin of the poor man at the South, putting their soul in his soul's stead--much less dwelling on the minute and ever-repeated details of his life of toil and privation. And although thousands of this class have shown themselves to be men with great souls, by their aspirations for liberty; although they
have proved themselves noble heroes by "struggling with misfortunes as with a load," by invincibly conquering an opposing army of difficulties--
"Breasting the dark storm; the red bolt defying;"
surmounting all, and gaining the glorious boon of freedom; yet how few of us have followed with our kind sympathies, even one of these wonderful overcomers, in his perilous course of honorable achievement.
To give a glimpse of the distresses of the poor southern laborer, and of the stern struggler for freedom, the writer launches her little work on the sea of Public Opinion. May it plead effectually for the hunted outcast, and for the three millions of our enslaved countrymen.
LOVERS OF LIBERTY,
AND TO ALL
WHO HAVE HEARTS TO SYMPATHIZE
IS AFFECTIONATELY INSCRIBED.
The planter's advertisement. Some account of Jamie. Old Scipio. Hog Minder General. Inventory of Jamie's family. Sketch of old Scipio. His cabin. Old Agga. The slave preacher. The key of knowledge withheld.
OUR hero is most naturally introduced by his master, in the following advertisement:
"$100 REWARD. Ran away from the subscriber, on Tuesday, Sept. 1st, my negro man, JAMIE PARKER. His complexion is rather light; he is five feet eleven inches in height, well proportioned, converses well, has a pleasing countenance, and as his appearance is favorable, will doubtless seek to pass for a free man. He is supposed to be about 22 years of age. He wore away kersey waistcoat and pants, somewhat ragged, with an old blue frock-coat. It is supposed that he is secreted in the woods in this vicinity, or making his way to the great traveled route for the North. As he went without provocation, he will doubtless endeavor to get to a free State.
"The above reward will be paid to any person who may apprehend and secure said servant, so that I can get him again, if taken beyond the limits of this State, and fifty dollars if taken within this State.
"GEORGE WHITELY."REDFIELD, VA., Sept. 2d, 18--."
Jamie Parker was a native Virginian, and until about twenty-one years of age, was attached to a plantation in--county, on the James' river. The owner of this plantation we will call Charles Chadwick, and the plantation itself, Monmouth. Jamie was descended from an illustrious line, as his fathers were kings in Africa. The first of the family that was captured and sold, died of a broken spirit, while his little son, Scipio, more unfortunate, lived to be a slave. This Scipio was grandfather to Jamie. The earliest years of Jamie were the happiest he spent in slavery; for regular slave-tasks were not assigned him until he was eight years old. On the Monmouth estate, this was the age at which children were considered capable of commencing field-work. It was also the regulation on this plantation, that no child should draw any allowance of food until old enough to work. Now as all the farm people of the plantation went regularly to Monmouth House for their monthly rations, which barely sufficed for themselves, it was no trifling inconvenience to have no provision made for their little ones. Our Jamie, who was the third child of John and Jinny, might often be seen, with his half-clad brothers and sisters, seeking food in the forest, ash-pones* * Ash-pones are made of corn-meal, mixed with salt and water, to the necessary consistency, shaped and baked in the ashes.
being too scarce for the
* Ash-pones are made of corn-meal, mixed with salt and water, to the necessary consistency, shaped and baked in the ashes.
father and mother to satisfy their hunger. But they bore the deprivation very patiently, doubtless thinking themselves as happy as the birds and squirrels, with whom they gained a scanty subsistence, sharing their berries and nuts. Blithe and joyous they were nevertheless, at times, for childhood is mirthful, and how could they realize a tithe of the sorrows of slavery? Yet it must be admitted that Jamie and his little associates often felt the pitiless pinchings of hunger; and the time went by, oh how wearily! for the father and mother being in the field the live-long day, their children must amuse and take care of themselves as best they could.
The "Negro Quarter" (such was the appellation of the little hamlet of the farm people) of the Monmouth plantation, was bordered on one side by a forest, which belonged to the estate. In the center of this forest, which was six miles in circuit, dwelt old Scipio, grandfather of Jamie. He was superannuated, and it was his business, since he was too infirm for field-work, to take charge of the hogs belonging to the establishment, forty or fifty in number. Before old Scipio's log-house was a partial clearing, and it was there, at stated times, that he called together the whole herd, to feed them, and see that none were missing; for this purpose he was accustomed to blow a tin horn. Old Scipio was
no less a personage than the "Hog Minder General;" so he was called, and in this capacity was he entered on the "Inventory" taken yearly by the "overseer." At this time, Jamie being six years old, a part of the inventory read thus:
"SCIPIO, Hog Minder General; supposed age 70.
AGGA, wife to Scipio, old and useless; to be employed in any way to be kept from idleness; supposed age 68.
JINNY, working-woman, child of Agga; supposed age 32.
And thus the inventory went on, giving the name, occupation, and supposed age of all the slaves on the plantation. Then followed a list of the household and kitchen furniture, stock, plantation utensils, &c.
The "first families in Virginia," descendants of the English, have coats of arms, genealogies, and carefully-kept records in their old family bibles. The African Virginians, too, have a carefully-written genealogy, kept after the most approved system of slave-heraldry; the overseer himself being the Herald, or King at Arms. Aye, they have pedigree, title, and rank; they have caste with the plantation stock; are classified with chairs
and tables, stoves and kettles, beds and bedding; all goods and chattels under the immediate supervision of the overseer!
We can not refrain from giving a sketch of good old Scipio. When young, he was full six feet in height, but now somewhat bowed, through toil and age. His hair was wooly-white; his head and features indicated no ordinary mind. His natural superiority gave a certain dignity to his air, with which slavery could not intermeddle. He had the confidence of his master and mistress, the respect of the overseer, and the love of the farm people, to whom he sustained somewhat the relation of Patriarch. He meekly bowed to the trying allotment of his condition, for he had other than earthly hopes. He was considered the main stay of the plantation, as he had an unbounded influence over his fellow-bondmen, and never encouraged rebellion or revolt. More work was done, and in better order, on Monmouth plantation, than on any other farm in the vicinity, and this was justly attributed to the good moral influence of Scipio, which rendered the people docile, and diligent in business.
As we have said, he lived in a comfortable log-cabin, in the recesses of Monmouth forest; and just about it, there was enough of a clearing among the ancient
trees, to admit the sun's rays some two or three hours of the day. In the rear of the dwelling, several oaks formed an impenetrable shade, and certain hollies and laurels wove an evergreen hedge. This fastness was a great resort of the wild-wood warblers, being frequented by the mocking-bird and the Virginia red-bird, who, doubtless, agreed to supply the wood with music.
Old Scipio's cabin had two rooms, a sleeping apartment, and a kitchen. Extending across one side of the latter was a huge fire-place, composed of logs and clay. So large was it, that the Hog Minder General could sit in one corner of it of a winter's evening, and gaze at the sky; old Agga, the while, sitting in the opposite corner, ceaselessly knitting, while her dim eyes tried to spell out the fire. And this may serve as an illustration of the difference between them. Scipio looked above, with a soul at perfect peace, stayed on God. His tranquil mind was like the cloudless sky. Agga's gaze was downward. In the inventory she was labeled "old and useless;" justly, for the light of hope was all extinct within her. At best, her fate had been dim. Lacking the rich consolation possessed by Scipio, the chains of slavery were more galling to her. Ah, who shall tell the weight of woe crushing her for long weary years? Old in the midst of her days, the light and joy of her
existence went out, when two loved children were torn from her frantic embrace, and sent to the sugar plantations of the far southwest! Now she was not only "useless," but in a measure helpless. Although she would sit by the hour knitting mechanically, yet her mind was nearly gone Old Scipio, day after day, prepared their simple meals, of which there was seldom any other variety than ash-pones with meat, and ash-pones without meat--being one-fourth of the time of the one, and three-fourths of the other.
From a very early age, Scipio had been the only preacher for the slaves of the Monmouth plantation. Before he became infirm, the old carpenter's shop was the Sabbath rendezvous, but when he removed from the "quarter," his forest-home became the place of meeting. It was a pleasant sight of a summer Sabbath morning, to see the poor people gathering for worship. Around the cabin, a few trees had been felled and cleared of their branches, and arranged so as to form seats for the little assembly; little it was, for, in accordance with the custom that obtains in the country, none of the people from the adjoining plantations were permitted to be present.
Old Scipio could read and write, for in the days of his childhood, it was customary for slaves to be instructed.
This elevated them, and made them fitter subjects for their lordly masters. These privileges were permitted in the days of the greatest prosperity of the old dominion; why are they now denied? Since the glory has departed, has a more degenerate race arisen? And is it meet that they withhold knowledge from their slaves, lest there be not the proportioned distance preserved between master and subject, requisite to make the system perfect? Say the legislators in effect: "It was not until the servants showed that information made them more unhappy, that it was judged expedient entirely to wrest away from them the key of knowledge, and so rivet their chains more securely in the dark." For after the horrid Southampton massacre, the question whether the slaves should be allowed to learn to read and write, became a subject of legislation* * This attempted apology for the enactment of laws that are worthy the dark ages only, will not do; for long anterior to the Southampton massacre, Virginia legislated to darken and dwarf the minds of her enslaved population. In 1849, she enacted the following statute: "That all meetings, or assemblages of slaves, or free negroes, or mulattoes, mixing or associating with such slaves at any meeting-house, or houses, or any other place, &c., in the night, or at any school or schools, for teaching them reading or writing, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an unlawful assembly; and any justice of a county, &c., wherein such assemblage shall be, either from his own knowledge or the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage, &c., may issue his warrant directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblages, &c., may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such slaves, and to inflict corporal punishment on the offender or offenders, at the discretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes."
--and the amount of the argument was, that there would be
* This attempted apology for the enactment of laws that are worthy the dark ages only, will not do; for long anterior to the Southampton massacre, Virginia legislated to darken and dwarf the minds of her enslaved population. In 1849, she enacted the following statute:
"That all meetings, or assemblages of slaves, or free negroes, or mulattoes, mixing or associating with such slaves at any meeting-house, or houses, or any other place, &c., in the night, or at any school or schools, for teaching them reading or writing, either in the day or night, under whatsoever pretext, shall be deemed and considered an unlawful assembly; and any justice of a county, &c., wherein such assemblage shall be, either from his own knowledge or the information of others, of such unlawful assemblage, &c., may issue his warrant directed to any sworn officer or officers, authorizing him or them to enter the house or houses where such unlawful assemblages, &c., may be, for the purpose of apprehending or dispersing such slaves, and to inflict corporal punishment on the offender or offenders, at the discretion of any justice of the peace, not exceeding twenty lashes."
less cause for insurrections, if more privileges were taken away, it being enacted that the African Virginians should not be permitted to learn to read and write.
"Have we not all one Father?
Hath not one God created us?"
Jamie in Scipio's cabin. Usefully employed. He commences learning to read. Surprise from the patrol. Jamie punished by the overseer.
WHEN Jamie was about six years old, a petition was sent up to Monmouth mansion, praying that he might live with his grandfather Scipio. The request was referred to Mrs. Chadwick by "Master Charles," her husband, and the good lady quickly assented, saying that she loved to confer any favor on old Scipio, "as he was the best servant on the land." "As long as he lives," said she, "I shall know that there is somebody to pray."
So, from this time, Jamie went to live in the cabin of Scipio. Although a ragged and forlorn object, he was very happy in his new home. He had often visited his grandfather while out on excursions in quest of food in the woods, and there was a strong attachment between them, such as often is seen between the grand-parent and grandchild. The toilsome duties of the old man's life were nearly done. His task now, in consideration
of his age and infirmities, was comparatively easy. Jamie's years of hard labor had not yet commenced, so they could well sympathize with each other. The good old man seemed, leaning his bowed form on the top of his staff, to be reaching back to childhood, and with delight, trod the same path with Jamie, instructing and guiding him day by day. Jamie made himself very useful to Scipio and Agga, as he gathered wood for the fire, and went to the spring for water. In return, the old man told him Bible stories, and gave him religious instruction.
Thus many days passed, during which time Scipio longed greatly to commence teaching Jamie to read, for seeing him so docile, apt, and sprightly, he felt that it would be delightful to instruct him; and then he thought what a comfort it would be to him, to be able to read the good book. But in opposition to all this was the law and its severe penalty. Scipio considered, and re-considered the matter, and at last resolved to teach the boy, and brave the consequences. So one day calling Jamie from his play, he said to him, "Do you want to learn to read?" Jamie's eyes brightened; he looked at old Scipio, to see if he was in earnest, and exclaimed, "I do want to learn to read! I would die for it!" And bursting into tears, he threw himself into
his arms. Although so young, he had heard a great deal said about learning to read, and how "Massa had done forbid it on de land." As he heard old Scipio tell or read the beautiful Scripture histories, he wished to do the same; but in such fear was he, that he had not told his thoughts.
"You shall learn to read," said old Scipio, "and have my Bible, and preach to the people when I am dead?" Then he explained to the boy the necessity of secrecy, as without it, all their plans would be vain.
"I will be like Scipio, and preach to the farm people when he is dead," thought Jamie, and with childish eagerness, with his faculties stimulated by an inspiring motive, he began to conquer his letters. By the aid of his faithful teacher, he was soon able to spell out words in his Bible. Old Scipio was delighted. His sight was growing dim, and he was overjoyed at the thought, that in a little while, his darling Jamie would be able to read "the good book" to him. And as he wove baskets in the shade of his cabin, (the avails of which labor procured clothes and food for Jamie,) he pictured to himself the usefulness of "the child" to the people in coming years, long after he himself should be gathered to his resting-place.
Meanwhile, Agga sat on the log in the chimney corner, quietly knitting. Summer or winter, it was all the same to her; there she would knit, knit, knit, by the day together--gazing vacantly on the fire when there was one, and on the hearth when there was not; ever muttering to herself, "Poor children gone! Agga old!"
It was thus that the three were engaged, when one day the patrol, going the monthly rounds, to see that all was right, according to the established laws of the State and plantation, came upon them. There was no warning given; Jamie was caught Bible in hand, and Scipio in the very act of helping him spell out a word.
"Hi! you old villyun!" exclaimed one of the patrol, "what may you be up to now? Making a saint of that young sprout; just as if he had a soul!"
"Just as if he had a soul!" echoed another.
"Here's for your interfaring!" said a third; and with these words, the ruffian gave the poor old man a blow with his cudgel which felled him to the earth, at which his cruel companions laughed in applause. Each one then gave Jamie a smart cuff, by way of testifying their disapprobation of his willingness to be taught, and then bidding him "Come along!" they marched off with him to the Monmouth quarter, and with a great deal of embellishment,
reported the grievous case to overseer Brazen, who immediately took, as he supposed, effectual measures to stop Jamie's learning to read. After representing to him in the strongest colors, the enormity of the crime he had committed, he told him that hanging ought to be resorted to, but as he was disposed to be merciful, he would only whip him severely this time. Then the judge, jury, executioner, all vested in the person of the overseer, proceeded to take summary vengeance for the broken laws of the State, by applying the ever-at-hand cow-hide to the naked back and shoulders of the poor child. The inhuman being said that he administered his whip thoroughly, so that "he done* * A common mode of expression among ignorant southern people.
forget what he learn!" And not satisfied with punishing him thus, he ordered his lacerated wounds to be washed in salt and water, while the poor child screamed for very agony. It was well known that the overseer had his own good reasons for insisting that "the people" should not be instructed, for he could neither read nor write himself; and in doing the business of the plantation, keeping accounts, &c., his wife held the pen.
* A common mode of expression among ignorant southern people.
The patrol represented to Brazen that they had punished old Scipio sufficiently; indeed, for aught they
knew, they had killed him. Jamie, moaning piteously, was just able to crawl to his old home. Jinny, his mother, dressed his wounds, and held him in her arms through the first weary night of his sufferings.
"Am I not a man and a brother?"
"My country--'tis o'er thee,
Dark land of slavery,
O'er thee I weep.
Land, proud of Freedom's name!
Land, cursed with slavery's shame!
Thy boastings loud proclaim
Thy guilt most deep."
Agga restores Scipio. He goes to the quarter for Jamie. Overseer Brazen's management. Decline of Scipio. Mrs. Chadwick's visit. A triumphant death.
OLD Scipio, stunned by the blow from the patrol, remained unconscious for some time, notwithstanding the efforts of Agga; for aroused from her apathy by the rough voices of the patrol, she raised her dim eyes from the hearth just as he fell. The scene, in its turmoil and uproar, was not unlike that of years gone by, when two of her children were torn from her cabin, and it was doubtless this association that roused her. She had no clear idea of what was going on, but tottered to the door, bent almost double as she was, moaning as usual, "Poor children gone! Agga old! Children gone! Agga old!" She saw that Scipio did not move, for a ray of reason dawned in her mind, that she might
exert herself to restore him. She moaned as she reentered the door, "children gone! Agga old!" took the gourd, and filling it with water from the pail which always stood in the corner by the door, tottered back, and with her trembling hand, bathed the brow of Scipio, who drew a deep groan, and began to be conscious. Agga mechanically resumed her knitting in the chimney corner, and moaned on, as if nothing had happened to interrupt her monotonous occupation. Scipio gradually recovered; his scattered senses returning by little and little. Committing himself and his cause to his Father, he felt peaceful and happy. A sweet consciousness of the approbation of Him who looketh on the heart, filled his soul; he felt that it was right to persist in teaching his darling boy, and this settled, he resolved, come life or death, to go forward in the work.
At length when he was able, with the aid of his staff, he slowly picked his way to the quarter for Jamie. While returning, the two often sat down to rest by the way, for they were very weak and sore. Scipio told Jamie of the sufferings of the Saviour, and how He felt for His poor suffering children, and then charged him to love the Lord with all his heart. "That I will!" said the child with tears in his eyes, "and I would die to read about Him." So effectual was the punishment
of the overseer! Scipio replied, "Then you shall learn, for I would die for it!"
Meanwhile Brazen, thinking that he had put a stop to the plan of Jamie's learning to read, was congratulating himself on his talent at disposing of subjects tending to the detriment of the general good, alias, his master's interests.
"Slaves is mighty deep sometimes," said he to Mrs. Brazen, as he expatiated on the case of our poor little hero, "but turn every which way an I is a little deeper!" alluding to his success in the management of the people over whom he presided. He thought he had settled the matter, still he judged it best to charge the patrol to be vigilant and see that the reading went no further. Scipio and Jamie were on the alert, lest they should again be surprised and the Bible seized; this last was a great source of solicitude, as there were not half a dozen copies on the plantation, and none to replace theirs should it be taken away. The patrol were regular in their monthly rounds; sometimes, however, coming upon them in the shade of evening, and at other times early in the day. Still Jamie rapidly progressed in reading, and was so fortunate as to elude detection.
Scipio now became daily more and more infirm. As he was almost blind, it was a great source of comfort
to have the Bible read to him. He could no longer go to distant parts of the forest, to gather the herd of which he had charge, so that this occupation devolved on Jamie, although only about seven years old. Day by day the good old man rapidly declined. He was like a shock of corn ripe for the reaper, and it was plain that he would soon be taken away.
Mrs. Chadwick, hearing of his state, hastened to his abode. It was a bright autumn evening. The forest was bedecked in a gay robe of purple, gold, and crimson. The leaves were blooming in beauty as they decayed. The sun had not yet passed beyond the gates of the west, and the breezes which had been out on duty all day, bearing autumn-perfumes, went to sleep, as he prepared to take his departure, by gilding the clouds with radiant glory-hues. Her path was carpeted with brilliantly-painted leaves, and the forest seemed a superb pillared palace, hung with glowing tapestry. But her heart was saddened with the thought, that this lighting up of Summer's beautiful colors, was but the index of death and decay
"How tenderly doth nature throw
Her parting smile on all below,
A mournful beauty that endears,
'Mid all of death, decay and tears."
As she reached the cabin, the sun had set. The aged
disciple lay on his rude bed of straw, with an Indian blanket thrown lightly over him. Jamie sat by his bedside reading to him, but was so engrossed that he did not notice her approach. She stood without by the door and listened while he read the Psalm, commencing, "The Lord is my shepherd." The reading finished, Scipio, with his hands clasped, repeated the fourth verse, "Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me: thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
She quietly entered, and Jamie quickly attempted to hide his Bible beneath the blanket; but by signs she gave him to understand that he had nothing to fear. Agga, still nearly unconscious of all that was passing, continued to sit in her corner, uttering, almost inaudibly, "Children gone! Agga old!" in the same pathetic, soul-melting way as ever. Blind Scipio was not sensible of Mrs. Chadwick's presence. She felt that she was in the house of death, and would not disturb the good man in his passing hence. He was very joyful in view of the glorious scenery of heaven seemingly before him, and had few thoughts for earth. Those concerned little Jamie, broken-hearted Agga, and the slave-people. He offered a prayer for each, and all of them, and his spirit was gone to God who gave it.
Jamie, seeing that his dearest earthly friend was no more, with an overwhelming view of his loss, raised a piercing cry of sorrow. Accustomed to uninterrupted quiet, Agga was once again aroused from her lethargy, and came to the bedside. A gleam of reason for a moment lightened up her darkened mind; she knew that Scipio was dead. As the truth burst upon her, she screamed in heart-rending agony and fell lifeless by his side. Slavery had not been permitted to "put them asunder," and death might not divide them.
"I was not born a little slave,
To labor in the sun,
And wish that I were in my grave
And all my labor done."
Jamie a field-laborer. A responsible character. The foreman. Jinny. Foreman Ned. The field-hands hoeing corn. Aunt Mag and her bakery. The field breakfast. Plantation hours.
A NEW era now commenced in the life of Jamie. His mistress took him up to Monmouth House and treated him very kindly. She told him that he might keep Scipio's Bible, but that it must be out of sight and as secret as possible, lest it make trouble with the other servants, who could not read. "If I had my way," said she, "every one on the land should learn to read and write, and as it is, I shall teach all the house-servants who will learn." It was her wish to have Jamie in the house for the present, as a waiter, and when older, to be employed as a dining-room servant, to wait at the table, &c. However, as he gave promise of being hale and stout, and consequently valuable as a field-laborer, this plan of his mistress was over-ruled by his master, who went for the "main chance," and thought it best for him to go to work with the farm-people, while some
one less robust might be selected for the vacant situation in the house. So when the child was eight years old, he was sent down to the "quarter," about a mile distant; the overseer being instructed to see that he was well employed. Accordingly that personage forth with put him under the care of Ned, the "foreman of plows and hoes," ordering him to get as much work out of Jamie as possible.
The foreman on a Virginia plantation is quite a responsible character. One of the most trusty, strong, and "likely" of the slaves, is selected for this office, and if he proves himself well-qualified, is permitted to keep the situation for life, or rather till worn out, and laid aside, like an old garment, labeled in the inventory "old and useless." In season of plowing, it is his business to lead. In hoeing, he takes the "fore-row," and sees that all the people that work with him "keep up." If they loiter, he is authorized to whip them, or give information to the overseer, who can administer the punishment more thoroughly at the whipping-post. The same person is "foreman of cradles" in harvesting. He is styled, "foreman of plows and hoes," but he is the "boss" of the plantation, and is expected to go ahead in all kinds of work.
It will be seen, that the amount of labor performed,
depends very much on the foreman. If he is "first-rate," he works the people hard, but if he is "easy" and fond of "resting on his hoe," they have a comfortable time of it, when the overseer is out of sight. The foreman, of course, feels his importance; considers himself on a par with the aristocracy of his race, i. e. the house-servants. He is looked up to by the people of the quarter as a slave of consequence. They find it for their advantage to keep in his good graces, as in that case, they are less likely to be reported to the overseer for slight offenses. A little power with a slave, is a dangerous thing; a tool he little knows how to use. A foreman has the power of making the people work, by working himself, and often, for the mere love of exercising this power, will work beyond his strength. The men and women who labor with him, through fear, seldom need much force to make them do the cruel task thus assigned them. It is the youngsters, who are not "broken in," that hang back and require the whip. They young field-hands, being unaccustomed to the yoke of patiently enduring hard toil--and working simply because they must, (although they know that this is the only way of drawing "'lowance," or rations,) work just as little as they can. So it is thought necessary to "train them in," as refractory colts are broken
to the harness, or young cattle to the yoke, at the North. The field women are generally required to follow on, as well as the men; and if they are perverse, are treated with the same severity. The overseer urges on the foreman, who urges on the people, who hang back all they dare.
Foreman Ned, before mentioned, was sufficiently consequential. He received Brazen's order to keep Jamie at work, with an amusing mixture of pomposity and deference.
"Certainly, Massa Brazen!" said he, with a profound bow. It was evening, and no work was required of Jamie that day, but Ned told him, with a patronizing air, that he must start in the morning with the people for the field. The child went to the scanty hovel of his father John, fearing, he scarcely knew what, on the morrow. He was glad, too, to nestle down in the straw with dear little Tray and Kitt. But Judy and Rose were missed from the little one-room cabin, as the mistress sometime before, took them to the house, and they were already quite accomplished in their capacity of serving. Jamie had a strong affection for his father and mother, and yet they had done comparatively little to call forth his love. Jinny had little of Scipio's resigned, tranquil spirit. She could not submit with
meekness to her situation. It galled her that she must work in the field. She was discontented, and the watchful overseer would often say, that "she made more trouble by her sour looks and bitter speeches, than any other woman on the plantation." He regarded her with an evil eye, and would gladly have taken occasion to bring her to punishment for delinquency, but no such occasion was to be found. She regularly left her little children to "keep house" at the cabin, and performed her work in the field, hot or cold, rain or shine, sick or well. Yet there was a sullen frown on her swarthy brow, and she groaned oftener than she spoke. Brazen was vexed that she did not look cheerful. He feared that the discontent would spread, and the result be that some would escape from bondage. We shall see.
Saturday morning, memorable in the life of Jamie, as commencing his field-labor, dawned bright and clear. After awakening, he had scarcely time to throw on his clothes, when he heard some one calling at the top of his voice, "Halloa! get up! Halloa!" Running to the door, he saw "foreman Ned," standing at the entrance of his cabin, in the center of the quarter, calling the laborers up, to go to work. Quickly the people were ready, and proceeded to the field, John, Jinny, and Jamie, being in company. Each one, before starting, took a
lunch of cold ash-pones, left of yesterday's meal, and a bit of meat, if they chanced to have it, otherwise they would naturally get hungry before breakfast, which was not until twelve o'clock! The work for the day was hoeing corn. Jamie had his place assigned in the row with youngsters, some older than himself, who had undergone the process of "breaking in." Foreman Ned told him that he must work "right smart, and keep up," or be whipped; and then started his own row with the laborers. The child tried to do his best, and while it was cool, he succeeded very well. Directly, however, the sun grew hot, and as he had been more accustomed to the shade of the woods, than the exposure of the open fields, he suffered much in attempting to perform his task. About ten o'clock, the boy whose work it was to "tote* * "Tote," means to carry.
water to the people," appeared bearing on his head a pail-full. He placed it on the ground, and the thirsty company stopped work while a gourd was passed round. Jamie being the youngest must wait longest and be last served. Thirst being quenched, the hoes were resumed, while "Tony, the toter of water," put the empty pail on his head, and went for another freight. By and by, when the people were very weary, noon came, their breakfast hour. They were not permitted
* "Tote," means to carry.
to go to their cabins to eat this meal, for this would take too much time, and might add to their fatigue. Breakfast was therefore brought to them. It consisted of ash pones, with a small quantity of meat.
There was an aged woman, called familiarly, Aunt Mag, who was too "old and useless" to work in the field; therefore, she was permitted to retire from business and only have charge of the bakery for the people. The women working in the field, of course had no time to attend to baking their bread.
The matter was arranged thus. All the people that labored in the field, men, women and children, each carried daily to Aunt Mag about a pint of meal, mixed with water and salt, if they had it, if not, they did as well as they could without. Each one mixed his portion himself, in his own dish, to guard against any fraud; for, as food is none too abundant with them, they are sometimes suspicious of each other. If the meal is mixed and carried to the baker by the owner, there is no possibility of losing any part of it, as each one has a particular mark for his pone.
Aunt Mag's bakery is an ordinary one-room cabin, only the fire-place is larger, extending quite across one side, and is furnished with a brick hearth. This old woman is as neat as the neatest, and has her own considerate
way of putting things to rights. She certainly deserves a great deal of credit for her skill in doing her work. As each laborer has a mark for his pone, after she has flattened out the dough, she impresses this mark on it, so that the owner may claim it when it reaches the field. One man's mark is a hole made in his bread; another's is two holes, &c. One has a cross; another a double cross; the mark of each individual being perfectly understood by the baker and himself. The brick hearth being hot, Aunt Mag lays the numerous pones, duly identified, thereon, in something of a semi-circle around the good fire. Sometimes she buries them in the ashes, a much approved way of cooking them, and hence the name "ash pones."
How patient is the good old woman! There she is, every hot summer day by the fire, turning the corn-cakes. Bent almost double, she need not stoop much to reach them, and when they are done, which is generally about eleven o'clock, she puts them in the bread basket ready for Tony to "tote" to the people. If any one has any meat she carefully cooks it, and places it on his pone.
Having made this explanation, we will return to the corn-field, for it is breakfast time. The sun is directly over head, pouring down his furnace rays as if to wither
the earth. The laborers with foreman Ned, have reached the end of the row, and stopping to rest on their hoes, they see at the extremity of the field, the boy with the basket of bread on his head. Ned and his company raise a "halloa!" designed to hasten the coming of Tony. The foreman then turns to his followers, and with some spicing of authority says, "No more work till done eat breakfast!" This announcement is received with smiles, nods and murmurs of applause. The people seat themselves on the grass bordering the corn, in the sun, to wait the slow pace of Tony, while Jinny goes to finish Jamie's row and release him, saying, "It is right smart hard for him to work, such an infant baby as he is too!" (John would go but Jinny thinks of it first.) She is soon by the youngster's row, and tells Jamie to go and rest. The poor child, ready to fall through fatigue, gives her his hoe, and slowly moves toward the party who are resting themselves on the grass in the sun. The youngsters and Jinny strain every nerve, and finish the row just as Tony comes with the bread, for he was never known to be in haste. Ned observed that "he was right smart slower than a snail." Another said, "turn every which way and you could not find nothing so tochally slow! de stand-still creek moved right smart
faster!" "What would you do if I did not tote it at all?" muttered Tony to himself. He now put down the basket and with the assistance of Ned, distributed the bread to the people, every man, woman, and child, taking the pone on which was his or her mark. As Jamie had not been working in the field, and consequently had not drawn his "allowance" of food, there was no pone for him, but John and Jinny gave him a part of theirs, and besides this, many offered to share with him, their eager hungry looks meanwhile contradicting their words. Seated as we have said, the poor people par took of their humble repast with nothing but hunger to make it relish. Meanwhile Tony goes for more water.
The meal finished, foreman Ned being in a lazy mood, proposes to the people that they wait for the water before they go to work. But fearing they might be surprised inactive, he sends one of the boys "around the corner of the field" to see if overseer Brazen is in sight. The boy returns with the intelligence, "dat dere be one man on horseback coming down de road like Massa Brazen." "To hoes!" said Ned, in a low, but emphatic tone, and directly all hands were hard at work, as if the overseer's eye were on them The man on horseback proved to be only a traveler, and Ned took
occasion to give the boy a blow for his innocent mistake.
At last the day passed, as all weary days do, lingering and loitering on its way. The laborers rejoiced to see the setting sun, although then their work was not done. "From sunrise to twilight," were the hours of labor on this plantation, and none were permitted to go to their cabin during this time, except the mothers of very young children, who were allowed to visit them twice during the day, for a few moments only. Children of six, seven, and eight years old were the nurses for the babes while their mothers were in the field.
Twilight came, and the toil-worn laborers returned to their cabins, not like free happy peasants, to be greeted at their doors with the smiling faces of those to whom their labor had brought comfort and happiness, but heart-sick they entered unwelcomed their dreary abodes of squalid poverty, which no efforts of their can hope to make better. In the sweat of their brows, others eat bread, and so the curse falls doubly on them.
John and Jinny were silent and sad, and Jamie was too tired to play with Kitt and Tray, who had been to the woods for berries. As only a few fragments remained of the breakfast, the family were obliged to go to bed almost supperless.
"We are verily guilty concerning our brother."
'Lowance Sunday. The key-basket. Mrs. Dorothy. Jamie's Bible returned. Slave John's escape. Malice of Brazen. Kindness of Mrs. Chadwick. Tray. Sick Kitt. Spinning Jinny. The overseer reprimanded. Jinny's task.
THE next day was Sunday, and foreman Ned did not stand in the door of his cabin and call the people to work as on other mornings. All in the little hamlet slept until the sun was high in the heavens, for the day of rest was a welcome day to them. At length about nine o'clock, some were stirring. The men and boys, and some of the women, taking their customary lunch, went up to Monmouth House, for this was "'lowance Sunday" as they termed it, being the fourth Sunday in the month.
On some plantations where there is sufficient religious principle, the people's rations are given out for the month on Saturday afternoon. At Monmouth it was the custom, handed down from lordly ancestors, to have this work done every fourth Sunday morning, the people not being spared from their work to come on Saturday, to receive their portion of food. There were
three farms, dependencies of Monmouth; each had its quarters, the people of which regularly presented themselves for rations. Numbering the laborers of the three farms and the house-servants, there were about one hundred and fifty to be fed; and all their supplies must come from head-quarters at Monmouth.
Laboring men were entitled to a peck and a half of meal per week, women one peck, and children one half peck. A piece of meat that would suffice for ordinary meals, two days, was the month's allowance.
As Jamie had commenced field work, he went up to "the house" for his share of food, besides he wished to get his Bible from his kind mistress, with whom he left it, and petition for a new suit of clothes, as those given him by old Scipio were only rags.
Ten o'clock of this lovely Sabbath morning, and the wing of Monmouth, in which the store-room was situated, was thronged. A hive of one hundred slaves had come to receive their wages, daily bread. It was a new scene to Jamie, and timidly he clung to his mother's side. The housekeeper, a white person, soon made her appearance, and with the assistance of slave Bill, the gardener, began to measure out the food. You may know Mrs. Dorothy the South over, for she always has in her hand the key-basket, at once the insignia of her
office and certificate of her trust worthy character. In it you may see keys of all ages, sizes and descriptions, from the ponderous rusty key that opens the wine cellar, to the small polished one that keeps safe the work-stand; there they are, always jingling, as the house-keeper is moving. The basket is almost constantly in her hand, she scarcely sets it down when she eats. She mislays her handkerchief, loses her thimble, and spectacles, but it has never been recorded of her, that she for one moment forgot her key-basket, and thus tempted the servants around her to steal! And mark the diligent precaution observed by the careful body at night, when she takes the keys out of the basket, locks them in the upper drawer of the bureau, and putting that key of keys, the key to the whole establishment, under her pillow, is sure that all is safe.
Well, as before named, gardener Bill and Mrs. Dorothy brought from the store-room the rations of the people. Mrs. Dorothy prided herself on knowing "every servant on the land," and especially felt her importance every fourth Sunday morning, "allowance day" in the slave's calendar. She flew nimbly about, her tongue running smoothly, and the keys jingling to keep time. Her word was law among those before her, unless, indeed, as was often the case, higher authority, as the
master or mistress, chanced to be present. The portions were given out, and the key-bearer said, "As fast as you get your 'lowance, you may go." Still a great number remained, for this was the time appointed for the farm people to ask any favor, and sometimes it seemed as if they would never "be done." There were women that wanted "mistress" old dresses that were laid aside, and boys that spent the day before picking blackberries, who had brought them now to exchange for molasses. Men were there who had been permitted to keep poultry, and who had brought their chickens to exchange for luxuries, or what were considered so by them, in their lowly lot. In short, as Mrs. Dorothy expressed it, "we have right smart of trade there you may depend."
When the portioning was over, the people returned to their respective quarters, laden with the next month's provisions. Jamie lingered behind and asked the house-keeper if he might speak to mistress.
"Dear me child, no! Why should you disturb your mistress? I can do any thing for you that mistress can." The child did not reply, but still lingered; this of course tried the patience of Mrs. Dorothy. "You can't see your mistress to-day, so get away with you!" Jamie recollected how old Scipio had mourned over
"allowance Sunday," and now he wished more than ever to get back his Bible, so that he might spend the remainder of the day in reading it. He knew where his mistress' room was, so he cautiously entered that part of the building, and gently knocked at the door. Rose herself opened it, and the mistress seeing him, spoke kindly and told him to come in.
"What do you want, Jamie?" said she. "My Bible," said Jamie. "Rose," said the lady, "get Jamie's Bible for him; there, run home, I'll talk with you another time." The boy, with his Bible and allowance, accordingly made his way back to the quarter.
Two months from the death of Scipio and Agga, had passed, when overseer Brazen discovered that Jamie had a Bible and was guilty of reading it, notwithstanding his prohibition. He was quite indignant at this, and yet he feared to punish Jamie again, lest he should be unfitted for the hard labor assigned him. He thought of an expedient, however; he caused John and Jinny to be whipped in his stead, alleging that they knew that reading was forbidden. John was an upright straight-forward character, and had heretofore succeeded in keeping on good terms with the overseer and foreman, and consequently with his master. He could ill brook such treatment, and conferring with Jinny, decided
to attempt escape; "John," said she "follow that star," pointing to the north star, "live with the free people, get free cabin, free home, and one by one we will come." So one tempestuous night, after kissing the three sleeping boys, and tenderly embracing his wife, the poor man took his flight. The thunder, lightning, and rain, took away from him all fear of patrol and pursuers. The morning came, and when assembled in the field, it was discovered that John was absent. Jinny had nothing to communicate respecting him; she could not tell where he was, very truly. Immediate search was made for the deserter. Many years had passed since such an occurrence on Monmouth plantation, and a great commotion was raised as Brazen raged furiously, when the runaway was not found by any means which he had devised. It was in vain they sought for him, he had fled like a frightened deer in the midst of the storm; and when the morning dawned he found, many miles away from his cabin, a safe hiding-place for the day, in the thick branches of a pine, upturned by the tempest, until he could again resume his journey. And while he went on under the guardian wing of night, guided by the star of freedom, rejoicing in the hope of reaching a free country, his master mourned his loss, even as the loss of eight hundred dollars!
Jamie found that reading the Bible could only be done by stealth. Therefore, it was never taken from its hiding-place in the loose clay between the logs, except in the twilight of morning, or in the quiet night, when by a pine knot he would read many a comforting passage to his mother.
The idea that Jamie could read, was like gall and wormwood to the overseer. As he himself could not read, he felt envious toward those that could, and the thought that one inferior was superior to him in knowledge, was insupportable. Besides, the discontented looks of the mother had long incensed him, more especially since the father had escaped, and he longed for an excuse to wreak his smothered vengeance on this inoffensive family. And while one long year passed away, Jamie and his mother were punished several times for alleged offenses, but really on the score of the ill-will of that malicious Brazen. Still he was not satisfied, but became more and more embittered against them. He determined to inflict the greatest punishment he could devise, which was to have them sold, in which case they would be separated. Now the problem with Brazen was, how to get a pretext sufficient to accomplish it. About this time the patrol were going the rounds, and he gave them strict charge to
watch closely Jinny's cabin. Accordingly two men crept stealthily under the window, soon after which Jamie, unconscious of danger, lighted a pine knot, took his Bible from its hiding-place, and sitting down with his mother and little brothers, proceeded to read. The patrol waited while he read one chapter, so that they might have the more to accuse him of, and then like bandits they burst into the cabin and taking him, Bible in hand, hurried him to Brazen. "You rascal villyun!" said he, brandishing his whip, and grinding his teeth, "you have not had enough yet, I see!" then he gave him the customary chastisement, the details of which are too painful to be described. The poor suffering child crawled back to his mother, who dressed his wounds as well as she could, and prayed that he might be free. Tray and Kitt continued to sob, for they fell to crying when Jamie was taken by the patrol. And while Jamie was groaning with pain, his mother instilled into his mind a strong desire to escape from bondage.
There, on his pallet of straw, with his wounds throbbing with anguish, Jamie resolved to throw off the chain, but, with a consideration unusual in his years, he would wait till his little brothers were old enough to escape with him. Judy and Rose were maids to the
Monmouth young ladies, Pocahontas and Virginia, and so inconsiderable was the intercourse of the separated family, that there was little hope remaining in Jinny's heart that she should be able to effect her project of getting all her children to the "free country." Still a glimmering would at times lighten the darkness of her fears, that some of them would yet be free, and it was this that strengthened her to toil on.
As an additional punishment for reading the Bible, the overseer kept the book. Besides this, he entered a complaint with the master, saying that "Jamie was the most troublesomest servant on the plantation;" adding that if he wished "to keep his people from running away, he must sell him, for he is always in some mischief, right smart troublesome, is reading his Bible, and making every body uncontented; and its my mind that he ought to be sold out of the way."
The master might have yielded to the solicitation of the overseer, had not the mistress interfered. "It is so cruel to sell servants," said she, "that I have hoped we should never be obliged to resort to it. Please you remember good old Scipio! How the old man prayed for us, and Jamie may be like him!"
"To be sure! to be sure!" and turning to the overseer who stood expectant by, with the never-absent cow-hide
in hand, Mr. Chadwick said, "It is our wish that the servants should not be sold." At this, Brazen, obsequiously asking if there were any orders for him, took his leave, crest-fallen at his want of success.
Jamie, knowing well that his mistress was disposed to be very kind to him, planned from time to time to appeal to her about his Bible. Almost a year passed away thus; for although he went every month for "allowance," yet so much did he dread the overseer's anger, that he forbore to petition Mrs. Chadwick to interfere in the matter. The boy had enjoyed some glimpses of peace, happiness, and comparative freedom during the life of Scipio, and now the contrast was hard to be borne. It was grievous to him who had so few sources of enjoyment, to be deprived of the principal one; but so it must be. He wept and prayed that the last gift of old Scipio might be restored to him, and resolved to make an effort to get it back, if it cost him his life.
Tray was now old enough to work in the field, and had an introduction to his labor, similar to Jamie's, as before described. Little Kitt, now five years old, was left by himself in the cabin, day by day. He was a feeble, diminutive child, and needed much tender attention. Having no one to divert or take care of him, he
gradually declined. Every night, as his mother returned dusty and weary from the field, she would take him in her arms, and after trying to persuade him to eat some of the morsels she so carefully saved for him, would soothe him to sleep; but he moaned and grew weaker every day, and she said to Jamie, that she "almost prayed the Father to take him. If he lives, how can he get to the free country, and he had better die than stay here!"
At length little Kitt was so sick that his mother could not leave him, and the overseer finding she was absent from the field, prepared to make her suffer for it; but it providentially happened that the mistress that day paid her annual visit to the quarter, to see a little to the condition of the people, and finding how matters stood, she approved of Jinny's absenting herself from the field; so Brazen found it for his interest to be silent. Jinny told her mistress her solicitude about little Kitt, and how necessary it was for her to stay with him.
"Yes," said Mrs. Chadwick, one thing is certain, Kitt must be taken care of. I have a plan! you shall be my spinning Jinny. You may come up to Monmouth, and I will give you your task with "the spinners and weavers for the people." You shall have a wheel and loom in your cabin, and work no more in the
field, for I see clearly, unless first-rate care is taken of the little fellow, he will die; or at least be good-for-nothing. You are a good nurse, I dare say, and any thing you want for him, you shall have by coming to me.
Knowing that "the mistress" was at the quarter, Jamie got leave to run home, while the laborers were at breakfast, and ask how Kitt was; but his main errand was respecting his Bible. "Bless my life, child! and where is your Bible?" exclaimed the lady. Jinny then explained the course of the overseer, and how the Bible was taken away. "You do well to tell me," said Mrs. C.; and then saying something to herself about taking Brazen to task for abusing her servants, she arose to go. "Remember," said she to Jinny, "remember to come up to Monmouth, Monday week, when I give out cotton to the spinners." In a glittering carriage, drawn by gay, beautiful horses, she was borne back to her splendid mansion--with a mind at ease, think you? Was there not a spoiler of her peace?
Mrs. Chadwick whirled home in her carriage, comforting herself that she had gone through with the penance of visiting all the cabins at the quarter, adjusting matters as well as they could be adjusted in the nature of things. She found overseer Brazen at Monmouth,
transacting business with her husband, and made him understand directly that she was not pleased with his treatment of Jamie. Said she, "I've no idea of having my servants abused, that I have not! Mark me, Mr. Brazen, that Bible must be returned to Jamie forthwith; and he has my permission to read it." Mr. Brazen wished himself of size reduced, that he might retire unobserved through the key-hole, while Mr. Chadwick, evidently pleased at the spirit and energy of the lady, told the confounded knight of the cow-hide, to do as she had said. He assented; and as the business was finished, in deep mortification, mounted his horse and rode slowly homeward, resolving, if the thing could be done, to effect the sale of Jamie, Tray and Kitt, as he judged that this would most agonize the mother; for, in addition to other causes of his ill-will, before-mentioned, he now accused her, in his own mind, of complaining of his treatment of Jamie. But he found it expedient to smother his hate for a more favorable time, when it might freely burst into flame.
Kitt now had a regular course of fever, yet his mother went for the cotton, as directed, and procured from her mistress sundry things that he needed for his comfort. The spinning-wheel was brought, and she commenced her task, which was to spin two pounds of cotton per
week, besides taking care of little Kitt. His fever raged higher and higher, and Jinny became so alarmed about him, that one rainy day she despatched Jamie to his mistress to ask if she might have a doctor?
"Certainly!" replied Mr. Chadwick, "certainly! it is a pity to lose the boy, he'll be wanted in the field by and by."
He then directed him where to go to find the physician of the neighborhood. The doctor gave Jamie some medicine for Kitt, which, with Jinny's careful nursing, was the means, under Providence, of his recovery. Jinny's troubles were not over; he continued feeble a long time, and needed much more attention than her task would allow her to give him. She had learned to spin when young, but was not familiar enough with a wheel to make easy work of what she was required to do. Had she been free, could she have felt that her daily toil was making her husband and children more comfortable and happy, then, indeed, it would have been accomplished easily, with an elastic step and buoyant heart. It was not so now. Jinny's step was slow and languid, for hope was nearly extinct in her heart, and her task was a burden. Yet she would not complain, for this was "no comparison better than to leave her little boy, and go into the field."
There was a day of rejoicing to the inmates of that cabin, when the overseer gave Jamie back his Bible, although it was a cruel threat that he should "remember and serve 'em right yet!"
"Year after year of bondage,
The self-same story told."
Mrs. Chadwick and daughters go North. Overseer Brazen's wife. Two turkeys missing. Brazen and Ned's conspiracy. Mrs. Brazen a literary character.
YEARS passed away, in which nothing worthy of note, differing essentially from that which we have recorded, occurred. Jamie and Tray had grown up to manhood. Kitt had recovered, and was able to work in the field; and Jinny had made herself so useful with her wheel and loom, that it was thought best at Monmouth to keep her thus employed.
About this time, Mrs. Chadwick made a tour North, taking with her, her daughters, the Misses Pocahontas and Virginia, with their maids, Judy and Rose. They were to visit Niagara in company with southern friends, and then go to Saratoga, and spend the summer.
Overseer Brazen's wife was a notable manager. Besides making a great quantity of butter to sell, from their two cows, she kept a large poultry yard, with the proceeds of which, during ten long years, she had kept her husband's purse well lined, as she expressed it, "had kept their nest well feathered." It happened that some
of the residents at the quarter, thinking that ash-pones were poor living, stole two of Mrs. Brazen's fat turkeys. The next morning, while her cook was getting breakfast, the overseer's lady, as usual, went out to count and feed her turkeys, and directly found them minus two. The alarm was given by Mrs. Brazen to her husband, by running in and putting the house in commotion, and instituting a search. The overseer himself searched every cabin at the quarter to gain a clue, if possible, of the fate of the missing poultry. He looked in vain, found nothing that threw the least light upon the subject, until he came to foreman Ned's cabin. There, among the high rank weeds that surrounded it, his eagle-eyes actually saw feathers, which he identified as belonging to his wife's turkeys.
"Now," thought Brazen, "this is just as I'd have it!" But not a word was said about the discovery until Ned came from his work at night-fall, when, as he was about to enter his cabin, the overseer astounded him by putting his hand upon his shoulder.
"Ned!" said he, eyeing him sternly. "Massa, Massa Brazen!" stammered Ned, trembling from head to foot.
"Ned!" continued he, "jest look into the weeds with me, will you?"
"Massa Brazen," replied Ned, desperately composed, "what you mean, massa Brazen?"
"Ned," said the overseer, slowly and sternly, "you done stole Mrs. Brazen's Christmas turkeys!"
"Not I, massa! I hold myself 'sponsible to prove that I never done stole de turkeys, by right smart proof!" said the foreman, tremblingly trying to gain time.
"Ned, it's useless to talk with me! I am an old fox! I've found you out! you stole the turkeys, you sat up last night with some of the people to eat 'em up, and now I shall tie you to the whipping-post, and cow-hide you within an inch of your life!"
"Oh, massa Brazen!" implored Ned, falling on his knees, "Mercy!"
"I will have justice done!" responded the injured man.
"Oh massa Brazen!" pleaded Ned, "save me de whipping, and I'll make baskets for you every night of my life!"
"You deserve to die, Ned, to be sure!" said the overseer, more coldly, "but there is one way by which you can avoid it."
Ned looked up inquiringly.
"If you will prove that Jamie, Tray and Kitt, stole Mrs. Brazen's turkeys, I'll forgive you."
"Sartain, massa Brazen. I have only to done put de feathers which dey leff at my cabin, at dere door," said Ned, taking the overseer's hint, and falling into it with all the cunning of his nature; continued he, "I will swear 'spressly dat I seed 'um take dem two turkeys from off de peaceable roost; is dat what you want?'
"Exactly, Ned," said cow-hide, "now, get up, and see that you stick to it, that you saw Jamie, Tray and Kitt, steal Mrs. Brazen's Christmas turkeys."
"Dat I will most amiable!" said Ned, delighted to escape a whipping by any means.
"Now, Ned, after you have scattered bones and feathers around Jinny's cabin, come right to 'Brazen Hall,' (the new name of his little snug domicil,) and take my commands to Monmouth."
With these words Brazen and Ned parted, the former going home to tell his wife that he had found the thieves to be Jamie, Tray and Kitt, and that he wished her to write to that effect to Mr. Chadwick; for as we have mentioned, he could neither read nor write.
"Do tell! you don't say so, Mr. Brazen!" exclaimed the fat lady, "well, I never! dem is de cunningest servants, I muss say!"
"Deep as the creek! the villyuns!" echoed the overseer,
meanwhile industriously beating his boot with his whip.
"Well, as you say," replied his wife, after a long talk about the matter, "I muss lose no time in writing it all down to Mr. Chadwick."
Saying this, the old lady, for she was some twenty years the senior of her husband, who had become at tached to her for the sake of her one thousand dollars, which he set down as a prize worth more than the incumbrance by which it was accompanied, looked for her spectacles, then for an old goose-quill, with which she had written for several years, the tea-cup that served as ink-stand, and the blank leaf torn some time previously from Jamie's Bible. These materials gathered, this interesting lady composed herself into the following note:
Mistur Chadwie Squir
Sir you muss please to no that Jamy Kit and tra has stol my to bess turkees which I was fattin on purposly for your table at Monmouth Tha was my to bess pet turkees, an I has been in morning all the blessed day for their loss on your account to be sure Mistur Brazen says we cant live no longer with them three thevin servants and if you cant no how sell them he muss be excused from his Office as soon as may be Tuesday night
Letter from the North. Loss of Judy and Rose. Efforts to take them. Their worth. Mrs. Chadwick afflicted. Want of money.
THURSDAY evening's mail brought as usual a bundle of letters and papers for Monmouth. Among them was a letter from Mrs. Chadwick, which read as follows:
SARATOGA, N. Y. July 15, 18--.
DEAR CHARLES:--How shall I tell you what has happened? I have reason to fear that Judy and Rose have left us, as they have not been seen for two days. Wednesday night the girls and myself attended a splendid party given by Gen.--, (a description of which, had we not met with such a misfortune in the loss of our servants, would have been the subject of this letter, but now I have no heart to mention it.) When we returned to our rooms from the party, we did not find the maids awaiting us as usual. As there were quite a number of chamber-maids about the establishment, I thought they must be loitering with them, although I had forbidden it entirely. I rang the bell and desired the waiter to send Judy and Rose to me directly; he returned in a few moments saying that they were not to be found in the house. I was alarmed, and knew not what to do, but slipped a five-dollar bill into his hand and directed him to find them before he returned. Pocahontas and Virginia, wearied to death, threw themselves on their beds without undressing, and thus they slept the whole of that blessed night.
I did not then feel much alarmed about the servants' escaping. I never borrow trouble, and I set my heart at rest, thinking they were tired waiting for us, and forgetting themselves had fallen asleep in some part of the house, where they were overlooked. I doubted not they would be in waiting, to assist us to dress in the morning, but it did not turn out so.
At eight o'clock, just as I awoke, I heard a knock at the door, and the waiter's voice saying, "Madam Chadwick, your servants can not be found!"
"They must be found!" I exclaimed, and making my toilet with all possible despatch, I was actually down stairs, before nine o'clock, taking measures to send after the supposed runaways. The proprietor of our boarding-house said they had doubtless started for Canada; and if that is the case thought I, it is useless to pursue them. Now I think of it, I do recollect when we were returning from Niagara, seeing a person that much resembled our John, but then it could not have been he, he can not be changed so much; for all the world he had the air of a free white man. Whoever he was, he had something to say to Judy and Rose, and when I talked with them about it, they appeared indignant that he had noticed them. I thought no more of it until Tuesday last, when I saw the same duplicate of John passing the hotel.
I accordingly cautioned Judy and Rose to keep near us in our rooms, and so avoid him, which they seemed ready to do. Yet it is not impossible that this was their father John, who may have allured them to Canada.
I wrote an advertisement offering two hundred dollars reward for their apprehension; but Gen.--, whom I consulted, said it was useless to advertise in this free country, so I laid it aside.
I sometimes fear this loss of the servants has come upon me for having so often, when tried with them, wished them in Africa. I never wished them in Canada, I am sure.
Although much fatigued by the trial and excitement consequent on the eloping of the maids, my health is tolerably good. Our physicians
say that Congress water will have the effect of restoring Pocahontas entirely, if we remain the season. Notwithstanding our troubles, this is our choice, if you approve. I do so much regret that affairs at home will not permit you to be with us.
I am now sensible that we made a grand mistake in our plan of educating Pocahontas and Virginia. I had not the least idea that they were so dependent on Judy and Rose, until they left. They are as helpless as two dolls. They kept their room almost the whole of yesterday, hoping the maids would come and assist them in their toilet, their meals being sent up to them. To-day they have managed to aid each other, but I regret to say that they are not well dressed.
What a treasure was our Judy! She was worth her weight in gold. You know she was as ingenious as a Yankee, and had the admirable faculty of doing every thing comme-il-faut. Her taste in mantua-making was superb, and I had more confidence in her judgment of dress, than in my own. It is difficult to say how I shall get along without her, as she always made my toilet for a party, and Rose was just as indispensable to the girls. If indeed they have been decoyed to Canada, they will doubtless get home-sick and be glad to come back to us. Indeed we have always been kind to them, and they went away without the slightest provocation. We shall be obliged to hire white servants in their places for the present, which I much regret, as it will be so expensive.
The girls send best love to papa, and beg a few hundred dollars more, as they really need more ball dresses, and more jewelry, to produce that impression that is so desirable. Pocahontas, by paying a little more attention to dress and appearance, will be the belle of the season decidedly.
Very few of these northerners seem to sympathize with us in our misfortune, as southerners would. If I may judge from this trial, they are not a whole-hearted people, and not very generous in seeking to alleviate the afflicted. Indeed I am glad that I am not a wrong-headed, cold-hearted northerner. Yet these people have some very
interesting traits, and the society is excellent in this place. To-day I have met some delightful people from Georgia.
Pocahontas and Virginia will write soon, meanwhile send much love, in which joins,
Charles Chadwick, Esq., was greatly afflicted by this letter. The prospect for crops for the season was very poor, owing to the drouth, and he felt that he could ill afford to lose any of his house furniture, or plantation stock. He was pacing his room in a great tempest of mind, when Gregory, the dining-room servant, brought in Mrs. Brazen's note, sent "by Ned."
"Bless my life!" exclaimed Mr. Chadwick, as he read the rare missive, "bless my life, like Job's messengers, what will come next?"
"Gregory! here, tell Ned to send Brazen to me directly!" The messenger went his way, and for about one hour before the overseer made his appearance, Mr. Chadwick continued pacing the room, considering what was best to be done.
"Brazen," said he, when the overseer arrived, "I am in want of money. The young ladies' servants have made off for Canada."
"You don't say so!" exclaimed the man addressed. "I am in want of money!" continued Mr. C., "and our
force will be still large enough, if we make sale of some of the people. There is no other alternative. Jamie, Tray, and Kitt must be sold!"
"Richly deserve it!" said Brazen, "done made more mischief, double and thribble in a manner I may say, than all the lads on the plantations, that they have! Why there was Mrs. Brazen's two--"
"I am in want of money," interrupted Mr. C., "the plantation is getting overstocked, and next court day, you may take Jamie, Tray and Kitt, since they are disposed to steal turkeys, and sell them to the highest bidder!" "Exactly! I'll see it done!" said the overseer eagerly, chuckling within himself at the turn things were taking.
"That is all!" said Mr. Chadwick, waving his hand, when his deputy withdrew without further ceremony.
New sorrow for Jinny and her sons. No friend to help. Sabbath. Court day.
NED faithfully executed Brazen's orders about leaving some of the bones and feathers around Jinny's cabin. This was done, among other reasons, that the poor inmates might see the weighty proof against them, and have nothing to say. The next morning the overseer started early, just as the Foreman and Co. were going to the field, and stopping the three whom he had bribed Ned to prove guilty, he told them to walk back to the cabin with him, when, pointing to the bones and feathers, he said, "I see that you have made a supper of my turkeys!" The boys were perfectly confounded. They understood enough of Brazen to know that it would be useless for them to offer a word in self-defense. Even Jinny, who had just got out her wheel, ready to go to work, was silent. She knew, since her mistress was at the North, that there was no one to whom she could appeal for redress, and that all she could do was quietly to submit to just what the oppressor judged best to lay upon her. "Yes," said Brazen, "you ate my turkies!
but you will hear of it again! Go to your work, you thieves!"
The three sorrowful brothers obeyed, and as they toiled that long, long day, their hearts were swelled to bursting. They were conscious of innocence, but there was no one to plead their cause. At night they talked over their sorrows with their mother.
"We must bear it all," said she, "for we are poor slave people!"
Jamie's soul rose within him, "I will be free, or die!" said he.
"So will I!" echoed Tray.
"And I too!" said little Kitt.
"I pray the Father that you may all be free," said Jinny. "And Jinny too," said Kitt nestling close by her side. "Yes," said she, "I do pray the Father that we may all be free."
Saturday passed in the usual toil, and the grateful day of rest dawned, the last day that this sorrowful family were to spend together, and although they knew it not, yet there seemed a presentiment of evil over-shadowing them. They were gladdened in the morning of this day by hearing of the escape of Judy and Rose. They went to the wood, the place where old Scipio had lived, and there, amid the sacred solitude,
they kneeled down and prayed. Jinny had implanted a thirst for freedom in her daughters, before they were old enough to leave her, and overjoyed that they had escaped, she knelt down by old Scipio's and Agga's grave, and with her sons offered heart-felt thanksgiving to God. It was a holy, blessed day of rest to this mother and her boys, and they lingered to read, talk, and pray, in the calm cool of the forest until evening, when they returned to their lonely dwelling. Monday, court day, came, and almost every body went to the "Court House," as the little village around that building was called.
Court day is to the little villages and surrounding plantations of the South, what town meetings, or election day is to the towns of the North; there is a great gathering in both cases, and a general exchanging of news and opinions. Court day is the first Monday in each month, and after the court has set, is the time fixed for all Sheriff's sales, whether of furniture, cattle, horses or servants; hence the court house on that day is a place of great resort to the planters, overseers, and all people who are on the look-out for good bargains, or wish to know what is going on.
Overseer Brazen had instructed Ned to tell Jamie and his brothers, on Monday morning, that they were not to
work in the field, but await his orders at their cabin. The overseer came to Jinny's hut about nine o'clock, and said to the lads, "Come, stir yourselves! go with me; it's court day, and you are wanted at the court house!" To Jinny this announcement was a blow which felled her senseless to the floor, and then the heart-bursting brothers were torn away by the merciless Brazen. His carryall was at the door, and directing the three to get in, he followed with old Jeff, the driver, and they moved off as fast as the horse would go. After a ride of about two miles, the "goods and chattels," were conducted from the carryall to the jail for safe keeping, until four o'clock, at which time the auction sales were to commence.
"Tell me not of rights; talk not of the property of the planter in his slaves. I deny the right; I acknowledge not the property. The principles, the feelings, of our common nature, rise in rebellion against it. Be the appeal made to the understanding or to the heart, the sentence is the same that rejects it. In vain you tell me of laws that sanction such a claim. There is a law above all the enactments of human codes, the same throughout the world, the same in all time; such as it was before the daring genius of Columbus pierced the night of ages, and opened to one world the source of power, wealth, and knowledge, to another all unutterable woes; such it is at this day; it is the law written by the finger of God on the heart of man; and by that law, unchangeable and eternal, while men despise fraud, and loathe rapine, and abhor blood, they shall reject with indignation the wild and guilty fantasy that man can hold property in man."--Lord Brougham.
Jinny's sons in the court house jail. Auction. Jamie sold. The sale of Tray. The hammer goes down on little Kitt. Similar articles disposed of. Sales necessary. Redfield's estate. Little Ella. Contrasts.
WE left poor Jinny insensible. It was almost noon when she became conscious of her deep bereavement. "My Father!" prayed she, in her agony, "must they be all sold?" and then, as if nerved and strengthened by an inspiring thought, she arose from the earthern floor, and applied herself to her task at the wheel, that she might go down to the court house, and see what would become of her boys.
The poor lads passed a sad, weary day in the jail. They were put in a damp, moist, grated room, dark and gloomy. One half hour before the sale came on, overseer
Brazen came, and conducting them from their cell into a better apartment, gave them some food and examined their appearance, as it was important that they should show to the best advantage.
The crowd having assembled, the servants to be sold being led in by the constables, the auctioneer, hammer in hand, takes his stand directly in front of the village tavern, the jail being on the right and the court house in the rear. Jamie is first produced, old Scipio's darling, the child of his prayers, the lad who from his earliest years was haunted by the spirit of freedom, he is to be sold at public auction, his bones and sinews and immortal spirit to be bartered for--silver.
He is led out from the group, for there were more slaves to be sold, belonging to broken-down farmers, and placed on a hogshead, so that he, the article under consideration, may de seen by all present.
He is perfectly calm and self-possessed, and with folded arms awaits his disposal. Wrapt in the consciousness of his own title to himself, which no conveyance to another can destroy, there he stands, disdaining to show any emotion while he is made the gazing-stock of gentlemen of the bar, judges, lordly planters, overseers, and nigger-buyers,* * The name of those who buy slaves to sell again.
to say nothing
* The name of those who buy slaves to sell again.
of the scape-gallows loafers, who constitute the dignified patrol of the neighborhood. In the back ground, supporting herself against the side of the house, stands a lone weeping mother. Having toiled at her wheel, and accomplished her task, with an eager step she has sought this market-place to be present at the sale of her heart's treasure!
The auctioneer begins, thus introducing the youth: "This servant's name is Jamie. He is twenty-one years old, from a good family, and has an excellent character; the alleged offense for which he was sold, had been conveniently forgotten. Who 'll give us a bid, gentlemen?" "Seven hundred dollars," cries a planter, thinking how much he needs a house-servant. "Gentlemen," said the auctioneer, "I am offered seven hundred dollars for this princely servant! Why, bless my life! one so likely and well-built, active, and sound throughout, is worth twice that sum!"
"Seven hundred and fifty," screams out another in want of a groom.
"Thank you," said the auctioneer, "too cheap entirely, come, bid up gentlemen!"
"Eight hundred dollars," cried one in want of a field hand.
"You understand the subject, I perceive, sir, and yet
the trifle you offer is as nothing. Gentlemen, arouse ye! Here 's this truly valuable servant just a going for eight hundred--"
"Eight hundred and fifty dollars!" bawls the nigger-buyer, and the hammer goes down.
Jamie is removed and Tray is placed on high. He stands with downcast eyes, while despair and mental agony are legibly written on his face.
The auctioneer proceeds: "This slave's name is Tray. He is nineteen years of age, family and character good. He is clever and smart, entirely sound, teeth good; has been accustomed to the field, but will make a good groom or mechanic. Start the bid, gentlemen."
"Six hundred dollars," cries McClinch, an overseer.
"Six hundred dollars bid," says the auctioneer; "any advance on six hundred? Remember his many qualifications, and show how you appreciate merit, gentlemen!"
"Six hundred and fifty," sings out the fat landlord, Webster Webb, on the qui vive for a waiter.
"Thank you, thank you, sir," said the man of the hammer, "you deserve the whole lot. Gentlemen, here 's this strong, active, clever, and likely servant, just a going at six fifty."
"Seven hundred dollars!" cried out a planter, for the sake of his corn-field.
"Decided improvement, sir; you surpass yourself, sir! the hammer is tempted to fall; any advance on seven hundred? Just a going, once, twice, come bid up, gentlemen."
"Seven hundred and fifty dollars," cries another gentleman, in behalf of his blacksmith shop.
"Eight hundred dollars!" says Gripe, the buyer for the Richmond market, and the hammer goes down, for who can compete with him?
It was now little Kitt's turn to be sold. Tray was removed, and the youngest of the little flock placed in view of all. Jinny had borne her grief thus far in silent agony, but now her bleeding heart found relief, in a loud, wild, tumultuous cry, which thrilled the motley crowd like an electric shock. Long and shrill was the scream which rose to heaven, from that poor bereaved mother; and the God who listened to the voice of Abel's blood crying from the ground, heard that lone woman. It was her youngest born, with whom she had watched through his weary nights of pain. She had seen him slowly recover, and received him as one from the dead. She would have buried him without a murmur, but it broke her heart to have him sold into
bondage more helpless than that in which he was born.
The child echoed the maniac scream of his mother, and sought in his distress to spring from the stand to her side. But the attempt was vain. The rough grasp of the constable was on him, and he was again hoisted, and notwithstanding the confusion, the auctioneer was told to go on. But the mother's shrieks and the child's echoes continued, and several voices from the crowd added somewhat to the tumult, by loudly vociferating, "Take her away! away with her!" Accordingly the constables, in the exercise of "their duty," tore poor Jinny away and confined her in one of the cells of the jail hard by, till the sale was over, and the overseer was ready to take her home.
The crowd getting settled into something like composure, (although still hearing the wailings of the bereaved mother,) the auctioneer, after clearing his throat, went on to say, that Kitt was sixteen years of age, likely, well built, although a dwarf, and rapidly getting sound. "Gentlemen, give us a bid!"
"Four hundred dollars," cries the overseer from Oak hill.
"Four hundred bid for this excellent servant. Just the right age to make himself useful. Bid up, gentlemen! Don't sob so loud, Kitt."
"Four hundred and twenty dollars," bids one in search of a miller.
"Thank you, sir; that's better," said the auctioneer; "any more bids? Here's this very valuable servant just a going for four hundred and twenty dollars; just a going, once, twice,--"
"Four hundred and forty," bids Gripe, the nigger-buyer.
"Four forty, four forty is bid, any more bids, gentlemen? once, twice, three times"--so down went the hammer that sealed the fate of little Kitt.
But time and space fail to describe the sale of the branded things with souls, at this auction, for similar articles were placed on the hogshead, and cried, until a lot of twenty (including Jinny's sons) had been disposed of, and the nigger-buyer became the owner of them all. The freedom of each of these beings was bartered to him. Stolen property was sold under the most aggravated circumstances, for the true owners were there, and, with pleading looks and many tears, beseeching it to be restored to them. The slaveholder reasons, "You are my property, and what have I besides?"
Says outraged humanity in the slave, "You have LIBERTY."
"I can not give up my property!" says the planter.
"Give me my liberty!" pleads the bondsman.
"Down slave!" says the master; "your liberty is mine!"
"Does massa want two liberty?" expostulates the slave.
"Away dog! to your toil! what could you do with your liberty? YOU CAN NOT TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!"
"Massa, you take your liberty and let me have mine, then we see who take care of himself best."
To return. The slaves sold after Jinny's sons, belonged to an estate in the neighborhood, the proprietor of which had been called away to give account of his stewardship in another world, and as he could not take his goods with him, they must be sold.
When a planter dies at the South, it sometimes happens that his estate can be portioned off among his heirs without selling any part of it. But in most cases, in order to make an equal division, where there is no will, it becomes necessary for the parties concerned, to engage in the slave-trade for a time. The charges which conscience and humanity bring against this course, are evaded by considering the stern necessity of the case. Take for an illustration the estate of Redfield, the grandfather proprietor of which made his money by trading in slaves; in other words, he was a
"nigger-buyer." Of course a curse followed, vulture-like, and preyed on him till he took him own life, seeking to hide himself in the grave from the gaunt train of specters that haunted him. Peace, joy, and life, consumed away in him, and he was left like a tree in the desert, blighted by the lightning of heaven--dead, ere it fell, awaiting but the blast of the fierce furnace-breath to be laid low, and be covered by the drifting sands. Self-destroyer, he made his own funeral, and the earth rejoiced, for she was rid of one foul excrescence which deformed her. But the curse still preyed on the family, as we shall see. At the death of the grandson of the Redfield "nigger-buyer," his estate was found encumbered with debts; a part of which were the father's who had died in early life, and who, although he died a sot, nevertheless had a credential epitaph on his tombstone, and a pious paper obituary. When the grandson died, whose death, by the way, was hastened by a wound received in a duel, the estate was so involved as to render a sale necessary. If that had not been the case, his two sons, Frank and Fitz, being at sword's points, could never have agreed on a division of the plantation, men, women, and horses, &c. And all will perceive that an auction sale was loudly called for, and extremely proper, according to the custom of the country.
As we have before intimated, this desirable sale happened on the same day that the turkey thieves, Jamie and his brothers, were disposed of. Now it must not for a moment be supposed that Frank and Fitz Mammon received the visits of any of the family of Compunction, because they were about to trade in "the bodies and souls of men:" O no, indeed, Conscience, being seared with a red-hot iron, had taken her leave years before, doubtless thinking it idle to waste her admonitions on such reprobate drinkers. They were gentlemen, and got drunk upon wine, and just before coming to this auction, became much intoxicated on the last pipe of Madeira, which had long ago been cellared by the slave-dealing family. Yet they considered themselves immensely capable of attending to business.
The first that was sold after the hammer went down upon poor Kitt, was one little Ella, of the Redfield estate.
"Hi," says a whisper in the crowd, "that article is a little bit of a magnificent."
"A rare beautiful piece of ebony that," echoes another.
And while they are calculatingly discussing her merits, let us stop and pity her, for I fear there is not one to feel sympathy for her, in all that crowd. One;
yes, there are Jamie and his brothers; their chains constitute a bond of sympathy; they do feel for her.
Ella is sold, and sixteen besides, and the slave-buyer, after foddering them with bits and ends of ash-pones, locks them up in the jail until morning, while he goes to sleep on a bed of down at Webster Webb's tavern, near by. After a hearty supper, and corresponding potations of brandy and water, the slave-buyer, with the aid of two servants, reached his sleeping apartment. Confederate demons being in attendance, he had a tempestuous sleep, diversified with horrid dreams. Three times did the fiends arouse him, and cause him to scream for mercy; and as often did kind Peter, the waiter who slept at his feet, soothe him to sleep, for he dreamed that his prisoners were loose, and that they conspired to murder him.
Preparation for a journey. A bargain made. Black Brownson exposed to slavery. Gripe's disappointment. Laments his stupidity. Cruelty. The caravan stops for the night.
GRIPE arose from his haunted couch on Tuesday morning, in a fever of a hurry. Having commenced the day by taking a glass of water, made stiff with brandy, he was very generous in distributing his oaths to all who came in his way. He ordered that an extra good breakfast of corn-bread and buttermilk, be served to the people in the jail, as a long day's journey was before them. He then despatched his own breakfast, consisting of muffins, waffles, cold beef and bacon, honey, butter, and coffee. With the aid of his two assistants, Stithe and Strong, he then arranged his new property, for the journey to Richmond, fifty miles distant. His large slave-wagon or carryall, was drawn up before the tavern, two horses being harnessed thereto. Nine children under eight years of age, and four adults, were packed in this vehicle. Little Ella and Kitt were to ride on the same horse with Gripe, the one before,
and the other behind him; the five remaining, including Jamie and Tray, were to walk a part of the way, and then to take the places of the adults in the carryall.
The two men who assisted Gripe, named Stithe and Strong, also had a place in this caravan; the former drove the carryall, while the latter rode on horseback to guard and drive those who walked.
As the landlord, Webster Webb, wished, his friend Black Brownson (who had atrociously offended him) started about an hour before the slave company, and designed spending the day at a village called Landham, about ten miles distant. When the slave-buyer was nearly ready to go, the landlord waddled up to him and commenced conversation.
"Pretty good speculation this of yours, friend Gripe?"
"Right-smart fair, I reckon," replied Mr. Gripe.
"Would you like to purchase any more people, to add to your lot?" inquired Webster Webb.
"Why, yes, I am never tired of buying. The more I buy, the more profit. Though as for that matter, there is precious little profit. I barely keep soul and body together by the practice of my profession; barely support Mrs. Gripe. (Aside; although it's true I have a few thousands laid by.) But let 's see, the more the merrier; have you any to sell?"
"Yes," replied the landlord; "I have one valuable servant that I wish to dispose of."
"Very well," said the buyer, "how 'll you trade?"
"You will find my man, Bill Snow," continued Webster Webb, "in my sulky some few miles ahead, if you hurry on. I sent him off ostensibly on an errand, but really to dispose of in this manner. If he should reach Landham village before you do, you may find it more difficult to get possession of him, as he is cunning as a fox. So you had best hurry on, if you purchase him."
"Describe him out and out," said the buyer.
"He is about forty years old," said Webster Webb, "looks much older, of rather swarthy complexion, has good teeth, and is sound throughout. He is dressed genteely, being my body servant, is well spoken and plausible, and will try to pass off as a gentleman; of course you 'll take no notice of that. If he resists, use the hand-cuffs."
"Never fear us," replied Gripe, "we know our profession. But how 'll ye trade?"
"O, I dare say we shall not differ about that; any thing reasonable," replied Mr. Webb.
"But your terms!" said Gripe; "your terms."
"Well, then, as I wish to give you a bargain, I will sell him for $800, on sixty days credit."
"Done! it 's a bargain!" said the speculator. "But the horse and sulky?"
"You may leave them at the village tavern, and I will send for them," said the landlord.
Each one goes his way chuckling with satisfaction; the one is pleased at the success of his project to play a game on his neighbor, the other at the rare bargain he has made.
All things being in readiness, the caravan starts from the tavern; and as Gripe is anxious to overtake his property that is ahead, he presses on at a brisk rate, leaving the carryall and the foot-passengers quite in the rear.
Meanwhile he congratulates himself on his great gains, and sees in perspective, a splendid fortune in his possession. Visions of prodigious estates well stocked with laborers, rise before him as his steed moves along, and little Ella and Kitt, tired with weeping, remain stupified with grief, while he complacently mutters to himself, swinging his cow-hide, "all mine; lawfully mine; made by constant trade in four short years." Just at this moment, coming to a turn in the road, he saw his latest purchase, riding at his ease like a gentleman, as the buyer expressed it, "for all the world like a lord; as unconcerned as if he were the master and not the slave."
"Halloa, my man!" shouts the purchaser, riding up alongside of the sulky: "halloa, there; let me have the pleasure of introducing your new master, that's myself, d' ye hear?"
"Sir!" exclaimed Black Brownson, drawing in his reins in unfeigned astonishment. "Sir; do you mean to insult me?"
"So, so; this is all sorts of impudence," said the drover; "but your master has warned me of your tricks. No more of them then, or I 'll give you a taste of my cowhide," at the same time giving said weapon a threatening sweep over his head.
"What under the heavens do you mean?" growled out Black Brownson, his eyes flashing fire as he spoke.
"That you are my servant by lawful purchase; and that you may as well keep your impudence to yourself, if you know what's for your health," said he of the good bargain.
"Not so fast, sir; not so fast, sir," exclaimed Black Brownson, "here is a mistake, all resulting from my enduring black skin. I have always feared to travel farther south, lest I should be sold for a slave; but bless me, I never expected to be sold not ten miles from my own plantation to a "nigger-buyer."
"Nevertheless," said Gripe, "I shall make bold to
arrest you as my property, and, putting on the hand-cuffs, give you in charge to my overseer Stithe, who is coming up with the people I bought yesterday. I shall arrest you, I say, unless you can prove on the spot that you are not Bill Snow, who was sold to me not one hour ago by Webster Webb."
The light now burst in upon Black Brownson. He saw through the trick of his offended friend. "Here's proof sufficient to convince you," said he, taking out his pocket-book, which, by the way, was well lined with bank notes, "proof sufficient. My name is Col. Brownson, generally known as Black Brownson. If these (showing sundry papers) will not satisfy you, I will join your company, and at the next village, where I am well known, I can convince you beyond a doubt."
Gripe here threw out a profusion of expletives which we can not repeat, and continued, "I have been mightily hoaxed. I declare that I bought you, not an hour ago, of Webster Webb, as his servant Bill Snow, and I have half a mind now to take you to market, that I am," continued he, half in jest, "it 's too good a 'spec' to be lost, that it is."
"Jupiter Ammon," exclaimed Col. Brownson; "this is more than southern blood can bear! I 'll challenge the old duck; he 's not to insult me through a vile
slave-dealer," said he through his teeth, in a lower tone.
"Vile slave-dealer! eh?" echoed that character, for he overheard, "forget that you are my property yet, do you? and that I intend to sell you to labor for life on a sugar plantation!"
"Minion!" flashed Black Brownson, "bottle your wrath!" and then giving the reins and blows to his horse, he soon distanced his master, as every spirited slave, black or white, is bound to do.
Said Mr. Gripe to himself, "I have made a fair bargain for this man, and although he is Col. Brownson, if I thought I could carry the matter through, and get him out of the reach of his friends, I should not have the least hesitation to do it, for it is plainly too good a 'spec' to be lost. Let 's see, $1200, the same as taken out of my pocket. Fool that I am! If I was not tied up to these varments, (meaning little Ella and Kitt,) I would hand-cuff and gag him directly, and have him ready to pack in the bottom of the carryall against it came up. However it 's too late now," said he despairingly, as he saw the sulky gentleman almost out of sight, "it 's too late! what a fool I have been. With half an eye I ought to have seen that it was a hoax, and have made a serious matter of it! how profoundly stupid!"
Thus he continued to lament his ill-luck in the escape of his property, and seeing that it was useless to attempt to make his loaded horse overtake the runaway, he fell back, waiting for the carryall and attendants to come up. In fiendish mood, from pure malice, he now began to torment the children who had no one to protect them.
"Now," said he to Ella, "I shall let you fall under the horse's feet;" at the same time jostling the child as if about to execute his threat.
"Oh, please!" said she with a beseeching look which would have softened any heart not harder than the nether millstone.
"Please," echoed Kitt involuntarily, in his trembling for Ella.
"Please, indeed!" roughly growled the drover; "speak again, and I'll toss you off, and break your neck."
"Don't hurt him, he'll not done say please again," softly whispered Ella.
"You want a stroke I see," said he fiercely, at the same time giving her a blow on her bare arm, which brought the blood. The little girl scringed and wept in silence, for she was a poor defenseless slave, and had no one to redress her wrong.
The carryall now came up, and with it all the company,
for those that walked were obliged to keep immediately behind it, the horses being driven moderately. Nothing unusual had happened to the party of captives in and behind the carryall. The children in the vehicle had, some of them, got weary and cried themselves to sleep. Others were yet weeping for their absent mothers; for with all the interest felt by the slave-dealer in their disposal and welfare, there was no mother's love in it; and of this the children were sensible, although not great reasoners.
The five slaves on foot now took the places of the four adults in the carryall. Gripe drank a quantity of brandy out of a bottle, which he drew from his saddle-bags, and directly began to feel better, which was happy for Ella and Kitt.
The sun was beating upon them like a furnace, and they were scorched to fainting. Finally the child Ella fell asleep, and as the drover reined his horse alongside of the crowded vehicle, Jamie's eye fell upon the lacerated arm of the little sufferer. It nerved him to madness. "I will be free," said he to himself, "come life or come death! I will be free, and Ella shall be free too."
Richmond city lies about fifty miles from Mulberry Court House, the place from which the caravan started.
As the weather was excessively hot, the drover now thought it the best economy to divide the distance equally, and take two days for the journey. Accordingly, about seven o'clock in the evening of one of Virginia's hottest days, our company halted in a pleasant wood, bordering on the James' river. As there was no dwelling houses or places of accommodation for travelers in the vicinity, Gripe and his confederates decided to encamp.
The sun went down in glory, and left hanging in the firmament over the place of his rest, a gorgeous drapery of clouds. Earnestly had he gazed on the human woe of the southern land, and now he turns away.
"Bright sun, thou art leaving
The land of the slave,
Thou surely art grieving,
His joy is his grave.
Of gazing on sorrow
Enough for to-day;
'T will come in thy way.
Then out on the prairie,
Be gilding the flower,
Forget thou art weary,
Of joy have an hour.
Bathe in the Pacific,
And short time forget
The Slave curse terrific
On this land is set."
"Free is the sunlight,
And water, and air,
But Slavery's a blight,
A curse and a snare."
The encampment supper. Soul-buyers helpless. Jamie's plan for the escape. Slave fear. The flight.
A COMFORTABLE encampment was soon made by the slave people, after the following manner:
The wagon was drawn under an oak of gigantic dimensions, opposite which several saplings were bent and fastened under a horizontal bough extending from the monarch tree. A quantity of boughs and leaves were spread over all, forming a complete shield from the night air. A good fire was made at a little distance, for the double purpose of cooking supper, and keeping off musquitoes. Two or three people, with one overseer, went to the river for fish, while two, conducted by the second overseer, went to a distant dwelling for other necessaries to make out a supper. Jamie and Tray, with the three remaining laborers, were busy collecting a supply of wood for the night, boiling a kettle of water for tea, and clearing a spot of ground for the table
to be spread, and for the people to sleep at night. The ground was soon cleared of the decayed wood and obstinate underbrush; and an Indian blanket spread on the torn turf for the drovers' table. All things being ready, they awaited the return of the absent companies.
In about an hour they appeared, laden with oysters and fish from the river, and with eating vessels, milk, rum, butter, &c., from the farm-house. As Jamie had the most activity and intelligence of the "lot," it fell to him to perform the duties of cook and waiter; and while he was busy cooking the food from the river, the three "drovers" kept the rest of the people busy pulling grass by hand, and carrying it to the place where the horses were tied by the wagon, and thus, in process of time, those animals were supplied. Long ere that was accomplished, however, the inviting repast prepared by Jamie, for the three white men, was smoking on the table. The drovers were not backward in sitting down and enjoying it, although the men who labored for them, and had had such abundant exercise, were almost famished; and the children lying in the carryall, were sleeping supperless after their tiresome ride. Several of them were now awakened by the pinchings of hunger, joined with the smell of the savory food, but they must patiently wait until their masters had finished
their long sitting at the table, before they could have their tantalized appetite appeased. The brandy bottles having been replenished, the slave-traders showed, by their devotion to them, that they considered their contents the most desirable thing on the table. All three were made intolerably cross, as effect first of said bottles; but by and by they became as comfortably silly and good natured, as they had been the opposite. The mirth and jokes of inebriates were now in the ascendant, while reason and judgment, instead of being on the meridian, were below the horizon. Uproar and confusion being the order of the table, not a captive dared to approach to satisfy his pressing wants. Jamie gave his companions of the food still broiling on the fire, as soon as he saw that the masters were too intoxicated to take notice. And when, at last, they slept in their drunkenness, he, with two or three of his comrades, quietly moved them to the beds prepared for them under the cover of the boughs, and gave of the food to all the company. Said Jamie to his people, "Eat, for we have work to do to-night."
And while they were eating, he pointed out to them the fine opportunity they had for escaping, but his proposal was received with great fear and distrust.
Said the oldest man present, whose name was Gumfrey,
in a whisper, "what if massa Gripe, dare, wake up; he tear us to pieces like de lion, he so mad."
"Never fear him to-night," said Jamie aloud, "he is chained fast, and here is his master," raising his empty bottles; "he does love to serve his master Jug." This speech was received with applause by the people, although they shrank away from the bold thought of striking out for freedom. Ella, Kitt, and Tray, had clustered near Jamie, and although his earnest efforts in arousing his people to be free that night, left him little leisure or inclination to eat, yet he found time to help little Ella, and also to bind some healing leaves on her bruised arms.
After the people had finished supper, Jamie again commenced the work of arousing them. Rising and holding in his hand one of the three jugs emptied by the sleeping keepers, "Look at this!" said he. All the company looked at it, save the tired children whom Kitt and Tray meanwhile were putting to bed.
"The jug is the master of the drunken white men!" said he, pointing to them, "I'll take care of one master," said he, throwing the bottle with all his strength against a rock near by and dashing it to pieces, "and now I tell you to-night, that I will escape from the slaves of the master I have broken!"
Ordinarily, most of the people were dull compared with Jamie, and the thought of "escaping," which he had suggested, almost stupefied them. At the quarters, corn-field and whipping-post, they had been taught to think that the most fearful sin they could commit against God and man was wishing to be free, and some of them prayed the Savior to forgive them for having such temptations! At length Gumfrey, feeling more and more tempted to strike out for freedom, said to Jamie:
"You ought to be white man! you no fear nothing!"
"I fear God," replied Jamie, "and He wants to have us free."
"We slave people will follow you, and go where you go!" said Trumpet, another of the party.
'Hope massa Gripe won't done wake up," said Alex, as the love of liberty began to dawn in his mind.
"Never mind, he'll sleep sound till morning," said Jamie, "nothing to fear from him."
"We be safe if we kill de sleeping massas," said Gumfrey, who had too often been advanced to the whipping-post for supposed misdemeanors, to admire slavery.
A shudder passed through this little group, and Jamie said, "no indeed! we will not stain our hands in their blood!"
"No, no," murmured the people, while they trembled at the thought.
The company then taking with them what they could carry of the remains of the supper, cast a hasty look on the sleeping masters, and set out for the free country, with Jamie as their leader.
As the number of captives that left Webster Webb's were twenty, and nine children were left on the encampment, the free party consisted of eleven. Jamie rightly judged that very much of the success of the undertaking depended upon him, consequently all the sagacity of his nature was called into exercise. He foresaw if they kept in a body there would be more danger of being recaptured. For even if all had sufficient caution to keep hid during day-light, so many traveling together, would leave a trail which would be easily followed. They had proceeded about an hour in as noiseless a manner as possible, when Jamie proposed to the fugitives a plan of separating. To this there was much opposition. There was not one that had hardihood and courage enough, to lead any one of the companies necessary to be formed.
"Unless we separate we shall all be taken before sunset!" said Jamie, "If we go by two and two, we may all escape!"
The principle of fear is strong, and the people listened to this counsel. So Jamie, Kitt, and Ella were to go together; Tray with Gumfrey; and the six men remaining were divided into three companies of two each.
"Now," said Jamie, "we must pray the Father to help us. We must travel only by night and through the darkest woods, and always find a good hiding-place for the day if we can."
Said Gumfrey, "how shall we know where to go?"
Jamie then told them that they must make the north star their guide. "Follow that for two moons and you will find the free country," said he.
Then with hasty farewells the five companies took different paths.
"Oh who can tell what days, what nights she spent,
Of tideless, waveless, sailless, shoreless woe?"
Jinny a maniac. What the fugitive must expect. Jamie and his companions. The buyers at the encampment. A discovery. The pursuit. Progress of Jamie and those with him.
POOR Jinny! bereft of all she had to love, who can think of her without weeping? Her children sold, as she supposed, into hopeless slavery, she is carried to her desolate cabin by overseer Brazen, the cup of her sorrows overflowing. We can not portray her sufferings, no pen can describe them; nor can we stay to mark the course by which in her lonely hut, madness seized her brain, and how, with no kindred by, she raved in her delirium, how she alternated between the maniac-laugh and the mother's scream of anguish, pleading that her lost children might be restored. But her's is not the only case of suffering among the poor slave people.*
* "The horrors of this traffic in human beings, it is impossible to depict. Imagination, in her wildest flights, can scarcely conceive of the suffering and horrible atrocities committed upon the victims of this trade. Think one moment of the sufferings of the forty thousand men, women, and children of all ages, sold out of Virginia alone, in 1836, at an average price of six hundred dollars, making twenty-four millions in one year, for her trade in blood. Scenes transpire under this system sufficient to make a man of human feelings, should he witness them, go mad. This foul wickedness Congress can stop. The effect of its abolition upon slavery can be seen, when it is remembered that one portion of the South grows slaves for sale, as Vermonters do sheep; while the other portion buys them, to exhaust them in their corn-fields, and rice swamps. By the abolition of the trade, that portion which breeds slaves would find itself dying of surfeit from a surplus population, for which there would be no outlet but in emancipation. The purchasing or exhausting states would find themselves dying of starvation, for want of the laboring power which they had used heretofore, but which then there would be no means of obtaining, except through emancipation. Thus by your vote, and the votes of northern men, can slavery be struck lifeless at both extremities * * * * It reflects little credit on our national legislature, that, while they have declared the foreign slave trade piracy, punishable with death, they have silently tolerated a domestic traffic equally deserving the law's extremest penalty. Let us hope that freemen may at last vindicate the power of the Constitution by exerting to the utmost every one of its prerogatives in behalf of humanity, and the inalienable rights of liberty."
* "The horrors of this traffic in human beings, it is impossible to depict. Imagination, in her wildest flights, can scarcely conceive of the suffering and horrible atrocities committed upon the victims of this trade. Think one moment of the sufferings of the forty thousand men, women, and children of all ages, sold out of Virginia alone, in 1836, at an average price of six hundred dollars, making twenty-four millions in one year, for her trade in blood. Scenes transpire under this system sufficient to make a man of human feelings, should he witness them, go mad. This foul wickedness Congress can stop. The effect of its abolition upon slavery can be seen, when it is remembered that one portion of the South grows slaves for sale, as Vermonters do sheep; while the other portion buys them, to exhaust them in their corn-fields, and rice swamps. By the abolition of the trade, that portion which breeds slaves would find itself dying of surfeit from a surplus population, for which there would be no outlet but in emancipation. The purchasing or exhausting states would find themselves dying of starvation, for want of the laboring power which they had used heretofore, but which then there would be no means of obtaining, except through emancipation. Thus by your vote, and the votes of northern men, can slavery be struck lifeless at both extremities * * * * It reflects little credit on our national legislature, that, while they have declared the foreign slave trade piracy, punishable with death, they have silently tolerated a domestic traffic equally deserving the law's extremest penalty. Let us hope that freemen may at last vindicate the power of the Constitution by exerting to the utmost every one of its prerogatives in behalf of humanity, and the inalienable rights of liberty."
At this moment, there are thousands of southern hearts, laid open, bare and bleeding, by the merciless slave-trader, who hesitates not to tear away the children bound up in the life of the mother, for the sake of a little glittering dust.
Much as we feel for poor "crazy Jinny," as they call her at the Monmouth quarter, we must leave her, to follow her children in their perilous enterprise.
In separating into parties, Jamie had quite a struggle in his mind, for he longed to have his two brothers and Ella go with him; but Tray decided the matter, possessed as he was of some independence and manliness of character, by saying that Kitt and Ella must go with Jamie, while he himself would go with any one of the party. Jamie advised the people to cross their
tracks, to swim and re-swim the creeks as much as possible, so as to put the dogs at fault, should they follow. Commending themselves to God, they went on their daring journey; for he that escapes from the life-prison of the South must peril all in the attempt. He must thread his way through the unfrequented by-ways of the forest, and swim creeks and rivers, for the bridges were not made for him; they belong to his elder, paler brother. He must eat of the nuts, berries and roots held out to him by wild Nature's kind hand; for the stranger's home belongs not to him, although a weary stranger. He may not seek a human habitation; only the wild dens of the forest will entertain him. He must linger concealed around the outskirts of civilization, for man has proscribed him. Lone, weary, hunted, he must stealthily pursue his way, under the "eaves of the Alleghanies," starting like the frightened hare at every trembling leaf; for his dreams by day as well as by night are of the pursuer. Do not the struggles of the bondman to get his head above the stagnant waters of slavery, and breathe unstrangled the air of freedom, deserve a place on the historic page, infinitely above the lofty warrior's deeds of conquest? In the one case a noble thirst for liberty incites to action, while in the other, ambition is the ruling star.
Jamie and his companions, with whom we have most to do, traveled all this first night, weary as they were, and the distance accomplished was probably about fifteen miles. A part of the time their course led them through open fields, but as the morning began to dawn, they sought the solitude of a thick wood, and penetrating into its depths, found a safe hiding-place in a close thicket of tangled hollies and laurels. Jamie now sat Ella down, for he had carried her a part of the way, and said, "Here we must stay till dark again! men and dogs will be out to-day to take us!"
"What shall we do," said Kitt, creeping into the covert, "when our fish is gone?"
"Do," said Jamie cheerfully, "do; why we must do like the birds and squirrels, eat berries, and nuts and roots, where we can find them!"
"Yes," said Ella, "and sometimes when we go through the corn-fields, when it's dark, we can eat a little corn!"
"Oh," exclaimed Kitt, "that would be stealing!"
"No indeed," replied Jamie "it's not stealing for us to take a little corn when we need it. We have a better right to the corn than men have to us."
And thus freely whispering their minds on a subject which has caused some dispute among wiser heads, the
three ate a little of the last night's supper, and as the birds awoke with song, weary, they fell asleep. The day was almost past when they awoke, and the darkness seemed coming on, but they had sagacity enough to know that it was night earlier within the fastnesses of this dark forest than without; they accordingly kept quiet until it was safe to proceed. Tray and Gumfrey made almost the same distance as the three mentioned, the first night. But the other companions, in two or three hours after they lost the inspiring presence of Jamie and Tray, began to lag, and thinking sleeping better business than traveling, found hiding-places in the woods, and went to sleep.
We will now return a moment to the encampment. The sun pointed at nine o'clock the next morning when the men who were overcome by rum the night previous, began to think about rubbing their eyes open. Gripe was greatly confused in his mind, but thinking, when he saw that the people were absent, that they were faithful and true, and busy in fishing for breakfast, he felt no alarm. Yet at length a solitary suspicion seemed to find its way into his topsey-turvey cranium.
"Say," said he to Stithe on his right hand, "say, where are them are stupid servants, that they don't done tote in our breakfast?"
"Humph!" growled out the spoken-to, getting half an eye open, "humph! run away, I reckon!"
"I know better than that," said Strong, coming to the rescue, "I know better than that, for when I left watching at midnight, they were all as snug asleep as need be."
"Sure of it?" interrogated the slave dealer.
"As sure as I am living!" answered Strong.
"And what's the reason you left watching?" sternly interrogated the slave buyer.
"Thought all was safe, and I might rest a bit," said he demurely.
"Well," said the drover, "we may as well stir ourselves and be bringing them back if they have run away." Saying this he began to move toward the wagon. "Bless me!" said he, as he reached that vehicle, "here's some of the lot left, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine! All with your eyes open, eh? Where's the people?" Trembling with fear, not one of them dared to answer, not comprehending what the fierce man meant.
"Why don't you answer?" roared Gripe. "I say," said he, turning to his confederates, "the best way to find out where the people is, will be to whip these children within an inch of their lives, and so make 'em tell."
"Oh no!" said Stithe, that would take too much time, and they were sound asleep when the people left, most likely."
"Well," said Gripe, "we must tie these that's left, or they will be gone when we come back."
After a short consultation it was agreed that Stithe should stay on the ground with the children, while the drover and Strong harnessed the horses to the carryall, and went back in the direction of Webster Webb's, for in their sagacity they judged that the people being homesick, had turned their steps thither. This remarkable acuteness was mainly owing to the effects of last night's debauch. Their reason having been absent, had not as yet quite returned.
After eating a "mouthful," the two got into the wagon and went off at a brisk rate, when they reached the traveled road. On they went, asking of every one they met, for some news of the runaways, and expecting at every turn in the road to come up with them; but as they were as often disappointed, this called for vollies of profanity from the nigger-buyer and his associate, whilst he mercilessly lashed his poor horses, as if they were not quite blameless in causing the misfortune. About three o'clock in the evening, the two drove up before Webster Webb's and found to their utter consternation,
that the escaped property had neither been seen or heard of at that place. As matters were putting on a serious face, Gripe bargained to change horses with the landlord, and after a hasty repast, and leaving advertisements and rewards for the runaways in the post-office, to be inserted in the Richmond papers, made the best of his way back to the forest. Now while the war-note is sounding, and the slave-dealer, by the voice of the press, is calling all Virginia to turn out blood-hounds, and arrest these apostates from her peculiar institutions, let us peep at the trio we left hid away in the holly thicket.
"It is time to go," said Jamie, after they had finished the fragments of the last night's meal. The three then started, Kitt and Ella noiselessly following Jamie. It was now quite dark and their progress necessarily slow, the way being obstructed with underbrush. At length, after a toilesome walk of about an hour, they struck into a path grass-grown and as soft as velvet. Ella's little bare feet were badly lacerated by the bushes and briars, and she said as she pressed the soft path, "O Jamie, let's walk here all the time, it's so very nice and soft!"
"But we may meet somebody who will take us again!" said he.
"No we wo'nt!" said Ella, "we don't want to see any body!"
"Some people want to see us," replied he.
"I can't hardly see you, it's so dark," replied little Ella, "and they'll not see us."
"Well," whispered Jamie, "if we walk here we must not speak." So they noiselessly proceeded a long time on the soft turf; at length they found a narrow branch path which they took, walking one before the other, Indian file. This wound them among the majestic trees, and the moon, from a high point in her observatory, flittered her rays through the leafy net-work of the forest, in showers of silver. Her cheerful light is a precious boon to the earth, mantled with gloom at the departure of the sun. But the flying slave, much as he loves her light, is often obliged to shrink from it, and plunge into the deep shade of the forest, when near the habitations of men, fearing lest the same kindly light that would guide his weary feet will also point him out to his pursuers.
An encounter. Fears. Kind treatment. Old Archy's plans for their safety. They seek the mountain cave.
AT length our poor wanderers issued from the wood, for the heroic leader judged it best to travel west for a time, and get shielded from the dreaded foe by the sheltering eaves of the Alleghanies. To do this it became necessary to cross a tract of cultivated land, before entering a forest through which they could reach the mountains. Jamie had an indefinite idea that it would be safer, if a good hiding-place could be found, to remain secreted some time in the mountains, as pursuers would be dragging all the Northern routes with their nets, to secure the deserters. After traveling a long time, their path drew up before a deep and sluggish creek, with the like of which the country abounds. Jamie, hushing the fears of little Ella, fastened her to his back and swam across, with Kitt by his side. After wringing the water from their tattered clothes as best they could, finding that they were in a corn-field, they gathered some of the ripe ears and ate, for their long walk
made them hungry. They were just emerging from this extensive field, when a dog from a lone cabin on the border came fiercely upon them. But Jamie and Kitt had seen fierce dogs kept by servants as well as masters, and by managing skillfully they kept him off, until they could call for help, since the faithful sentry would not let them pass without.
"Help! help!" shouted they, while Ella clung to them for protection. And directly there came out of the cabin a white-headed old man with a lighted pine-knot in his hand, and a blanket on his shoulders. He silenced the fierce dog, who with his eyes still fixed on the strangers, crouched at his master's feet. This was a moment of painful anxiety to our travelers. Friend or foe, they knew not unto which, they were about to deliver themselves. But the kind tones of old Archy as he said,
"Bless me! how came you here children?" set their palpitating hearts a little at rest. There was a kindness in his eye, a goodness of heart that shone out in his face and manner, inspiring confidence, and had not our little party been so startled by the sudden attack of the dog, which awakened the whole force of their fears, doubtless the first glance would have composed them. But in answering the very natural question of old Archy,
Jamie in a few words told him the leading items of "how they came there," and while he briefly related their simple story, more than once the old slave "took a tear out of the corner of his eye."
"Come in! come in!" said old Archy, "you're all wet, come in! you must get dry and warm by my fire before you go farther." With these words he led the way into his cabin, and when he had seated his guests, raked open the coals which were covered with ashes, and kindled a fire. Then he put out the light, to avoid exciting the suspicion of any night-walking servants, or the patrol, which, for aught he knew, might be on their rounds. While the travelers were drying their clothes by the good blazing fire, old Archy baked some of the bread which was to have been his portion on the morrow, by the help of his sister Edy, whom he aroused for this purpose, and who, being almost deaf, had not heard the bustle occasioned by the coming of the trio. As "allowance day" was only the week before, the aged couple had still a piece of meat left. A part of this they cooked, which with the bread made quite a comfortable meal for our hunted ones. But a short time was consumed in making these arrangements, "For," said the old man, (who had had a life experience of slavery and fully sympathized with them in their
attempt to get free,) "for," said he, "you must reach the mountains before morning." And while they were eating, being dry and warm, he told them that he once set out for the North, and being successful in reaching a free country, ventured back to get his wife and children. He wished to guide them to the happy land he had found, but alas! they had been sold during his absence to a Louisianian plantation, "and" said he, weeping, "I could not enjoy my freedom without them!" The tears chased each other down the cheeks of the kind old man, as he said this. "I have been a freeman" said he, "but must die a slave."
After having finished their simple repast, old Archy conducted them a short distance on their way, and directed them to a cave in which they could reside until the fury of the storm was spent, until the pursuers, for want of success, should think it useless to search longer on the traveled routes. Said the old man, as they stopped on the verge of the forest which stretched on to the mountains, "Follow this path, until you hear water falling from rocks, strike out for that, and it will lead you to a cave which has hid many a poor man, when the dogs have been after him. If you make haste you will get there by sunrise, and to-morrow night, I'll done come and see you." Saying this, he left the runaways
to seek the asylum which Nature had provided, and warily, for he feared it was patrol night, returned to his cabin. He reached it in safety, for that worthy guard was entirely unsuspicious of him, and confined its surveillance to the people congregated at the quarters, about one fourth of a mile distant.
The progress of the party in the woods was slow, as Ella's feet were so torn that she could barely walk, and to relieve her, Jamie carried her most of the way. The wood was now composed of pines which had grown up on corn-fields, exhausted by the wasteful management of overseers and slaves. After following the path over these old fields for about two miles, they entered a forest very different, consisting of oak, cedar, gum, beach, aspen, &c. Directly they found a good path, used by the wagoner, and followed it for a long distance, stopping every now and then, to hear the signal which the waterfall was to give, to guide them to the cave. At last when they were ready to despair, the wished-for sound was heard, and the travelers in the dark commenced fighting their way through the thick underbrush of which the wood was sufficiently guilty, in the direction of the waterfall.
"When shall we find the cave?" said little Ella.
"Right soon, I hope," said Jamie.
"Now we are lost!" said Kitt, "for we can't hear the waters."
"Lost!" said Ella, "lost! I'm glad then!"
"Glad we are lost!" exclaimed Jamie.
"Yes, dat I is!" said she decidedly.
"And why, honey?" asked Jamie.
"If we are lost," said the little girl, "the men and the dogs can't find us!"
"Yes they can, perhaps. Here we will rest a bit," said he, "may be we shall hear the water presently, and then we will go on." The three then sat down and listened intently, but they heard no sound.
They had remained silent but a little while, when Ella, tired out with the long journey, and the excitement of the night, fell asleep, and Jamie leaving her in care of Kitt went in search of their guide, the waterfall. He found that the ground had descended so gradually that they were not aware of it, and they were now in quite a glen; thinking if he went up the opposite side of the glen, which was steep and abrupt, he would be guided, he forced his way up the ascent, when the joyful sound burst upon his ear. As the rope to the drowning man, as bread to the famishing, was the sound to Jamie's ear. With the agility of a deer he bounded back to the spot where he left his partners
in peril, and awaking Ella, told them how near they were to the cave. The morning was dawning, and mutually cautioning each other, they proceeded as still as possible. They were much longer in gaining the ascent, than our hero had been when alone, for Ella and Kitt did not possess quite his strength and enthusiasm, and found clambering up the rugged side of the dell not very easy work. At length they gained the height, where the roar of the cascade was distinctly heard, at which Ella gave an exclamation of joy; they were so near home, as she called the cavern, for from the description of old Archy, in her childish fancy, she pictured it as a very desirable place.
"God might have made the earth a plain,
With never a hiding-place,
Nor refuge from Oppression's reign
Its whole extent to grace.
He might have made the hills entire,
With not a cavern or cave--
And with no winds to fan the fire
Of Freedom for the slave!
And with no forest drapery,
To shield the flying well,
And with no web of evergreen
To bid him safely dwell.
Nor in kind Nature's hand have placed
So many nuts and roots--
Nor yet have ripened in the shade
So many pleasant fruits.
God made the slave's hiding-places. The cave is found. Gripe and his overseer disappointed. Return to the encampment. Go to Richmond. Slave-dealer's advertisement. Sensation.
AS we were saying, the three gained the acclivity of the glen, and listened enraptured to the sound, which was the forest guide old Archy had appointed to the place of refuge.
"Now for the cave!" said Jamie, "we shall soon find it!"
"Where? where?" asked Ella in bewilderment, glad to hear of the cave.
"I'll show you, right soon!" said he, taking her up
and plunging boldly through the thick growth of laurel and shrub-oak, in the direction indicated by the guide, who now cheered them on through the closely woven thicket in louder and louder tones. The mountain stream sung its wild song of freedom as it bounded from rock to rock, and at length dashed down some sixty feet in one beautiful cascade, into a quiet and flower-fringed mimic lake. Our fugitives at length saw the lake and the stream, but they did not stop to note their beauty, for the cave only occupied their attention.
"Rest a little while," said Jamie, pointing to the moss-grown roots of an oak which projected from the earth, "I will soon be back;" and directly he was out of sight. The two thus left by the lake were hushed and silent, having some fears that their old robbers should come upon them before Jamie returned. The sun was abroad, but not in this dense forest; for the old patriarchs there had put their heads together, forming a combination which, for the most part, excluded the piercing eye of the king of day. This was that the flowers, which bloom in sequestered life, the orchis tribe, &c., might be quietly secluded, being veiled by green drapery, from the earnest gaze of Sol, and, too, that the free spirits of the place, invited by shadowy
coolness to pleasing contemplation, might still preside as guardians of the green-wood.
As Archy had directed, Jamie traced the cataract some distance up the mountain, then crossed it on a rustic bridge formed by an upturned Lireodendron. On gaining the other side, after a little searching, he found the cave; its entrance hid behind a thick growth of laurel, overrun with eglantine, in tangled luxuriance. To clear away impediments and enter, was quick work. The apartment was, in Jamie's words, "as large as two cabins," and in the dim light he saw enough to comfort himself with the thought that it would afford a safe asylum, until it would do to proceed on their journey. Bounding back, he was soon by the side of Kitt and Ella, telling them to come with him, and then the three went up the mountain side, crossed the ravine by the wind's bridge, and gained the cave.
"Oh," exclaimed Ella, "how dark it is!"
"Never mind," said Jamie, "it will be lighter soon."
"Yes," said Kitt, "it's right-smart lighter now."
They now began to explore the rock-ceiled apartment. It was excavated by the hand of the Creator; and in two places the sides of the cave shelved out so as to form berths; and the straw and dried leaves laid thereon, showed that the room had been inhabited.
The entrance being so well guarded, the cave was rather dark, but this made it all the safer, and was cause of congratulation to all the pilgrims that tarried there. Having become a little acquainted with their abode, and made their bed of dried leaves and moss, soon they were fast asleep,--and while the sweet restorer has care of them, let us look again at some deeply interested in the runaways--Gripe and Company.
We can not stop to tell how Black Brownson challenged Webster Webb for trading him away, but did not fight, since Webb would not, who said in the course of a conciliatory speech, "Besides, my friend, you are not the first man having a right to his freedom, that has been sold."
When Gripe and his overseer returned to the forest from their unsuccessful pursuit, it was late at night. The children, during the day, had been hard driven by Stithe, who, being a Northener, knew how much labor could be performed by them, when there was a proper incentive, and in the absence of this incentive, substituted the lash. Thus they collected a large quantity of grass for the horses, and dry decayed wood for the fire, and when night came, picking up what scattered crumbs of food they could find, they were permitted to sleep in the shelter made by the bent saplings and
boughs. Now that Gripe and Strong had arrived, there was a great uproar, for they left in the morning with the strongest assurance that they would bring the runaways back, "hide and hair," and so miserably to have failed in executing their threat, besides being jolted almost to death in the crazy carryall, called for quite a breeze to conceal their mortification. After a confused consultation, in which Gripe did not spare hard language to his two men, on whom he laid the blame of the escape, he began, by way of satisfying the demands of his ill-will, to strike and kick the poor children. If the truth were told, he was vexed with himself for indulging so freely in drinking, the night previous. Heretofore, although addicted to drunken carousal now and then, he had never been guilty of losing his "property" by that means, as he first saw it under lock and key before he gave himself up unrestrained to his appetite for strong drink. So to help the matter, he continued to torment the poor helpless children. And when they cried, he treated them the more roughly, and fiercely bade them, "Be done." But the sobs would burst forth, being stronger than the resolutions of the little ones. At last the barbarian stopped his cruel sport from pure weariness, and again the children, as many as could, were permitted to sleep, while their masters held council
on future movements. Morning came, and they were early stirring. As there were no available servants on the ground, the pale-faced drovers were obliged to harness their horses; but rather than get their breakfast, they decided to ride to a tavern some ten miles distant, on the road to Richmond, whither they wished to proceed with all possible despatch. They packed the children in the wagon, with the cooking utensils, (which were to be returned to the farm-house at their convenience,) and tying the saddle-horses behind, the three getting into the vehicle, moved off before sunrise.
About noon of the same day, this company reached Richmond, at which time the stock which remained to the slave-dealer, was deposited in one of the eleven jails, according to the custom of the country. For the supposition is that they are criminals, or would get free if they had the opportunity. At this very time, there were many slaves in the jail, awaiting sale; their masters, meanwhile, being on the look-out for good bargains.
The slave-dealer's advertisements are seen in all the Richmond papers forthwith, and the community is greatly excited thereupon. The good people are thunderstruck at so audacious a robbery. They are inexpressibly shocked at the hardihood and bold daring of
the crime. What! so many slaves in the well-regulated state of Virginia, have malice enough to commit a highway robbery on their masters? Steal so much property from their lawful owners? The old gentlemen ominously shake their heads, and tell how things have been waxing worse and worse, since they were young--and how the glory has departed, and the scepter is taken away from Judah, (that is to say Virginia,) all suggested by the emigration of the slaves. The young men feel their interests affected, and think the "goods and chattels" when taken, should be hung, to keep their kind in check. All who hold slaves fear the influence of the experiment of running away, if successful, on "their people"--consequently use all the means in their power to arrest those who have so unceremoniously slipped their necks from the hard yoke.
The slave-dealer, who has his share of sympathy and condolence, spares no exertion to retake his stray property. Not only does he continue his promises of large rewards in the papers, to the fortunate hounds who shall seize the prey, but he himself rides constable through the region about Richmond, to get some clue to the same. And while he is thus on the look-out, he succeeds in peddling away, at retail, his remaining stock,
the children, at good profits, and although he can not cover his losses, yet he has some consolation.
Lest a wrong impression should be entertained of the nigger-buyer, it should be kept in mind, that he was never known to be so far off his guard, on any one of the many occasions when he was taking his goods to market, as at the forest encampment. Perhaps his mortification at losing the good bargain he had chuckled at making with Webster Webb, caused him to give way to the bottle more than usual. For it may be observed that it was a maxim with that upright individual never to get intoxicated whenever bargains were to be made. Yet has he been known, when carrying "two sheets to the wind," to make purchases or sales highly advantageous to himself, so constantly did he keep in view the one great object of his profession.
"Woe! unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness,
And his chambers by wrong;
That useth his neighbor's service without wages,
And giveth him not for his work."--JEREMIAH.
Reckoning with conscience. Letter from Saratoga. Mr. Chadwick distressed. Writes to his daughters.
As the hero in this narrative is the slave, and not the master, we have little to do with Mr. Chadwick. Yet it may be well to mention that he was sorry to sell any of his servants, and when the price of their bones and sinews was placed in his hands, he even expressed his regret that the hard times impelled him to make the sale.
"It's a hard case," said he, as overseer Brazen gave him $2,000, the price of Jinny's sons; "it's a hard case, but I am right glad of the money, and think, considering circumstances, I am justified in disposing of them, for 'he that provideth not for his own household is worse than an infidel.' "
"To be sure," chimed in the knight of the whipping-post.
"But," continued the master, counting the money,
the price of flesh and blood, "all this came about, it must be admitted, mainly from your two turkeys being stolen."
"Your turkeys; your turkeys, I may say," said the overseer, "for Mrs. Brazen was fatting them on purposely for your table."
"Ah, indeed; well I think I recollect something about it," said the planter, "however it's all the same, it was the disposition to steal which I thought it my duty to frown upon, by selling the lads, thus making them examples to all offenders." The confab was here interrupted by a young slave, who brought in the papers and letters from the post-office. The overseer went his way, and Mr. Chadwick began to read, in the first place, a letter from Mrs. Chadwick, as follows:
SARATOGA, Aug. 15th, 18--.
DEAREST CHARLES,--I am reminded that it is just one month, since I gave you an account of our much lamented losses. In every communication to you since that time, reluctantly, I have been obliged to say that our servants could not be found, but now what greatly aggravates the case is, being found, they can not be taken.
A party from Canada arrived at this place last week; some of them royal, aristocratic English people. We have made the acquaintance of Lord and Lady N., who happened to be in Kingston, where it seems our runaways have taken up their abode. And how do you think I found out that they were there? It would take a Yankee to guess. One of Lady N.'s dresses had a trimming about the skirt, precisely similar to one which Judy made for me. I thought
no other person could make one just like it, so one day, as we were familiarly chatting together, I said to her, that I did not know that any one north of the Potomac, save my servant Judy, had the art of making trimmings so tastefully.
"My dear Madam," said she, with some surprise; "your servant Judy; pray, where is she?"
I replied that "she had taken leave of absence, and had gone, I knew not whither."
"She must be in Canada," said she, "for when I was in Kingston, a person named Judy called to ask me if I would allow her to work for me on trial. She said she was a mantua-maker, and used to make her mistress' dresses, although she had also been employed as a ladies' maid. She was neatly dressed, and her appearance was so favorable, that I gave her this dress to make, and I must say, that my work was never done better. I found that she resided in a retired cottage with her father, and sister Rose. The former has been in the country for some years."
Said I, when a little composed, "Do the servants reside in cottages like free people?"
"Those who have been servants certainly do, my dear Madam," said she. And then she told me of a visit she made Judy, at her father's cottage, which is neatly white-washed within and without. John supports himself making baskets, and sings and whistles all day long, he is so happy at his work now that his daughters are with him. I was glad to hear that he was well, for I feel that we have justly an interest in him; and, poor man, I pity him if he gets into our hands a second time, for he will have no small sum to pay to discharge the debt he owes us. I wonder much where the conscience of the servants is, that they can, with such complacency, steal themselves from those who lawfully own them! Talk about all men being born free and equal, as these Northerners do, can they ever consider that the slave is created without that conscience which usually appears in our race?
Lady N. and myself had a long turnpike talk on this interesting
subject. I told her that the three persons described, were our property, and that we should most certainly claim them, according to law. Think she did not laugh outright at my simplicity as she termed it.
"My dear madam," said she, "do you not know that they are safe under the wing of Victoria's government?"
"True," said I, "but what of that? They have wandered from the fold, and must be brought back."
"Ah," said she, "they think that they are now, for the first time, safe in the fold, and look upon you pursuers as the wolves."
Would you think it? I found myself talking abolition with an English lady? I fear me, if I should remain another season, I should have the mania, for the very air is infected with it.
I told her that I really must have Judy and Rose, so difficult it was getting on without them. She replied as coolly as possible, "They want themselves more than you can possibly want them, and they find it very easy and vastly comfortable getting along without you."
At this I was quite disposed to be angry, but kept my temper by considering the very different manner in which we had been educated, and while I pitied her for her aberration, I could not persuade myself that I was perfectly right in all my opinions.
Our hired servants do very well, and I have great satisfaction, I must acknowledge, in paying them regular wages, enjoying the consciousness that they have an equivalent for their labor. It is true I do not think that I have wronged one of the tribe of servants at Monmouth, but still there is some difference in giving old clothes and in paying some stipulated sum weekly. Apropos of Judy, Lady N. says she is employed by the first people of the place, and assisted by Rose, will, doubtless, yet make quite a little fortune. She also gave me some information, in answer to my inquiries, respecting the "plantation emigrants" who have settled in Canada. It 's perfectly surprising what quantities have accumulated in the vicinity of--. Why, if I recollect aright, there are about 20,000 who
have been dogged and advertised by their rightful owners, all to no purpose! There they live, like lordly Englishmen, all legal subjects of her majesty, little Vic.! I am told that about fifty pass through Albany every week, and these must be no comparison to the number leaking through Ohio. Just so long as we are united to the free states, in our present relation, the balance of power being at the North, just so long shall we be exposed to this ruinous loss of property. Now, the free states are only vast leak-holes to our gallant ship, and will ultimately sink her, labor hard as we may at the pumps, unless some remedy can be devised. My woman ingenuity is baffled, if the newly acquired possessions of New Mexico and golden California, made into slave territory, will not avail. Got the most power South, and the North, with her cold winds, may whistle in vain for runaways.
How our ignorant people know so well where to go, in escaping, is a grand mystery. I am told, however, that there are regular routes of travel marked out for them by these soi-disant "friends," commencing on the borders of our dominions; so that the moment one sets foot in a free state, he has enough to help him on his way. The Quakers are ever ready to proffer their aid; and there are vigilance committees established in all the principal cities, whose business it is to help our men and women fly to Canada.
It is clear that most of the people North are disposed to assist the servants in getting free. The exceptions are generally those that own property at the South, which causes them to have views more in unison with ours.
I asked Lady N., in conversation, how much England could boast over America, as it regarded oppression? She replied that she was aware that her country sustained a tyrannical and oppressive system toward its poor, but yet they were not bought and sold like chattels.
Lady N. is so gentle, affable, beautiful, genteel, and intelligent withal, that there is no withstanding her winning ways. And although I know that she is a decided abolitionist, yet it is hard for me to realize it in her presence, she has so many estimable qualities.
I am quite sure that you would be fascinated with her, for with all my prejudices, I am.
Pocahontas says, "Mamma, you must be bewitched!" Virginia, dear child, says, "If mamma is bewitched, she is sure she is too, for Lady N. is too charming for any thing on earth. I hope you will see our danger and come for us forthwith. And now that I am on this subject, to omit nothing, I must tell you that I have actually been reading some of Lady N.'s papers of late, and, moreover, setting aside my southern feelings, I think them vastly interesting.
I picture to myself Judy, hanging out her mantua-maker's sign, with Rose in partnership, and a train of runaways as apprentices to the trade. Really, if I were not a party concerned, I should think this getting away of the servants, and establishing themselves on their own account, the most romantic instances of romance to be found.
Indeed, I would like just to peep into John's cottage, (would not you?) and compare it with his old leaky cabin at the quarters. And then I would like to sit down by his fireside and have him tell me his adventures in getting to Canada. Well, I am glad that you sold Jamie, Kitt, and Tray, although I was so fond of Jamie, for I make sure that they will run away sooner or later, and join their family in Canada. And it is certainly better for our pockets, to sell them as a preventive of the loss. Still I think selling servants is cruel, and one of the greatest objections to our system.
Please tell Mrs. Dorothy that she may increase the task of the spinners half a pound more per week. I find they do not do half the work that free laboring women North accomplish, and it is kindness for us to keep them well employed. The young ladies wish to be remembered to papa with much love.
Hoping soon to see you, I remain,
On reading this letter, a strange compound of emotions took possession of Mr. Chadwick. "Mary must
be crazy!" at length thought he to himself. "My poor Mary is certainly deranged, and all for those miserable runaways. Fool that I was to allow her to go to the North alone, and have so much care, all because I thought my business required my presence at home. I am a loser, in every sense, by this arrangement. Had I gone to the Springs, in all probability my servants had not escaped, and Mary had not lost her senses." These were some of the reflections of the planter, as he paced his lonely parlor. At last, composing himself as much as possible, he sat down and wrote Mrs. Chadwick the most kind and soothing letter in his power, concluding it by saying that he would come for her as soon as possible. At the same time, he wrote another letter to his daughters, Pocahontas and Virginia, wherein he dropped a hint of his anxiety respecting their mother, and begged them to devote themselves to her until his arrival, which would be soon after the letters were received. This done, the afflicted man dispatched the letters to the post-office, and directly commenced putting his house and plantation in order, for his visit North.
"Oh, think not that thou art forgot
By Him who views thy lonely lot,
Thou hunted child of earth;
He hears the ravens when they cry,
And will He not their wants supply,
Of more exalted worth?"
Archy and Carlo set out for the cave. Gumfrey and Tray. A happy meeting. Sufferings of comrades left behind. Jamie resolves to go to their help. Discovers their hiding-place. He gives them food, and persuades them to follow him.
WE left the wanderers asleep in the cave, and now that it is night, or their day, let us return to them. Old Archy, faithful to his promise, as the evening drew on, prepared to visit them. His superannuated sister, Edy, had made herself busy the livelong day, in putting together, shabbily, of course, some old clothes cut over for the travelers, whom her dim eyes had seen the night previous. She also robbed herself of the food for the day, that she might have something to send them, for said she, "de poor things will starve; dat they will!" With the bundle of clothing and the food, Archy was well loaded; so taking his staff, and whistling low to Carlo, he sat out.
Archy and Edy were supposed to be more helpless
than they really were, consequently less was required of them than they were able to do. It is a common thing among the enslaved to feign greater age and imbecility than they really possess, in order to escape burdensome tasks. Old Archy and Edy, it must be acknowledged, were either guilty of this device, or else wanting the proper incentives to exertion, appeared older and more helpless than would have been the case in other circumstances. Archy, by starting off on the expedition to the cave, showed that he was able to work when he had motives sufficient, and had more strength than was expended on a few knots of a seine, or part of a basket, his allotted daily task. And Edy, by cutting over and repairing old garments, showed that she was not quite so utterly helpless as reported on the annual inventory. But how wretched that state of society that leads people to wish to be thought old and useless.
Archy, with his faithful Carlo, soon gained the forest. It was a favorable night for him, the moon being obscured by curtains of dark-lead clouds; and well concealed by the darkness, he went boldly on. It happened that Tray and Gumfrey had also proceeded a little out of the line of march indicated by the north star, to seek the protection which the mountains afforded, and at this very time lay crouched in a
thicket, near the path which old Archy took to go to the cavern. Carlo, being a dog of quick perceptions, knew, at some distance, that all was not right. However, restraining himself for the sake of his dignity, he simply gave a low growl of disapprobation, until himself and master were alongside the hedge, when, thinking it high time for decided measures, he sprang into the bushes with quite warlike exclamations.
"Come out there," said the old man.
"Won't you be done, you dog?" spoke out Gumfrey.
"Be good enough to call your dog off, will you?" said Tray, for he knew that he was speaking to a brother.
"Carlo, be done!" said Archy, in a tone that showed that he was in earnest. So the dog held his peace, and simply growled for an explanation. Tray and Gumfrey came forth from their hiding-place, for there was a something in the old man's voice which inspired the confidence that he would befriend them, and, mayhap, guide them on their way. Their story was soon told, and the old man said to them that, as he was going to a cave to visit some people who, like them, were bound for the North, he would lead them there, to abide until they should choose to proceed on their journey.
They felt grateful for this, and the three went on together. They reached the cave in due time, the inmates of which were sitting in darkness, awaiting old Archy's approach. Telling the strangers to remain without until he could prepare those within for their reception, he entered and made himself known to the three, who gladly received him. He then went to a corner of the apartment where he had deposited a quantity of pine knots some time before, and lighting one with a match, the room was directly illuminated. He then proceeded to introduce Tray and Gumfrey. Jamie and Kitt were overwhelmed with joy to meet Tray, who was just as glad on his part to meet them; and little Ella, from mere sympathy, was as happy as the rest. Old Archy clapped his hands in ecstacy, as he saw the brothers clasped in each other's arms, and, weeping for joy, he could only say, "The Lord be praised!" Gumfrey stood apart, striving, by caresses, to cultivate the friendship of the dog, and, now and then, you might hear him mutter, as the tears came unbidden, "No kin to me; nobody's no kin to me!"
Still expressing his joy, old Archy began to prepare supper, while the brothers and little Ella were telling their adventures, and Gumfrey was cultivating further acquaintance with Carlo. Sleep had been the only
food of those in the cave during the day, and now they were feasting on the happy meeting.
"Who thought you'd find us, so well hid?" said Ella, as she seated herself beside Tray.
"Ah," said Kitt, laughing, "you found us, in trying to hide yourselves."
"Yes," said Tray, looking grave, "but I must tell you about the people we left behind."
And then while all mutely listened, he drew a mournful picture of the sufferings of two of their party, whom he had discovered in the ruins of an old church, a few miles back. Too fearful to go out to get the necessary supplies of food, they were dying of despair and hunger. Tray and Gumfrey brought them water in an old gourd from a spring near by, and foraged for corn one night to satisfy their hunger. And when they were a little strengthened by the food, they used every persuasion to have their comrades accompany them, but it was to no purpose, the latter determined to stay there and die, rather than face the danger of striving to get free. Faint, weary, and depressed, they looked only for death as a deliverer. Jamie heard the story of which we have given the amount, and immediately resolved to go to these dying men, regardless of consequences. Said he, "It was I that persuaded them to be free, and
now I must not let them die by the way, if I can help it."
Archy had now spread their evening meal, which consisted of ash-pones, a few slices of meat, and a delicious water-melon. The little party ate standing, as the food was spread on one of the shelving rocks by the side of the room. Before eating, as they stood together by their food, old Archy, folding his hands, asked a blessing, and then did the honors of the table. Jamie then opened to his friends his plan of seeking to rescue the two sick men.
This was strongly opposed by every one except old Archy, who remained silent, considering the matter.
"Oh! Jamie, please done stay with us," said Ella.
"I'll go with you if you go," said Tray.
"What shall we do if they take you?" said Kitt.
"I shan't let you go," said Ella, leaving her supper, and clinging to his side, "and then they won't get you!"
"What if we were sick and dying for something to eat, and Archy should be afraid to come and see us?"
"You may go," said Ella.
"Our poor brothers will die in that old church, unless I go and see them," continued Jamie.
"I will go with you," said Tray.
"May I too?" eagerly asked Ella.
"No, no," said old Archy, "you don't know how bad it will be to go. A great deal of money will be given to the man that finds you. Nobody can go but Jamie, and he may be taken if he goes. Men and dogs are out, day and night, to find your track, and you must have the eagle's eye open. Jamie, mayhap you'll be taken!"
"Still I must go!" replied the undaunted youth.
"I'm glad you wish to go, but I must take your place, for I am an old man, and never expect to get free. If you stay here until you follow the star again, you may be free, but if you turn back"--the old man concluded the sentence by an ominous shake of the head.
Jamie put his hand on Archy's shoulder, "I shall never let you take my place," said he, "much as I long to be free. I will go myself, and you must pray our Father, to save me from the dogs and men."
"I can not let you go," said old Archy, with the tears coursing down his cheeks, for he knew too well the fearful odds in the case.
"I shall be safe in the care of our Father!" replied Jamie; then turning to Tray and Gumfrey, he asked of them directions for the way, which they gave in longer detail than we can follow.
"Well, well," said old Archy, brushing away his tears, "if you will go, here's my staff, and you can whistle Carlo to take care of you."
"No indeed!" replied Jamie, "I shall not take away all you have. I can do well enough without the staff and dog."
The brothers and Ella began to sob, while Jamie prepared to go.
"I will be back in a little while, may be," said he, as he finished tying up some of the remains of their meal for the men he was to visit; then putting on his tattered cap, he left the cave, with a hasty farewell, and bounding lightly down the mountain, on the bank of the thunder-stream, he was soon threading the mazy forest, as directed by Tray and Gumfrey. A mantle of darkness shielded him from the eyes of men, if any there were about his way, just as the leaden clouds hid the moon in her night promenade in the sky. Dauntless, he urged his way onward, having a strong, noble motive for action, and about midnight reached the ruins of the dilapidated church. The clouds began to disperse just as he was safely hid behind the deep shadow of the massy walls of the edifice. Then sallying forth in resplendent brightness, the moon shed her silver rays on the earth.
The church was one of those ancient houses of worship, built some two hundred years since, by the early settlers of the Old Dominion. There are yet standing in eastern Virginia, the remains of several of these old churches, to tell of the glebe days of the olden time, when the jovial sportsmen-rectors presided over the religion of the church. These houses of worship were built in the most antique form, and generally in the style of the English churches of that day. The construction was as if two oblong buildings crossed each other centrally at right angles, so that the church had four fronts, and four indented corners, alternating with the fronts. Over each door at each of the four fronts, was a curious circular window, and in each of the two sides which formed a corner were beautiful gothic windows. The walls were built of stone, or brick, three feet in thickness, and when the fire went out on the altar, and men came up no more to worship, they remained for ages, mementos of the past, while the bat, the owl, and the swallow abode there, and the vulture-tooth of Time preyed on the ruin. It was in a church of this description, whose roof had long since decayed and fallen in, which had been robbed of its windows by covetous overseers, that the sufferers were hid. It was comparatively a safe hiding-place, for men had now no
further temptation to pilfer there, and there were few that felt interested in visiting the graves among the ancient oaks in the church-yard enclosure.
Jamie cautiously crept within, and by a signal whistle understood among the fugitives, made himself known to the two men, who, hid behind a part of the roof which had fallen in the vestry-room, were patiently waiting death by the slow and tormenting hand of famine. The questioning whistle was faintly answered, and guided by the sound, Jamie found his comrades.
"I have brought you food," said he, as he helped them to rise and sit up. The men seized it ravenously, and spoke not until it was devoured, and then it was to ask for more.
"I can not give you more now," said Jamie, fearing to indulge them in eating freely after so long abstinence.
"When will you done give us more?" said they, with the eagerness of half-starved children.
"When you will go with me," replied he.
"Then we will go now!" said one in a weak voice.
"Yes, we are ready," said the other feebly. And with this they both tried to stand, and barely succeeded, supporting themselves by the wall; but the desire of getting more food strengthened them to follow Jamie, and
crawl out of the church in which they had remained ten days without food, except the corn which Tray brought them. When these men, with the help of their leader, were without the old church, in its deep shadow, he made them sit down and rest, while he explained to them the plan he had to aid them in escaping. It seemed as if the hope of ever getting free had all gone out of their hearts, and they heard as though they heard not, but continued to ask him for more food. After putting them off as long as he could, Jamie gave them a part of the remaining pone, and succeeding in cheering them with his account of the cave, persuaded them to follow him in the route to the adjoining forest.
Sadness in the cave. Fifty huntsmen. Jamie and his companions overpowered. Rejoicings at the inn. Rum the moderator. Secret departure of the captors.
THE company in the cave were silent, save sobs, for some time after Jamie's departure. The pine-knot burnt brilliantly in the niche of the wall, and from without was heard the voice of the water leaping from rock to rock. Ella crept to old Archy, for her feet were badly torn, and weeping, hid her head in his bosom. When she had wept herself asleep, old Archy, assisted by Tray, dressed her arm and feet with some of the salve and soft linen which Edy, in her grandmotherliness, thought to send. She slept in his arms till midnight, when quietly laying her on her bed of leaves, and spreading over her some of the old garments he had brought, he left her. Then charging the two brothers and Gumfrey to beware how they ventured to show themselves without the cave by day-light, and saying that he would come again with more food the next night, he departed.
As several days had elapsed since the "escape," the country was very generally apprised of the event, and
somewhat extensively on the alert to apprehend the absconded articles. The mountains and forests, however, remained true to their trust. And these same noble mountains, that hid our travelers so safely, shielded at that very time, in other fastnesses, a large party of emigrants to the North, as the notes of the New York Committee of Vigilance show.
On the night of which we were speaking, no less than fifty men, thirsting for the advertised reward, were scouring the country for the fugitives' trail.
There was a tavern a few miles from Yuocomico, which name we give the church where the poor men were hid, and on this same evening, ten bar-room loungers took oath, over a glass of brandy, that they would take some of the missing property before morning. So they wisely concluded to be moderate drinkers, until after the search. Resolving themselves into five divisions of twos, they were to take as many different directions. Their modus operandi being arranged, the blood-hound committee left the tavern about nine o'clock. What little efficiency they possessed was tasked, to cut if possible the trail of the escaping, who were only obeying the great instinct of Nature, the pursuit of happiness, and to which they had an inalienable right.
The wolf-dogs barked on in oaths and execrations,
but we forbear following them in all their progress. We must, however, meet two of them returning to the inn, as poor Jamie and his companions were obliged to do.
Jamie had succeeded in coaxing his companions nearly to the borders of the forest, when these hunters suddenly came upon them. The two feeble men uttered a cry of terror and sank helpless on the ground. Jamie bounded away and had easily escaped, but seeing them in the power of their adversaries, turned back to their rescue. As they made no resistance, he found himself battling alone with two powerful men, who soon bound him and made him as helpless as they could wish. The two faint-hearted ones were now ordered to get up! and then were bound with leathern thongs, their captors being prepared for this emergency, and the three were firmly fastened together, so as to render escape impossible.
They were thus marched to the tavern as fast as the feeble men could go. It was nearly morning when they arrived, and the prisoners were quite exhausted with the fatigues and events of the night. Jamie was deeply stricken with this total failure of the attempted escape, to say nothing of his agony at finding himself again a slave. He felt that liberty was almost his
own, and since so near the possession of the prize, his noble soul expanded with desires that others might share it too. For this periling all, he lost all! But has he no solace? Ah, yes, he has consolation in the thought that he is suffering for trying to save others, and reposing firm trust in our Father, whose ear is ever open to hear the cry of His suffering children, he is sustained amid his sorrows.
Great were the rejoicings at the inn because of the recapture, and although it was at the early hour of two in the morning, yet in fifteen minutes after the arrival, every man, woman, and child pertaining to the establishment, was crowded in and around the bar-room, where the exhibition was being made, and the chief talker of the two robbers, after his glass, continued to tell over and over again the exact operation of taking some of the advertised articles. After well gorging their curiosity, the people so readily collected, dispersed, and the captives were directed to lay down on the bare floor until further orders.
One after another of the different divisions of twos arrived, each unsuccessful, but with one consent disposed to make a great uproar, and "Fourth-of-July" celebration, on the occasion of their comrades' success.
Long before day's blue eye was open, all the "ten"
arrived, and as some of them had faithfully traveled for the scent the whole of the night, they were out of humor, and disposed to be jealous of those luckier than themselves.
Having sufficiently displayed their cur temper, by growling and snapping, they at length got reconciled over the bottle, which the landlord in the faithful discharge of the duties of his vocation recommended as a grand adjuster of difficulties.
"Nothing like rum," said he, and he practically advocated its use, as his very deep-hued face testified, "Nothing like rum, it settles more disputes than all the lawyers in the land!"
"Exactly!" said No. one, "just so!"
"Them 's my 'pinions!" chimed No. two.
"Let us have some of your New England best!" called No. three.
"Very best!" said No. four.
"I vote for something to drink!" said No. five.
"Bad night this for colds!" coughed No. six.
"Fever-and-ague night, decidedly," shivered No. seven, in a chill.
"We 'll take a drop of comfort, and then we 'll divide our profits!" very considerately remarked No. eight.
"Not at all!" exclaimed No. nine, one of the captors,
"we do not divide our profits with you drones who have done nothing!"
"Of course not!" echoed his comrade, "what have you people as took nothing to do with our money?"
"Fair play! fair play!" shouted half a dozen, "we went shares!"
Here there was a quarrel about the reward expected for the capture of the three men, who were bound in one corner of the room, listening to the debate of which they were the occasion. Visions horrific of the dreaded masters and the whipping-post, rose before them, and aided by what was passing, banished rest. Jamie reverted to the helpless company he had left in the mountains, and whom he had fondly hoped to lead to the free country. Now that glad hope was extinguished in utter night. "I shall never see them more," murmured he; but at this moment the thought that he should meet again his lone suffering mother comforted him, and he felt willing to yield his hopes and wear again the yoke, if thus he might soothe her sorrow.
Again rum was made the moderator of the meeting, by the landlord, and at length the men, stupefied by their frequent potations, sank one by one to oblivious sleep, some on rows of chairs and some beneath the table. Nos. nine and ten drank less freely than their
associates, and when all except themselves and the landlord were fast asleep, after some five minutes conversation in a low voice, one went out to get a horse and wagon in readiness, while the other bribed the landlord's favor by the promise of a share in the prize-money. They then prepared the captives to depart.
Ere the sun arose they were far on the road to Richmond, and before the sun set they had delivered to the master the three captives, and received their reward, (amounting to one hundred and fifty dollars,) for their services as faithful hounds! Farewell to thy fair prospects of freedom, poor Jamie, again in the clutches of the merciless slave-buyer!
"Twenty-nine hundred thousand slaves
Within this free and happy land,
Are hastening to their early graves,
Groaning beneath the oppressor's hand.
Man, in his majesty and power,
Woman, with tenderest sympathies,
Children, beneath the lash must cower,
Till rent are Nature's dearest ties."
Solicitude in the cave for Jamie. Tray's anxiety. Ella is seized with a raging fever. Archy's visit. He returns for medicine. Encounters the patrol. Archy and Edy at the cave. Ella dies.
AFTER the departure of old Archy, few words were spoken by the inmates of the cave, for some time. Care and solicitude might have been traced on their countenances as they were anxiously thinking of Jamie. After a pause of some moments, during which nothing within the cave was heard, save the disturbed breathing of sleeping Ella, Gumfrey said,
"I make sure that Jamie has been taken!"
"Oh no!" said Tray, "no, no!"
"He 'll be here right smart soon," added Kitt.
Nevertheless, Tray and Kitt had just as many fears as Gumfrey, but they felt unwilling to acknowledge them, and as the night wore slowly away, could not sleep for thinking of him. At length Gumfrey and
Kitt nestled under the wing of sleep, and Tray, to relieve his oppressed feelings, stole out into the moonlight, and wandered down the mountain side, if perchance he might thus hasten the coming of him he so longed to see. The restive torrent bounded down the rugged steep, with its ever deep thunder tones untamed by the mild moon-beams, whose silvery sheen fell in glory on its waters. Like a foaming war steed, down, down it rushes, nor rests till it reaches the peaceful lake. Tray, as he gazed at the mountain scenery, felt his soul kindling anew with the love of freedom; for who that hath breathed the mountain air, would not be free? Who that hath seen the cataract's wild bound, can be a sluggish thing, and fawn at the tyrant's feet?
Tray reached the shore of the placid pool, and gazed at its glossy surface glittering with the filtering of moonbeams through the leaves. The youth leaning against an oak, whose over-reaching boughs attempted to grasp the whole forest, longingly looked into the dense foliage, that hid the path by which his brother was to return. Once and again did he start with a cry of joy, for he thought the stirring of the leaves was Jamie's wary tread. Morning light came, and yet Tray lingered. How could he return until his brother came? The broad day became softened by shadows, and yet he was
alone. Hope and fear had held alternate possession of his heart, but now the latter gained the ascendency, and with slow and reluctant steps he sought the cave.
During his absence, Ella's sleep had been disturbed by frightful fever dreams, and often did she call for Jamie, to whom, as he was the first that showed her kindness, she was strongly attached. Kitt awoke and sought to soothe her, and at last succeeding, she slept again until the return of Tray, when she became restless, and moaned as if in distress.
"Ella, Ella!" said Tray, but she did not answer; he took her hand, it was hot with fever. Then with the little mug, left by old Archy, he brought water from the torrent, and tried to arouse and persuade her to drink. On awakening, she first asked for Jamie, and being told that he had not come, she sank back on her pillow of dried leaves, and moaned most piteously.
"Oh, Ella! please drink, Ella!" said Tray.
"When Jamie done come," said she, "Ella can't drink till Jamie done come." It seemed that in the wild vagary of her imagination, she thought that her drinking would prevent his coming; so, thirsting as she was, she would not be persuaded to drink till Jamie "done come."
The sun arose. Ella was no better, and Jamie came
not. That was a sorrowful morning to the stricken dwellers in the bosom of that mountain. They were too sad to taste the simple meal left them by kind Archy. As the day grew older, the fever raged more uncontrolled in Ella's system, and she raved in her delirium. There was no one that could relieve her, by giving her a healing draught; no one to bathe her temples, and cool down the furnace-heat that was consuming her--no one; but she restlessly tossed on the rocky floor, so scantily spread with leaves, while grief and dismay took possession of the inmates of the cavern, who found themselves unable to relieve her. Noon came, but not Jamie. Tray became desperate, for Ella's fever made his presence most necessary. Agonized with suspense, again he wandered out of the cave. The day was lovely, but it brought no joy to his heart. He knew that unless some aid could be had for Ella, she must die; die in that lone mountain cave, far from the abodes of men. "But that would be better," thought he, "than to go back to slavery, for if she dies she will be free." In his solicitude, he remembered that he had heard of the healing virtues of certain leaves; so he made search for them, and returning to the rocky chamber, placed them on the foot of the fevered child, which soon had the effect of soothing her
to sleep. The hours crept slowly on. The slave exiles spoke only in whispers, and moved gently, lest the sleeper should awake; and although she moaned in her sick dreams, yet it was a peaceful sound compared with the raging of the morning. It was time to light the pine-knot, yet Jamie did not come. Anxious suspense and fearful imaginings of his fate, served to fill up and lengthen out the time, until Archy came, as usual, with his staff and Carlo. Then the watchers by the sick child poured their sorrows into his ear. He looked aghast, and raised his hands in fear and astonishment at the recital.
"It must be so," said he at length, sorrowfully, "our Jamie is a slave again."
They received this declaration, of which his fears had often told him, in silent agony. Kitt wept aloud, while Gumfrey showed, by every look and movement, that his heart groaned for Jamie, although he was no kin to him.
Old Archy took Ella in his arms and gently awoke her; she was in a partial stupor, but, after some time, said feebly, "I glad you is come, Jamie." She now drank of the pure mountain stream offered her, and slept again--the fever stupefied her. Archy marked her bounding pulse, listened to her troubled breathing
for a few moments, and then, with a doubtful shake of the head, directed all to go without and gather more leaves and moss, that he might make a softer couch for her, by spreading over them the old clothes which he had brought. In a few moments Ella was laid on a comfortable bed, and Archy said, "Children, I must now go to my cabin, and try to get something for the poor child to take, else she will die. Do not forget the supper that I brought for you, and you can find some berries, down the valley beyond the lake, to eat with your pones to-morrow. I'll try to come back to-night, but if I do not, keep the leaves on her feet to draw the fever from her head like, give her just as much water as she wants, and make no noise."
He then took his staff, (at which signal Carlo started up,) and as he went through the bushes that hid the cave's entrance, said to Tray, "You must bend these bushes back, so as to give the air to the child; it's a great medicine for her."
And while the good old man went on his way, slowly toiling down into the valley, his many years impeding his progress, Tray followed his directions that Ella might have the benefit of the pure mountain air.
It happened on this night, that certain mischief brewers, dignified with the name of patrol, for the want
of something else to do, knocked at Archy's cabin, to "talk" with him, as they said. Old Archy's memory extended far back, through a space of many years; and it was a rich treat for all that knew him, to hear him tell of the olden time. Thus his cabin was a great resort of the people of the neighborhood, of an evening, to listen to stories of their ancestors, whom the old man did not scruple to say, were far better than their children, much to the amusement of his hearers, who, in their simplicity, knowingly winked to each other, and attributed this impression either to old Archy's eccentricity, or to the infirmities of age.
As it was not the night of duty, the visit of the patrol, (only three came,) was purely gratuitous. To their knock no response was made, for Edy was somewhat deaf, and, besides, sound asleep.
The dignitaries, after knocking again, consulted together about breaking open the door, to see if the old story-teller were indeed dead in his bed; for such was their confidence in his loyalty to his master, that they did not once, by a temporary suspicion, accuse him of doing any thing unbecoming a good subject. They concluded, however, to wait awhile, and take a turn by the quarters; for, said one, "Who knows but the old man may be at his prayers?"
Laughing at this joke, they moved off with marvellous delicacy, to give the story-teller an opportunity to get through praying. Old Archy was a great favorite in the vicinity, and much respected for his being such a chronicler of the by-gone days, or he would not have had his cabin treated so well by the rude patrol on this same evening.
Old Archy, with staff and dog, continued to thread the forest, in the direction of home; and just as the patrol, in their promenade, were returning to the cabin, thinking he must be ready to receive them, he emerged from the woods, greatly to their astonishment.
"Halloa! there you, Archy! praying in the woods, eh?" said the foremost of the three.
The startled man breathed a prayer to Heaven, apprehensive for the result of this meeting.
"Halloa!" shouted another; "what are you doing in the woods to-night?"
Archy did not reply, for the simple reason that he knew not what to say.
"Say, old man," said another, familiarly patting him on the shoulder, "say, what goblins do you find to talk with in the woods? The ghosts of the grandfathers, eh?"
At this, Archy, profiting by the hint, put his finger on his lip with a look of great mystery.
"Tip and Ty," exclaimed one of them, out of patience; "tell us why you are out to-night without a 'pass,' or we will take you up to Lash, the overseer."
"No, indeed, the old man shall not be hurt," said the others.
"Why do I want a 'pass,' when I know every pass of the woods?" asked Archy, pleasantly.
"Ha, ha! good, good! now let us to your cabin, and weave us a good web of the olden time, and we will let you pass this time," said one.
Thus they went on, familiarly chatting and joking at the old man's witticisms, for his reputation was so well established in this line, that he was known far and near, as "the Joker;" and some of his hearers retailed his sayings as their own manufacture.
Archy and his guests entered the cabin. And when he had made his fire look inviting, for the night was chilly, rolling three log seats near it for his guests, he took a fourth, and began to make himself agreeable to his unwelcome visitors, in the place of providing something for the relief of poor Ella, which his kind heart so yearned to do. He went back, in thought, to years long passed, and tasked himself to entertain his auditors, for every thing was at stake. It was hard, for his heart and sympathies were elsewhere; but he succeeded,
and they were much amused. By and by, one interrupted him to ask him for one of his inimitable ash-pones. This he could not refuse, although he had reserved all his own portion of meal for those in the cave. He knew it was not safe to do otherwise than appear to give them cheerfully what they condescended to ask; so the dough was soon prepared, and baking in the hot embers, while the poor old slave, who must do the bidding of his tormenters, went on with his recital.
At last, the pones were baked, and dispatched by the selfish patrol, who thought immensely more of their own comfort than that of the inmates of the cabin, who, in their noble-heartedness, thought more of their poor brethren in the forest than of themselves.
At length the troublesome guests left, but then it was too late for Archy to prepare and carry the medicine to Ella; it would not be safe to go to the forest in the morning, for the people, superintended by the overseer, were at work in the fields adjoining, and he would be noticed. Besides, he could not leave his work of making baskets and tying seins during the day; so he tried to get a little rest, and slept so soundly that he did not wake until Edy had their simple meal prepared. He then arose and told her how he found the dwellers
in the cave. Together they tried to devise some means of getting immediate relief for the sick child.
Sometimes Archy would think that he must go to his master, and tell the tale of sorrow of the beings who had committed themselves to his care; but it was only because he was pressed for expedients, and directly he resisted the thought as madness, being the most effectual way to consign them again to slavery. Edy said, "If master only would let the sick child be here."
As soon as it was dark, Archy and Edy, taking with them all the little comforts they could muster, set forth on their errand of love
Faithful Carlo was by their side. They said little, and in whispers, for Silence and Fear were sentineled on their lips. It was a sight pleasing to Heaven; those aged people toiling for the needy committed to their trust. They reach the cave; and are not too late; no, not too late, to see Ella die! Congestion had set in two hours before, and now was raging fearfully. Old Archy took the child in his arms, and his heart bled when he saw that the remedies he had brought could not avail at this late hour.
"Oh!" said the good old man; "oh, that I had come sooner."
Edy and Gumfrey groaned; Tray and Kitt wept aloud.
"Poor Ella! poor Ella!" said old Archy, soothingly; but she knew him not, as she raved on. The disease, like devouring fire, gained strength, and was rapidly consuming the life of the child. All felt that she must die, and in deep grief watched by her side. * * *
After a few hours, the fever having nearly accomplished its work, seemed to abate, and Ella had a lucid interval, in which, although she could not speak, yet she looked joyous, as if indeed she were going home. The hushing of her disease was not unlike the languishing of the fierce winds at sunset; calmly and serenely, her spirit passed away Her dying smile seemed to speak of visions of angels, of her Savior, of her heavenly home.
* * * The morrow's night had come, and Ella's grave was ready. It was a few rods from the cave, in a grove of hollies, overspread with the fragrant sweetbrier. It was a sweet place for her wearied body to rest until the resurrection morning. The voice of the torrent was ever heard there; and the grave was the abode of sweet singing birds. Gumfrey had spent the day in fashioning the grave. He lined the lonely bed with soft, green moss; little Ella could not have a coffin. Tray and Kitt gathered many wild flowers and evergreens, and laid them by the grave. Old Archy
came, and bore the little child to the place of burial. He laid her gently in her mossy bed, and wept! Tray and Kitt wept as they hid her from their sight, covering her with flowers. Gumfrey wept too, as he placed the evergreens over the child. Then old Archy and the brothers returned to the desolate cave, still weeping, while Gumfrey remained to fill the grave and arrange the green sods.
"O Lord God! to whom vengeance belongeth;
O God! to whom vengeance belongeth, show thyself;
Lift up thyself, thou Judge of the earth;
Render a reward to the proud."
"Lord! how long shall the wicked,
How long shall the wicked triumph?
How long shall they utter and speak hard things?
And all the workers of iniquity boast themselves?"
"They slay the widow and the stranger;
And murder the fatherless;
Yet they say, the Lord shall not see it,
Neither shall the God of Jacob regard it."
Jamie in jail. Gripe's good bargain. Jamie again a field-hand. Redfield. Overseer Turk. Jupe, the young giant. The deed of blood. Jupe is taken. Jinny's grave. Jamie escapes. George Whitely, Esq. discovers that overseer Turk is dead. Jupe's sentence and execution.
AFTER a summary whipping-post chastisement in the jail-yard, Jamie and his two companions were incarcerated in their cells for one week, during which time their master continued to make great exertions to obtain the remainder of the runaways, and to sell those recaptured, to the best advantage. Only two more of the eleven were taken during this week, as they had escaped to the mountain.
Gripe glowingly represented his goods to be some better than any others in the market. Saying nothing about their propensity to abscond, he succeeded in
making bargains entirely to his own satisfaction, as he obtained $1200 for Jamie, and about twice this sum for the other four.
The buyer of Jamie was a wealthy planter in the vicinity of his old master, (their plantations lying adjacent,) and the four were bought by slaveholders in the vicinity of Richmond. Smarting with the marks of the lashes, our poor brethren suffered keenly all that long week in jail. Glad were they to see the pure light and blue sky of heaven; to breathe freely their Father's air, e'en though it were to change their prison for thankless, unpaid toil again. We turn away from the minute recital of each day's sorrow; how the heart of Jamie often "traveled back" to the little band in the mountain; how it bled in anguish, that that which he loved more, far more than life, should be wrested from him when just within his grasp.
Again was Jamie a field-hand, and in a worse state of bondage than when under the reign of Brazen. Different plantations of slaves are very dissimilar, owing somewhat to the different modes of government established by the master and overseer. Each set of slaves are kept within the bounds of the plantation to which they belong, as much as possible. They can not leave it to visit a relative on an adjoining plantation, without
a written passport from the master or overseer. This is to prevent them from assembling in any considerable numbers, and getting up insurrections. Thus associating among themselves, they acquire peculiarities, depending very much, as we have said, upon their treatment. The Monmouth plantation, however, was much blessed by the influence of old Scipio. His prayers arose to heaven, and answers came down like gentle dew into the hearts of his people; they were much better as a class than we usually find. But every estate had not an old Scipio; neither had this to which Jamie was transplanted, which was no other than Redfield, in the hands of a new master, with a new set of servants, torn here and there, all over the state, from cabins whose inmates were bleeding by the wound of separation. The plantation thus manned by a system, in comparison with which the press-gang is a benevolent affair, had the greatest possible variety of characters, and not a few vicious ones, in the horse sense of being ungovernable.
The overseer, train well as he may, finds it almost impossible to assimilate such heterogeneous materials, for, like strange oxen, they will not pull alike in the yoke. So, in the faithful discharge of his duty, he deems it necessary to whip the poor people, till, from
very weariness, he is impelled to desist. Meanwhile, divers of them escape into the woods bordering on the estate, but are too ignorant and dispirited to try and get any further. Of the many runaways reported weekly by the Southern papers, few get far from the localities with which they are acquainted. Hunger, fear, and ignorance, send them back to seek a shelter beneath the lash that drove them forth.
It was not uncommon for scenes of blood to transpire on the Redfield estate. Turk, the overseer, was unmerciful. His principle of government was, for the slightest offenses, to whip until he was tired, and then, by way of refining his cruelty, order some poor slave to go on with the dreadful work, and if he abated in the least before he had leave, there were Turk's fearful oaths and threats to urge him on. Turk was not permitted to continue long in his administration. The measure of his iniquities was soon full, and he went to his reward.
One morning, the overseer whipped a lad till he died. The same day, the people being at work gathering corn, those that had been drilled, of whom one was Jamie, were in the same row with the foreman, and others not so available, were loitering in the rear, when Turk rode up to them on his boasted steed, Wildfire, and, passing
by those that were doing well, came to the listless ones. Seeing him dismount, as he approached they tried to do a little better; nevertheless, he gave them each a cruel blow, as usual.
But who is that loitering by himself at the extremity of the field, whose task is scarcely yet begun? Who? Why that is Jupe, the Southampton giant. But why seems he so inert and useless? One would think, with such a frame and muscles, he might gather the cornfield, nor think of fatigue.
There are reasons sufficient why he is so cast down. He has a strong arm, but a stronger heart, and has been the only solace of his widowed mother, whose husband was one of the leaders of the famous Southampton massacre, and expiated his crime--being hung. The life of the mother was henceforth bound up in the life of the child, and faithfully they toiled for their master until the dreadful moment when Jupe was sold. He had become a giant in stature; was about twenty years old, and from his many excellencies, commanded a high price. His master getting pressed for money, found the temptation of $1500 too good an offer to be resisted in exchange for his favorite slave, and accordingly sold him to the master of the Redfield estate.
"Why don't you work, you rascal?" shouted Turk,
going up to him, leading Wildfire, and swinging his official weapon. Jupe looked down on his little tormentor with the greatest apparent coolness and unconcern. This was too much to be borne; Turk could not be looked down on thus, so to put himself on an equality as to height, he mounted his horse.
"Now we 'll see who 's head man," said he. "Work, work, WORK!" continued he, at the same time giving the slave repeated blows.
The giant looked up to heaven, as if to pray for vengeance; his usually stolid expression of countenance changed, and gave indications that strong passions were working within, but with a mighty effort he did not speak.
"Do your work, will you?" shouted the overseer, still lashing him mercilessly.
The memory of the morning's cruel scene at the whipping-post, which resulted in death, the long train of bloody deeds, and the wrongs of his race, rushed upon him.
"Yes," said he, the whole of his mighty spirit rising, "yes, I'll do my work!" and with one powerful swing of his sickle, he felled the overseer lifeless to the earth. He was not long in mounting the horse thus left without a rider, and galloped away at the top of his speed.
Whither? Was it to intrench himself in the fastnesses of the forest? No, his heart was on his lonely mother's distant cot, and thither he would flee and secrete himself in her neighborhood, that he might comfort her still. As fast as Wildfire would carry him, he fled, taking the county road that led through the Court House Village, in the direction south. He had little hope that he should be able to get through this hamlet without being apprehended, but it seemed the only course he could pursue, and in the desperation of the moment, he determined to try the experiment.
It was the hour of opening the mail, and a little crowd were around the post-office, when the horse and rider described, came in sight.
"Wildfire, as I live!" exclaimed Black Brownson.
"Bless me," said Webster Webb, "Turk's Wildfire."
"And Jupe, the giant," continued another.
"Foul play, you may take my word for it," said another.
"Stop him, stop him!" shouted they all, while every thing that could be mustered attempted to head the furious Wildfire. Now it was that Jupe showed himself a giant. With one hand he swept the crowd away each side of him, and with the other urged on his horse. On dashed Wildfire, trampling the crowd, and prospects
were fair for the slave's escape, when three pistol-balls lodging in his body at as many different instants, rendered him utterly helpless. The horse was ruined by receiving one of the balls designed for the giant. The Court House people raised a shout, and captured Jupe as they would a wild beast, and caged him up in the jail, till his master could be consulted. They little imagined what he had done--that he had killed their jovial, fun-loving Turk; for such was the character which he sustained at the Court House. His cruelty on the plantation was not heeded there; Oh no, for who was there to testify? Who, of all the helpless beings under his sway, would dare lisp a syllable of his hardhearted deeds?
After the excitement of capturing so formidable a runaway had subsided in a measure, the people dispersed to their homes, to rehearse the particulars to their families, as they leisurely sipped their tea, while they held up the captured giant as an example to their own servants in waiting, that they, and those to whom they would communicate the news, might tremble at the thought of escaping.
The field people saw the fall of Turk, and they rejoiced. And as Jupe rode off, they sent up one long, low shout to heaven. It was a slave shout; it did not
burst full and free; but nevertheless, it was a shout of joy, for their merciless tormentor, the murderer of the morning, was no more. They sympathized too much in the fate of their comrade, to inform "master" of Turk's death, until Jupe could have a chance to escape, and, as if by mutual consent, with few words between them, they went on with their work, and when twilight came, went to the quarters as usual. They said little, for the horrid events of the day had awakened a fear in their hearts of something yet more dreadful.
Jamie, unable longer to endure the miseries of that blood-managed estate, set out again for freedom. Having been closely watched by Turk, he had been unable to visit his poor mother, much as his heart prompted it. Now that the overseer was dead, and it was dark, Jamie stole from his cabin, and proceeded in the direction of his old master's plantation. He was soon in the vicinity of the quarters. He lingered at a distance until the light was out in Brazen's house, for he dreaded lest his eye should fall upon him. As soon as he thought it would be safe, he cautiously crept to his mother's hut, by a course least likely to arouse the dog. There was no light, no fire in his old home, and as he looked in at the door, his heart smote him with the fear that his poor mother might have gone to the grave.
He gently called her by name, but there was no answer. "Mother," said he, yet louder; but she did not reply. He entered and searched the cabin, but she was not there. Agonized with suspense, the worn youth went to a cabin where he knew he should meet friends whom he could trust. Mary, a good, clever woman, lived there, and Jamie entered her door. She was overjoyed to see him, but to his first question returned no answer.
"Where is my mother?" repeated Jamie, much distressed.
Mary had not the heart to tell him, but burst into tears.
"Oh, Mary, tell me where is my mother?" continued he, in earnest agony.
"She is happy, Jamie," Mary replied, "her heart done broke in half, and she died, poor thing!"
"My poor mother," sobbed Jamie, and good, gentle Mary wept too. By little and little, he told her what had befallen him since first sold, and how he longed to return to the mountain. She encouraged him to go, and insisted on his taking some food which she nicely tied up for him; then, as moments were precious, he took his leave. He felt, however, that he must once more visit his mother's cabin, and search for that
treasure which old Scipio gave him, his Bible. He found it hid in the loose mud-plaster, between the logs of the cabin, where he usually had kept it, and overwhelmed with joy, knelt down and rendered grateful thanks to "our Father" for permitting him again to have the blessed book. Then, after shedding tears on poor Jinny's grave, he went on his way. When morning came he had left his professed master quite in the rear, being far on his road to the rendezvous in the mountain. During the day he lay concealed, but by night swiftly sped on his way.
A word more of Redfield. The next morning after the retribution of Turk, all hands, minus Jamie, started early for the field, and headed by the foreman, went to work as usual, although the dead body remained where it had fallen. The desire to have Jupe gain time, and unwillingness to be the tale-bearer, kept the whole party from making any movement toward giving information to the master; so those filthy vultures, the Turkey Buzzards, began to claim the body.
Now it happened that on this very morning, the master, George Whitely, Esq., leisurely rode to the Court House Village, to chat with some of his neighbors, whom he often met at Webster Webb's, as he wished to collect the last news. By the way, the messenger who
was dispatched to him the evening before, instead of going himself, sent word by another whom he met, and between them both, the planter concerned was not informed that Jupe was in custody. Reaching the Court House, he heard news from a dozen mouths at the same instant, which caused him to put spurs to his horse and proceed to his quarters, to learn the true state of things from overseer Turk, who, by the way, when living, lived all by himself, having three servants to keep house for him. These servants had missed "massa Turk," but supposed him to be engaged in some drunken frolic at the Court House, and when "great master" rode up and asked where Turk was, one said, "Don't know indeed, master."
"Bless me! don't know! when was he at home?"
"Please to believe me,* * A common mode of expression with the slaves of Virginia.
master, he done dined to home yesterday, and went out on de farm, and dat's de lass I seed him," said the cook.
* A common mode of expression with the slaves of Virginia.
"Bless me!" ejaculated the master.
"Taint probable he aint at de Court House?" added Becky, trying the experiment of giving her master a hint as to where he might be found.
"Nonsense!" exclaimed the master, who then went
directly to the field where was the dead body of the overseer.
The moment the laborers (who had never worked so faithfully a morning in their lives) saw master, they appeared still more interested with their work, but dispatched one of their number to meet the much-dreaded, and tell him of the death of the overseer. The poor trembling slave went to meet his master, and when he was asked why some one of them did not bring him word directly, he replied,
"Please to believe me, master, could not stop work."
"Fools!" said the enraged man, "I'll have you all whipped within an inch of your lives!" Saying this he rode up to the people, and after inquiring into matters a little, he found that Jamie, his most valuable slave, the most trusty man of them all, was missing. Here then was an additional cause of trouble to the proprietor of the ill-fated estate. After a storm of harsh language, he gave directions to have the body of the poor overseer carried to his house, and the decencies of burial to be given it, and as by common testimony Jupe was said to be the guilty one, he proceeded to the court house. His favorite idea was to keep the matter hushed, and save Jupe from capital punishment, that he might still reap the benefit of his very valuable services; but as
his crime was known by all the plantation, he found a difficulty; for if he forgave Jupe, where would insubordination and murder cease? He decided what to do, however, when he learned that the three balls which the giant had received in his shoulder and thigh, would quite disable him. He decided that it would be the best economy to make him a "terror to evil-doers," by having him hung!
The expectation of the court house people was all on tip-toe. Having slaves to labor for them, they had abundant leisure to attend to what most villages find it necessary to attend to, in some shape, that is, hearing and telling some new thing. The day for the execution was fixed as early as possible, for some two or three suggested that it was unsafe to have so powerful a man confined in their jail, although he was crippled with balls. "Who knows," said they, "but he may break jail and escape to the North?"
This was an unanswerable argument, and so, without judge or jury, save that every man acted in that capacity, he was sentenced to be hung on the morrow.
The man who officiated as pastor in the vicinity was sent to Jupe's cell, found him ready to confess his crime and penitently pray for forgiveness from on high. The crime was a momentary impulse, and poor Jupe shuddered
when he thought what he had done. Grief at being torn from his mother had unfitted him for work, and the hard usage of the overseer resulted as we have seen. We would turn from his scaffold and death, and from the cruel, hard-hearted curiosity which led people, who thought they were civilized, to look on and feast their eyes with seeing a fellow-being hung!
When the unfortunate man was dead, they severed his head from his body, and fastened it on the top of a broken Liberty pole, where it remained until every servant on all the plantations far and near, had heard of the fearful end of him who dared to raise his hand against an overseer! The horrid spectacle was well calculated to terrify all who were tempted to strike for freedom, and all who saw it trembled in every limb and tried to crush thoughts of getting free.
It was now that Mr. Whitely, being fully convinced that Jamie, so highly valued, had escaped, sent to the Richmond papers the advertisement found at the commencement of our narrative.
Jamie returns to the cave. The fugitives set out for the North. Reach a free state. The good Quaker. Important to the South. Mr. Whitely writes to a Philadelphia friend. The reply. Conscientiousness.
WE have thus related some of the causes, with attending circumstances and events, in minute detail, which led Jamie to figure in this advertisement, and now the "point of sight" is, did he escape? and how? In answering this question faithfully, we can not omit to notice those to whom Jamie was so much attached, left in the mountain.
After Ella died, their thoughts were turned to God in their sorrow. Tray had some just ideas of the Savior, and of heaven, which Jamie had taught him from his Bible, and in his turn he instructed Gumfrey in the things of religion. Old Archy managed to visit them often. Besides, he found time to "tote" faggots of wood from the forest for his master's use, who paid him with food, so that he was able to spare all that he drew on "allowance day" for the poor exiles. Night after night he visited them, with a yearning heart for Jamie's return, until he reluctantly gave it up, and as he did so, told the cave-people that it was best to prepare to go on
their way, as there was danger to them all so long as they remained there. The next night he came again, prepared to fit them off. Just as they are about bidding each other adieu, they are interrupted. It can not be Jamie,--yes, it is even so! and there is a meeting of rapture.
But "where is Ella?" asks Jamie for his little sister. "Oh where is Ella?"
"Gone! gone!" said little Kitt, throwing himself into Jamie's arms, as he wept.
"Gone?" inquired Jamie.
"Gone to her grave!" said old Archy.
"Bless the Father! she is free!" said Jamie, bursting into tears, and then, as by one impulse, all knelt down and prayed. It was as if the spirit of old Scipio inspired the heart of Jamie, when, with his Bible clasped, he poured out his full soul to God. The prayer was ended, and that gentle dove, the Comforter, rested upon them, and peace, such as the world can not give nor take away, was given to the little band. Old Archy went to his cot, praising God for his goodness.
With the morning light, Jamie was by the grave of Ella, that sweet, protected spot. Few slave children are so blessed in their death and burial as was little Ella. Those hollies had been long growing, and the
eglantine long twining to form her grave-bower. Jamie wept as he stood by her lowly bed, but they were not bitter tears. They were those tears of joy which sometimes mingled in the cup of grief. He rejoiced that the huntsman could not take the poor fawn from its safe refuge. And while all in the future was dim and uncertain, lighted only by the polar-star, the thought that the little child Ella was free from all his own fearful strugglings, was a soothing thought to his agitated heart.
Another day passed, and with the darkness came Archy and Edy, for the last time to meet those who had so deeply engrossed their hearts for so many weeks. Their simple preparations were completed early in the evening, as they wished to press on as far as possible under the wing of that night. Few words were spoken, but there were many silent prayers and unbidden tears, and with hasty adieus and Archy's fervent "God bless you!" they departed. Archy and Edy stood without the cave a moment, watching them as they crossed the torrent,--Jamie with his Bible, Tray with the package of food, and Gumfrey assisting Kitt. They then went in and arranged the rocky abode, so as to leave it ready for the reception of the next pilgrims that might lodge there. "For," said Archy, "I has a persuadement
that more of my poor slave people will want rest here!"
Think you Archy was wrong?
Carlo was ready, when they had put things in the cave to rights, to follow them down the mountain, and they safely reached their cabin, grateful for the preserving care of "our Father."
Meanwhile the fugitives went on, guided by the bright north star. During this night they kept on the mountain ridge, and by day hid themselves in the thick cedars. The next night they descended and groped on through the tangled underwood which obstructed their way. The next and the next night they plodded on, and at length reached Maryland, that has so much ado to defend her part of the Bastile walls. Close hunted were they, "like the partridge on the mountains," but the God of heaven sent out his angel to guide and guard them, and their pursuers, although led on by "evil angels," were baffled. Their supplies of food were gone, and, as often before, they had recourse to the hospitalities of Nature's hand. Many a time by day were they under the necessity of roaming woods for nuts and berries, and when night came, with what eagerness did they look to the heavens, to ascertain their whereabouts by the bright star of freedom. Often,
too, were they driven by extreme hunger to visit by night the corn-fields, to eat of the corn. Do you think it was stealing? Think you that the slave can not justly claim a portion of the riches of the South on the score of unpaid wages? When the master and the slave settle accounts, who, think you, will be the debtor? One night more, and they were beyond nominal slave territory; but is it consecrated to freedom? Is the slave there protected from his pursuers? "Is there an acre, or an inch of ground within the limits of the great American Republic, which is not mortgaged to slavery," so far as it is in the power of our laws thus to convey it away? It is even so; there is not a foot of our New England even, that boasts of her learning, liberty, and religion, where the enslaved are free! "Not a square inch on Bunker Hill, or any other hill, nor cleft, nor crag, nor cavern, in her mountain sides, nor nook in her dells, nor lair in her forests, nor a hearth, nor a cabin door, which doth not bear the bloody endorsement of slavery." "It is in the bond--the bond of our Union, ordained to establish justice, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity."
Nevertheless, Jamie being unacquainted with the extent of his danger, and emboldened as he was by
stern necessity, now ventured out by daylight to get food, leaving his companions secreted in the woods. Kind Providence directed him to the house of a Quaker, who was a warm-hearted friend of the unfortunate poor. The good old Penn welcomed the tremulous youth who came to him for aid; he knew that dangers were all about him, and his noble heart was touched with the desire to assist him in his struggles to reach a place of safety.
"It was right for thee to leave thy master," said he, as he listened to Jamie's recital. "Thou hast no right to be a slave!"
Then, as he saw the emaciated being before him had fasted long, he gave him food, clothed him well, and made up a package for his brethren in the woods; in short was the "likewise" of the good Samaritan, to those whose lot has been all their lives to "fall among thieves," for no one can be a slave unless robbed of his liberty.
"Thee must beware," said the Quaker, "for the blood-hounds will follow thee;" and as he saw that Jamie was disposed to be off his guard, now that he was out of the slave states, he read to him the following advertisement from a Southern paper.
F. H. Pettis, native of Orange Co., Va., being located in the city of New York, in the practice of law, announces to his friends and the public in general, that he has been engaged as counsel and adviser in general for a party whose business it is, in northern cities, to ARREST AND SECURE RUNAWAY SLAVES. He has been thus engaged FOR SEVERAL YEARS, and as the act of Congress alone governs now in this city, in business of this sort, which renders it easy for recovery of such property, he invites post-paid communications to him, inclosing a fee of twenty dollars, in each case, and a power of attorney merely descriptive of the party absconded, and if in the northern region, he or she will soon be had.
N. B. New York city is estimated to contain five thousand runaway slaves.
F. H. PETTIS.
After fully explaining this document, the Quaker gave him directions what course to pursue, to reach Philadelphia, also where to find the Vigilance Committee of that place, who would see that himself and companions were safely forwarded to New York. Then, while the tears coursed down his cheeks, he bade him God-speed, and Jamie sped back to those he had left in the woods.
The advertisement with which our narrative commences is a specimen of the anxiety which Geo. Whitely felt to repossess that portion of his valuable personal estate, vested in the person of Jamie. But this was not a solitary effort; "fortunately," said he, "I
have an efficient friend in Philadelphia, who will, mayhap, stop the thief, if he should seek the North." He therefore wrote him to the effect that he wished him to watch for, and apprehend his runaway servant, at the same time minutely describing him, by sending the advertisement--a delicate way of saying, "apprehend him and you shall share the reward!"
Now Mr.--, to whom the letter was addressed, knew very well where to search for the described individual; so keeping a good look-out in that quarter, he recognized Jamie as answering the description sent him by his friend Mr. Whitely. At this he was greatly rejoiced, and still more so when he found that Jamie was accompanied by three others! The manner in which he arrested them precluded all resistance, and too, just as they were entering that city, which has to such a fearful extent proved herself the bulwark of slavery. And moreover, kind reader, we think in the circumstances he did quite right. He arrested them when they were on the very threshold of freedom; and as most people friendly to the southern "institution" would have done, did he place them in a hold for safe keeping, until he could remand them back to their masters and claim the reward? No, he did no such thing; but he took them to his snug little cottage, fed and warmed them,
and then took them to the Committee of Vigilance, with their hearts warmed with gratitude to him for his kindness. Mr.--had been a rich man, one of the most thriving merchants of Philadelphia; but losing his property when the United States Bank was broken by sinking $27,000,000 of her capital at the South, he was under the necessity of exchanging his princely dwelling for one far humbler in description. The manner in which he lost his property led him to open his eyes to the state of the South. The reverses of his fortune had a good effect upon his character, the sympathies of his heart were enlarged, and the poor and oppressed were entertained there as never before. In fine, he was no longer identified in feeling with the slave proprietor. All this, however, was unknown to Geo. Whitely, as the two friends had had no intercourse for several years. After helping Jamie to escape, by intrusting him to the committee whose business it is to forward to a place of safety the unfortunate poor that apply to them for succor, Mr.--sat down and wrote the following letter to his old college friend.
PHILADELPHIA, Sept. 7th, 18--.
MY DEAR WHITELY,--Your favor of the 2nd inst. was duly received, and I have the pleasure of informing you that one part of your request I have fulfilled to the letter, i. e., that which related to the taking of Jamie. After receiving yours I kept close watch for
three days, and on the fourth, found not only Jamie, but three others, all fresh from bondage. As they could make no resistance, I arrested them forthwith. Instead of putting them in jail until I could forward them South, I invited them to walk home with me, to "be warmed and filled." (By the way, you must know that I lost all but a pittance in the United States Bank, and now live in a very plain way.) My two Marys, wife and daughter, heard the sorrows of our poor guests, and with their eyes set in tears prepared them supper. Having provided them with the clothing that they needed, through the kindness of a friend who proffered his purse for the purpose, I delivered them into the care of the Committee of Vigilance, who will see them transported to New York and put in charge of a similar association there.
Now you will say in surprise of soul, why have you betrayed the trust I reposed in you? Why was this waste of property made? Friend Whitely, I have acted conscientiously, and if you desire it, will pay you the price of Jamie whom I helped to escape. I will do it cheerfully, even if I am compelled to toil it out by the labor of my hands. I have adopted the sentiment that the slave has a better claim to himself than his master has, and I do fully believe that he has a perfect right to his freedom, and is consequently to be justified in running away. Indeed, I think the duty he owes to his posterity, imperatively calls on him to break the thraldom which is keeping him and his race low and stationary in the scale of being.
I know not, my dear friend, but you are the kindest master in all the South, but that does not make it right for you to hold them slaves; it does not justify slavery. Because one man drinks less deeply than another we can not say that intemperance is not most pernicious, and that teetotalism is not its only remedy. So of slavery, and the only remedy is freetotalism. Colonization and all the surface modes of touching the matter, are to slavery just what "moderate drinking" is to the temperance cause; they can not cure the evil, but it increases in spite of them.
To show you that I am willing to practice what I preach, and
make some sacrifice for the sake of humanity, I will pay you for Jamie.
To change the order of society, abolish slavery, and institute the system of paid labor, will, I fear, cost the rich man dear; not more so, however, than the breaking of a bank has cost me. If your wife and daughter are like my two Marys, by hiring a little domestic work you will get along without suffering, at least, and I will insure you more peace of mind and true happiness than ever you possessed in your life.
The change in my circumstances has led me to reflect, and after much thought and deliberation, I have come to these conclusions respecting slavery, which I freely transmit to you, praying that Heaven may give you to see your position in its bearings on those around you.
I remain as ever,
Geo. Whitely, Esq.
The above letter was not long in reaching its destination, and produced very much the same effect on the proprietor of Redfield, as arguments presented to distillers and rumsellers produce, when that class of individuals decide to be of the "same opinion still," and intrench themselves behind that most miserable defense, "If I do not manufacture and vend ardent spirits somebody else will!" And those who oppose temperance from interested motives, (when hard driven to get arguments to sustain them,) tack round and get the Bible to help them, by wresting it of course. "We have a conscience," say they, "and we would not be worse than
infidels, 'for he that provideth not for his own house is worse than an infidel.' Charity begins at home. We must first discharge the duties we owe our families before we think of others."
The slaveholder said, "If I should free my slaves it would be of no earthly use, for others will continue to hold property in men, women and children, just as they do now. Besides, it would be neither benevolent nor patriotic to set them free, for the State laws expressly say that free people of color are a nuisance, and ten chances to one they would be kidnapped and sold again.
In fine, the medium through which Mr. Whitely viewed things was most unfortunate, for the good effect of his friend's letter. He was not an impartial judge in the case, inasmuch as his interest was concerned. And it may be remarked that this is ever true, when the pocket separates reason and conscience; poor reason, left in the dark, comes to wrong conclusions.
"Pilgrims and wanderers,
Hither we come;
Where the free dare to be--
This is our home!"
The New York Committee of Vigilance welcome the flying strangers. Arrive in Rochester. John's cottage. Judy and Rose. Meeting of the free family. Conclusion.
VERY happy were the Committee of Vigilance to assist Jamie and his companions on their way. Owing to steam they were soon in New York. There they were kindly received by the friends of the poor before referred to. But how shall we describe the emotions of these voluntary exiles from slavery, when they felt their feet planted on the soil of freedom, as they thought New York; for despite the warning of the good old Quaker, Jamie was prone to forget that there could be any danger so far from his old prison. All would fain have thought that they had reached the end of their toilsome journey, and that this was the free land; but no! they were told by those that make it a business to befriend the unfortunate, that they were not safe! For this is not a free country, much as we have made it our boast. As one has said, "the North is one great hunting
park, where the Southron hunts the slave, and the South has been and is soliciting the men of the North to enlist and form themselves into packs of hounds, that the game may not escape!" And we blush when we say that Northerners there are, who are proud to be dogs and do the bidding of their Southern masters! Humiliating as is the thought, this whole country, every inch of it, is consecrated to slavery. In no part of it, according to the laws of the land, can the slave be free, and every where throughout its limits, is the freeman exposed to be sold into helpless bondage. Time would fail us to tell of the efforts made by Mr. Whitely's agent in New York to recapture the "negro man, Jamie;" suffice it to say, it was only by the eagle-eyed vigilance of those to whom he was intrusted, that he escaped. By the blessing of God on their skillful management and extraordinary exertions, Jamie, his three companions, and six other flying ones, were put in care of the worthy and humane Capt.--, of packet boat--, on the Erie Canal. We next hear of them in an invoice of goods received by a respectable house in Rochester, New York, wherein they are mentioned as, "TEN BALES OF HUMANITY, in a thriving condition, late from three plantations in Virginia!"
It is a cold evening in October. The Canadian forest-trees have doffed their summer plumes, for the Winter King is on his way. Fair Luna, unmooring her skiff in the sky, sails boldly in its blue ocean-depths. And she quietly gazeth on many a happy home beneath her, and on many a cottage of the rescued from the Southern land.
The peaceful cottage of John is lighted as usual at this hour, and a cheerful fire is burning on the well-swept hearth. A tea-kettle sings in one corner of the chimney, while staid madam puss composedly purrs in the other. John is smoking his pipe with the same at-ease air, observable in other free people who now and then indulge in smoking. Judy and Rose, having cleared away the supper things, are seated by the clean pine table on which two candles are burning, intently engaged with the work of their fingers. Judy is sewing on a customer's hat, and Rose is toeing off a pair of nice lamb's wool stockings for her father. Now and then they chat a little respecting their plans of comfort for the winter; for they are delighted to do any thing to promote the happiness of their father, to whom they are devotedly attached. The little cottage has its flower garden, and had you been there in summer-time, you would have seen roses, lilies, pinks and four-o'clocks in
profusion. A hop-vine, having wearied itself with clambering over the cottage, stops and dresses its clusters for the hand of the gatherer. In summer you would have seen holly-hocks standing sentinels in the little inclosure, to stop all such intruders as humming-birds, butterflies, and busy-bees, and too, a sparkling free stream ever bounding by with its cheerful song.
But the evening of which we were speaking goes on, as such evenings ever do, much as we wish they would linger and let us enjoy them longer. John has finished smoking and laid by his pipe on the shelf over the fireplace, and is industriously weaving a basket. The cheerful chit-chat now enlivens the domestic circle. Judy and Rose, often pensive and sad, thinking of the loved ones far away, are quite mirthful from an irrepressible flow of good spirits. In truth, enjoying such a home, laboring for their father and themselves, they have far more cause for rejoicing, than when toiling without aim or object, (save it were to escape punishment,) unthanked and unpaid. Once, let them toil from twilight to twilight, and not one of their "kin" was the better for it; and now they can take care of themselves, and be comfortably fed, clothed, sheltered and warmed, and have no cause of sorrow save the bondage of their race, which daily calls forth their prayers and tears.
There is a knock at the door; but it excites no alarm, as they are in a free country, and Judy rising, takes a light to go to the door, saying Madam N.'s servant must have brought her more work. She opens the door, and the light falls upon four of her poor slave people. She does not recognize her three brothers; but Jamie springing forward and clasping her in his arms, exclaims,
"Don't you know me, Judy?"
The bewildered girl can not reply, but Rose and her father are by her side, and comprehend that God has in truth answered their prayers, and sent their loved ones to them.
"It is, it is my boys!" said John with checked utterance, and weeping for joy.
"Father! Father!" said little Kitt, springing to his arms.
"Father! Father!" said Tray, clasping his neck.
Jamie, Judy, and Rose wept for joy in one group, while happy John and his two youngest born formed another. Gumfrey stood by, looking on, and taking tears out of the corners of his eyes, happier than when he witnessed the meeting in the cave, for he feels now that they are a "kin" to him, and he pours the feelings of his heart into the same channel. O, what a joyful meeting! Contrast the guilty pleasures and gains of slavery with
the joys of that one interview, and how contemptible are they in the comparison! We now leave the happy family to tell the thrilling stories of their sufferings, and to mingle in one blessed current their common joys and sorrows; yet it is with reluctance, for gladly would we follow them as they just begin to live in a free state of existence. We leave them, having extricated themselves from the shackles of tyranny, by God's blessing on their energy and enterprise, their buoyant hearts overflowing with gratitude to Him who hath given them to be free.