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Among the Pines - or, South in Secession Time
by James R. Gilmore
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If lightning had struck in the room I could not have been more startled than I was by the abrupt utterance of such language in a planter's house, in his very presence, and by his slave. The Colonel, however, expressed no surprise and no disapprobation. It was evidently no new thing to him.

"It is rare, madam," I said, "to hear such sentiments from a Southern lady—one reared among slaves."

Before she could reply, the Colonel laughingly said:

"Bless you, Mr. K——, madam is an out-and-out abolitionist, worse by fifty per cent. than Garrison or Wendell Phillips. If she were at the North she would take to pantaloons, and 'stump' the entire free States; wouldn't you, Alice?"

"I have no doubt of it," rejoined the lady, smiling. "But I fear I should have poor success. I've tried for ten years to convert you, and Mr. K—— can see the result."

It had grown late; and with my head full of working niggers and white slave-women, I went to my apartment.

The next day was Sunday. It was near the close of December, yet the air was as mild and the sun as warm as in our Northern October. It was arranged at the breakfast-table that we all should attend service at "the meeting-house," a church of the Methodist persuasion, located some eight miles away; but as it wanted some hours of the time for religious exercises to commence, I strolled out after breakfast, with the Colonel, to inspect the stables of the plantation. "Massa Tommy" accompanied us, without invitation; and in the Colonel's intercourse with him I observed as much freedom and familiarity as he would have shown to an acknowledged son. The youth's manners and conversation showed that great attention had been given to his education and training, and made it evident that the mother whose influence was forming his character, whatever a false system of society had made her life, possessed some of the best traits of her sex.

The stables, a collection of one-story framed buildings, about a hundred rods from the house, were well lighted and ventilated, and contained all "the modern improvements." They were better built, warmer, more commodious, and in every way more comfortable than the shanties occupied by the human cattle of the plantation. I remarked as much to the Colonel, adding that one who did not know would infer that he valued his horses more than his slaves.

"That may be true," he replied, laughing. "Two of my horses are worth more than any eight of my slaves;" at the same time calling my attention to two magnificent thorough-breds, one of which had made "2.32" on the Charleston course. The establishment of a Southern gentleman is not complete until it includes one or two of these useless appendages. I had an argument with my host as to their value compared with that of the steam-engine, in which I forced him to admit that the iron horse is the better of the two, because it performs more work, eats less, has greater speed, and is not liable to the spavin or the heaves; but he wound up by saying, "After all, I go for the thorough-breds. You Yankees have but one test of value—use."

A ramble through the negro-quarters, which followed our visit to the stables, gave me some further glimpses of plantation life. Many of the hands were still away in pursuit of Moye, but enough remained to make it evident that Sunday is the happiest day in the darky calendar. Groups of all ages and colors were gathered in front of several of the cabins, some singing, some dancing, and others chatting quietly together, but all enjoying themselves as heartily as so many young animals let loose in a pasture. They saluted the Colonel and me respectfully, but each one had a free, good-natured word for "Massa Tommy," who seemed an especial favorite with them. The lad took their greetings in good part, but preserved an easy, unconscious dignity of manner that plainly showed he did not know that he too was of their despised, degraded race.

The Colonel, in a rapid way, gave me the character and peculiarities of nearly every one we met. The titles of some of them amused me greatly. At every step we encountered individuals whose names have become household words in every civilized country.[F] Julius Caesar, slightly stouter than when he swam the Tiber, and somewhat tanned from long exposure to a Southern sun, was seated on a wood-pile, quietly smoking a pipe; while near him, Washington, divested of regimentals, and clad in a modest suit of reddish-gray, his thin locks frosted by time, and his fleshless visage showing great age, was gazing, in rapt admiration, at a group of dancers in front of old Lucy's cabin.

In this group about thirty men and women were making the ground quake and the woods ring with their unrestrained jollity. Marc Antony was rattling away at the bones, Nero fiddling as if Rome were burning, and Hannibal clawing at a banjo as if the fate of Carthage hung on its strings. Napoleon, as young and as lean as when he mounted the bridge of Lodi, with the battle-smoke still on his face, was moving his legs even faster than in the Russian retreat; and Wesley was using his heels in a way that showed they didn't belong to the Methodist church. But the central figures of the group were Cato and Victoria. The lady had a face like a thunder-cloud, and a form that, if whitewashed, would have outsold the "Greek Slave." She was built on springs, and "floated in the dance" like a feather in a high wind. Cato's mouth was like an alligator's, but when it opened, it issued notes that would draw the specie even in this time of general suspension. As we approached he was singing a song, but he paused on perceiving us, when the Colonel, tossing a handful of coin among them, called out, "Go on, boys; let the gentleman have some music; and you, Vic, show your heels like a beauty."

A general scramble followed, in which "Vic's" sense of decorum forbade her to join, and she consequently got nothing. Seeing that, I tossed her a silver piece, which she caught. Grinning her thanks, she shouted, "Now, clar de track, you nigs; start de music. I'se gwine to gib de gemman de breakdown."

And she did; and such a breakdown! "We w'ite folks," though it was no new thing to the Colonel or Tommy, almost burst with laughter.

In a few minutes nearly every negro on the plantation, attracted by the presence of the Colonel and myself, gathered around the performers; and a shrill voice at my elbow called out, "Look har, ye lazy, good-for-nuffin' niggers, carn't ye fotch a cheer for Massa Davy and de strange gemman?"

"Is that you, Aunty?" said the Colonel. "How d'ye do?"

"Sort o' smart, Massa Davy; sort o' smart; how is ye?"

"Pretty well, Aunty; pretty well. Have a seat." And the Colonel helped her to one of the chairs that were brought for us, with as much tenderness as he would have shown to an aged white lady.

The "exercises," which had been suspended for a moment, recommenced, and the old negress entered into them as heartily as the youngest present. A song from Cato followed the dance, and then about twenty "gentleman and lady" darkies joined, two at a time, in a half "walk-round" half breakdown, which the Colonel told me was the original of the well-known dance and song of Lucy Long. Other performances succeeded, and the whole formed a scene impossible to describe. Such uproarious jollity, such full and perfect enjoyment, I had never seen in humanity, black or white. The little nigs, only four or five years old, would rush into the ring and shuffle away at the breakdowns till I feared their short legs would come off; while all the darkies joined in the songs, till the branches of the old pines above shook as if they too had caught the spirit of the music. In the midst of it, the Colonel said to me, in an exultant tone:

"Well, my friend, what do you think of slavery now?"

"About the same that I thought yesterday. I see nothing to change my views."

"Why, are not these people happy? Is not this perfect enjoyment?"

"Yes; just the same enjoyment that aunty's pigs are having; don't you hear them singing to the music? I'll wager they are the happier of the two."

"No; you are wrong. The higher faculties of the darkies are being brought out here."

"I don't know that," I replied. "Within the sound of their voices, two of their fellows—victims to the inhumanity of slavery—are lying dead, and yet they make Sunday "hideous" with wild jollity, while Sam's fate may be theirs to-morrow."

Spite of his genuine courtesy and high breeding, a shade of displeasure passed over the Colonel's face as I made this remark. Rising to go, he said, a little impatiently, "Ah, I see how it is; that d—— Garrison's sentiments have impregnated even you. How can the North and the South hold together when moderate men like you and me are so far apart?"

"But you," I rejoined, good-humoredly, "are not a moderate man. You and Garrison are of the same stripe, both extremists. You have mounted one hobby, he another; that is all the difference."

"I should be sorry," he replied, recovering his good nature, "to think myself like Garrison. I consider him the —— scoundrel unhung."

"No; I think he means well. But you are both fanatics, both 'bricks' of the same material; we conservatives, like mortar, will hold you together and yet keep you apart."

"I, for one, won't be held. If I can't get out of this cursed Union in any other way, I'll emigrate to Cuba."

I laughed, and just then, looking up, caught a glimpse of Jim, who stood, hat in hand, waiting to speak to the Colonel, but not daring to interrupt a white conversation.

"Hallo, Jim," I said; "have you got back?"

"Yas, sar," replied Jim, grinning all over as if he had some agreeable thing to communicate.

"Where is Moye?" asked the Colonel.

"Kotched, massa; I'se got de padlocks on him."

"Kotched," echoed half a dozen darkies, who stood near enough to hear; "Ole Moye is kotched," ran through the crowd, till the music ceased, and a shout went up from two hundred black throats that made the old trees tremble.

"Now gib him de lashes, Massa Davy," cried the old nurse. "Gib him what he gabe pore Sam; but mine dat you keeps widin de law."

"Never fear, Aunty," said the Colonel; "I'll give him ——."

How the Colonel kept his word will be told in another chapter.

[Footnote E: Instances are frequent where Southern gentlemen form these left-handed connections, and rear two sets of differently colored children; but it is not often that the two families occupy the same domicil. The only other case within my personal knowledge was that of the well-known President of the Bank of St. M——, at Columbus, Ga. That gentleman, whose note ranked in Wall Street, when the writer was acquainted with that locality, as "A No. 1," lived for fifteen years with two "wives" under one roof. One, an accomplished white woman, and the mother of several children—did the honors of his table, and moved with him in "the best society;" the other—a beautiful quadroon, also the mother of several children—filled the humbler office of nurse to her own and the other's offspring.]

[Footnote F: Among the things of which slavery has deprived the black is a name. A slave has no family designation. It may be for that reason that a high-sounding appellation is usually selected for the single one he is allowed to appropriate.]



CHAPTER VII.

PLANTATION DISCIPLINE.

The "Ole Cabin" to which Jim had alluded as the scene of Sam's punishment by the overseer, was a one-story shanty in the vicinity of the stables. Though fast falling to decay, it had more the appearance of a human habitation than the other huts on the plantation. Its thick plank door was ornamented with a mouldy brass knocker, and its four windows contained sashes, to which here and there clung a broken pane, the surviving relic of its better days. It was built of large unhewn logs, notched at the ends and laid one upon the other, with the bark still on. The thick, rough coat which yet adhered in patches to the timber had opened in the sun, and let the rain and the worm burrow in its sides, till some parts had crumbled entirely away. At one corner the process of decay had gone on till roof, superstructure, and foundation had rotted down and left an opening large enough to admit a coach and four horses. The huge chimneys which had graced the gable ends of the building were fallen in, leaving only a mass of sticks and clay to tell of their existence, and two wide openings to show how great a figure they had once made in the world. A small space in front of the cabin would have been a lawn, had the grass been willing to grow upon it; and a few acres of cleared land in its rear might have passed for a garden, had it not been entirely overgrown with young pines and stubble. This primitive structure was once the "mansion" of that broad plantation, and, before the production of turpentine came into fashion in that region, its rude owner drew his support from its few surrounding acres, more truly independent than the present aristocratic proprietor, who, raising only one article, and buying all his provisions, was forced to draw his support from the Yankee or the Englishman.

Only one room, about forty feet square, occupied the interior of the cabin. It once contained several apartments, vestiges of which still remained, but the partitions had been torn away to fit it for its present uses. What those uses were, a moment's observation showed me.

In the middle of the floor, a space about fifteen feet square was covered with thick pine planking, strongly nailed to the beams. In the centre of this planking, an oaken block was firmly bolted, and to it was fastened a strong iron staple that held a log-chain, to which was attached a pair of shackles. Above this, was a queer frame-work of oak, somewhat resembling the contrivance for drying fruit I have seen in Yankee farmhouses. Attached to the rafters by stout pieces of timber, were two hickory poles, placed horizontally, and about four feet apart, the lower one rather more than eight feet from the floor. This was the whipping-rack, and hanging to it were several stout whips with short hickory handles, and long triple lashes. I took one down for closer inspection, and found burned into the wood, in large letters, the words "Moral Suasion." I questioned the appropriateness of the label, but the Colonel insisted with great gravity, that the whip is the only "moral suasion" a darky is capable of understanding.

When punishment is inflicted on one of the Colonel's negroes, his feet are confined in the shackles, his arms tied above his head, and drawn by a stout cord up to one of the horizontal poles; then, his back bared to the waist, and standing on tip-toe, with every muscle stretched to its utmost tension, he takes "de lashes."

A more severe but more unusual punishment is the "thumb-screw." In this a noose is passed around the negro's thumb and fore-finger, while the cord is thrown over the upper cross-pole, and the culprit is drawn up till his toes barely touch the ground. In this position the whole weight of the body rests on the thumb and fore-finger. The torture is excruciating, and strong, able-bodied men can endure it but a few moments. The Colonel naively told me that he had discontinued its practice, as several of his women had nearly lost the use of their hands, and been incapacitated for field labor, by its too frequent repetition. "My —— drivers,"[G] he added, "have no discretion, and no humanity; if they have a pique against a nigger, they show him no mercy."

The old shanty I have described was now the place of the overseer's confinement. Open as it was at top, bottom, and sides, it seemed an unsafe prison-house; but Jim had secured its present occupant by placing "de padlocks on him."

"Where did you catch him?" asked the Colonel, as, followed by every darky on the plantation, we took our way to the old building.

"In de swamp, massa. We got Sandy and de dogs arter him—dey treed him, but he fit like de debble."

"Any one hurt?"

"Yas, Cunnel; he knifed Yaller Jake, and ef I hadn't a gibin him a wiper, you'd a had anudder nigger short dis mornin'—shore."

"How was it? tell me," said his master, while we paused, and the darkies gathered around.

"Wal, yer see, massa, we got de ole debble's hat dat he drapped wen you had him down; den we went to Sandy's fur de dogs—dey scented him to onst, and off dey put for de swamp. 'Bout twenty on us follored 'em. He'd a right smart start on us, and run like a deer, but de hounds kotched up wid him 'bout whar he shot pore Sam. He fit 'em and cut up de Lady awful, but ole Caesar got a hole ob him, and sliced a breakfuss out ob his legs. Somehow, dough, he got 'way from de ole dog, and clum a tree. 'Twar more'n an hour afore we kotched up; but dar he war, and de houns baying 'way as ef dey know'd what an ole debble he am. I'd tuk one ob de guns—you warn't in de house, massa, so I cudn't ax you."

"Never mind that; go on," said the Colonel.

"Wal, I up wid de gun, and tole him ef he didn't cum down I'd gib him suffin' dat 'ud sot hard on de stummuk. It tuk him a long w'ile, but—he cum down." Here the darky showed a row of ivory that would have been a fair capital for a metropolitan dentist.

"When he war down," he resumed, "Jake war gwine to tie him, but de ole 'gator, quicker dan a flash, put a knife enter him."

"Is Jake much hurt?" interrupted the Colonel.

"Not bad, massa; de knife went fru his arm, and enter his ribs, but de ma'am hab fix him, and she say he'll be 'round bery sudden."

"Well, what then?" inquired the Colonel.

"Wen de ole debble seed he hadn't finished Jake, he war gwine to gib him anudder dig, but jus den I drap de gun on his cocoanut, and he neber trubble us no more. 'Twar mons'rous hard work to git him out ob de swamp, 'cause he war jess like a dead man, and had to be toted de hull way; but he'm dar now, massa (pointing to the old cabin), and de bracelets am on him."

"Where is Jake?" asked the Colonel.

"Dunno, massa, but reckon he'm to hum."

"One of you boys go and bring him to the cabin," said the Colonel.

A negro man went off on the errand, while we and the darkies resumed our way to the overseer's quarters. Arrived there, I witnessed a scene that words cannot picture.

Stretched at full length on the floor, his clothes torn to shreds, his coarse carroty hair matted with blood, and his thin, ugly visage pale as death, lay the overseer. Bending over him, wiping away the blood from his face, and swathing a ghastly wound on his forehead, was the negress Sue; while at his shackled feet, binding up his still bleeding legs, knelt the octoroon woman!

"Is she here?" I said, involuntarily, as I caught sight of the group.

"It's her nature," said the Colonel, with a pleasant smile; "if Moye were the devil himself, she'd do him good if she could; another such woman never lived."

And yet this woman, with all the instincts that make her sex angel-ministers to man, lived in daily violation of the most sacred of all laws—because she was a slave. Can Mr. Caleb Cushing or Charles O'Conor tell us why the Almighty invented a system which forces his creatures to break laws of His own making?

"Don't waste your time on him, Alice," said the Colonel, kindly; "he isn't worth the rope that'll hang him."

"He was bleeding to death; unless he has care he'll die," said the octoroon woman.

"Then let him die, d—— him," replied the Colonel, advancing to where the overseer lay, and bending down to satisfy himself of his condition.

Meanwhile more than two hundred dusky forms crowded around and filled every opening of the old building. Every conceivable emotion, except pity, was depicted on their dark faces. The same individuals whose cloudy visages a half hour before I had seen distended with a wild mirth and careless jollity, that made me think them really the docile, good-natured animals they are said to be, now glared on the prostrate overseer with the infuriated rage of aroused beasts when springing on their prey.

"You can't come the possum here. Get up, you —— hound," said the Colonel, rising and striking the bleeding man with his foot.

The fellow raised himself on one elbow and gazed around with a stupid, vacant look. His eye wandered unsteadily for a moment from the Colonel to the throng of cloudy faces in the doorway; then, his recent experience flashing upon him, he shrieked out, clinging wildly to the skirts of the octoroon woman, who was standing near, "Keep off them cursed hounds—keep them off, I say—they'll kill me! they'll kill me!"

One glance satisfied me that his mind was wandering. The blow on the head had shattered his reason, and made the strong man less than a child.

"You wont be killed yet," said the Colonel. "You've a small account to settle with me before you reckon with the devil."

At this moment the dark crowd in the doorway parted, and Jake entered, his arm bound up and in a sling.

"Jake, come here," said the Colonel; "this man would have killed you. What shall we do with him?"

"'Taint for a darky to say dat, massa," said the negro, evidently unaccustomed to the rude administration of justice which the Colonel was about to inaugurate; "he did wuss dan dat to Sam, massa—he orter swing for shootin' him."

"That's my affair; we'll settle your account first," replied the Colonel.

The darky looked undecidedly at his master, and then at the overseer, who, overcome by weakness, had sunk again to the floor. The little humanity in him was evidently struggling with his hatred of Moye and his desire for revenge, when the old nurse yelled out from among the crowd, "Gib him fifty lashes, Massa Davy, and den you wash him down.[H] Be a man, Jake, and say dat."

Jake still hesitated, and when at last he was about to speak, the eye of the octoroon caught his, and chained the words to his tongue, as if by magnetic power.

"Do you say that, boys;" said the Colonel, turning to the other negroes; "shall he have fifty lashes?"

"Yas, massa, fifty lashes—gib de ole debble fifty lashes," shouted about fifty voices.

"He shall have them," quietly said the master.

The mad shout that followed, which was more like the yell of demons than the cry of men, seemed to arouse Moye to a sense of his real position. Springing to his feet, he gazed wildly around; then, sinking on his knees before the octoroon, and clutching the folds of her dress, he shrieked, "Save me, good lady, save me! as you hope for mercy, save me!"

Not a muscle of her face moved, but, turning to the excited crowd, she mildly said, "Fifty lashes would kill him. Jake does not say that—your master leaves it to him, and he will not whip a dying man—will you, Jake?"

"No, ma'am—not—not ef you gwo agin it," replied the negro, with very evident reluctance.

"But he whipped Sam, ma'am, when Sam war nearer dead than he am," said Jim, whose station as house-servant allowed him a certain freedom of speech.

"Because he was brutal to Sam, should you be brutal to him? Can you expect me to tend you when you are sick, if you beat a dying man? Does Pompey say you should do such things?"

"No, good ma'am," said the old preacher, stepping out, with the freedom of an old servant, from the black mass, and taking his stand beside me in the open space left for the "w'ite folks;" "de ole man dusn't say dat, ma'am; he tell 'em dat de Lord want 'em to forgib dar en'mies—to lub dem dat pursyskute 'em;" and, turning to the Colonel, he added, as he passed his hand meekly over his thin crop of white wool and threw his long heel back, "ef massa'll 'low me I'll talk to 'em."

"Fire away," said the Colonel, with evident chagrin. "This is a nigger trial; if you want to screen the d—— hound you can do it."

"I dusn't want to screed him, massa, but I'se bery ole and got soon to gwo, and I dusn't want de blessed Lord to ax me wen I gets dar why I 'lowed dese pore ig'nant brack folks to mudder a man 'fore my bery face. I toted you, massa, 'fore you cud gwo, I'se worked for you till I can't work no more; and I dusn't want to tell de Lord dat my massa let a brudder man be killed in cole blood."

"He is no brother of mine, you old fool; preach to the nigs, don't preach to me," said the Colonel, stifling his displeasure, and striding off through the black crowd, without saying another word.

Here and there in the dark mass a face showed signs of relenting; but much the larger number of that strange jury, had the question been put, would have voted—DEATH.

The old preacher turned to them as the Colonel passed out, and said, "My chil'ren, would you hab dis man whipped, so weak, so dyin' as he am, ef he war brack?"

"No, not ef he war a darky—fer den he wouldn't be such an ole debble," replied Jim, and about a dozen of the other negroes.

"De w'ite aint no wuss dan de brack—we'm all 'like—pore sinners all on us. De Lord wudn't whip a w'ite man no sooner dan a brack one—He tinks de w'ite juss so good as de brack (good Southern doctrine, I thought). De porest w'ite trash wudn't strike a man wen he war down."

"We'se had 'nough of dis, ole man," said a large, powerful negro (one of the drivers), stepping forward, and, regardless of the presence of Madam P—— and myself, pressing close to where the overseer lay, now totally unconscious of what was passing around him. "You needn't preach no more; de Cunnel hab say we'm to whip ole Moye, and we'se gwine to do it, by ——."

I felt my fingers closing on the palm of my hand, and in a second more they might have cut the darky's profile, had not Madam P—— cried out, "Stand back, you impudent fellow: say another word, and I'll have you whipped on the spot."

"De Cunnel am my massa, ma'am—he say ole Moye am to be whipped, and I'se gwine to do it—shore."

I have seen a storm at sea—I have seen the tempest tear up great trees—I have seen the lightning strike in a dark night—but I never saw any thing half so grand, half so terrible, as the glance and tone of that woman as she cried out, "Jim, take this man—give him fifty lashes this instant."

Quicker than thought, a dozen darkies were on him. His hands and feet were tied and he was under the whipping-rack in a second. Turning then to the other negroes, the brave woman said, "Some of you carry Moye to the house, and you, Jim, see to this man—if fifty lashes don't make him sorry, give him fifty more."

This summary change of programme was silently acquiesced in by the assembled negroes, but many a cloudy face scowled sulkily on the octoroon, as, leaning on my arm, she followed Junius and the other negroes, who bore Moye to the mansion. It was plain that under those dark faces a fire was burning that a breath would have fanned into a flame.

We entered the house by its rear door, and placed Moye in a small room on the ground floor. He was laid on a bed, and stimulants being given him, his senses and reason shortly returned. His eyes opened, and his real position seemed suddenly to flash upon him, for he turned to Madam P——, and in a weak voice, half choked with emotion, faltered out: "May God in heaven bless ye, ma'am; God will bless ye for bein' so good to a wicked man like me. I doesn't desarve it, but ye woant leave me—ye woant leave me—they'll kill me ef ye do!"

"Don't fear," said the Madam; "you shall have a fair trial. No harm shall come to you here."

"Thank ye, thank ye," gasped the overseer, raising himself on one arm, and clutching at the lady's hand, which he tried to lift to his lips.

"Don't say any more now," said Madam P——, quietly; "you must rest and be quiet, or you wont get well."

"Shan't I get well? Oh, I can't die—I can't die now!"

The lady made a soothing reply, and giving him an opiate, and arranging the bedding so that he might rest more easily, she left the room with me.

As we stepped into the hall, I saw through the front door, which was open, the horses harnessed in readiness for "meeting," and the Colonel pacing to and fro on the piazza, smoking a cigar. He perceived us, and halted in the doorway.

"So you've brought that d—— bloodthirsty villain into my house!" he said to Madam P—— in a tone of strong displeasure.

"How could I help it? The negroes are mad, and would kill him anywhere else," replied the lady, with a certain self-confidence that showed she knew her power over the Colonel.

"Why should you interfere between them and him? Has he not insulted you enough to make you let him alone? Can you so easily forgive his taunting you with"—He did not finish the sentence, but what I had learned on the previous evening from the old nurse gave me a clue to its meaning. A red flame flushed the face and neck of the octoroon woman—her eyes literally flashed fire, and her very breath seemed to come with pain; in a moment, however, this emotion passed away, and she quietly said, "Let me settle that in my own way. He has served you well—you have nothing against him that the law will not punish."

"By ——, you are the most unaccountable woman I ever knew," exclaimed the Colonel, striding up and down the piazza, the angry feeling passing from his face, and giving way to a mingled expression of wonder and admiration. The conversation was here interrupted by Jim, who just then made his appearance, hat in hand.

"Well, Jim, what is it?" asked his master.

"We'se gib'n Sam twenty lashes, ma'am, but he beg so hard, and say he so sorry, dat I tole him I'd ax you 'fore we gabe him any more."

"Well, if he's sorry, that's enough; but tell him he'll get fifty another time," said the lady.

"What Sam is it?" asked the Colonel.

"Big Sam, the driver," said Jim.

"Why was he whipped?"

"He told me you were his master, and insisted on whipping Moye," replied the lady.

"Did he dare to do that? Give him a hundred, Jim, not one less," roared the Colonel.

"Yas, massa," said Jim, turning to go.

The lady looked significantly at the negro and shook her head, but said nothing, and he left.

"Come, Alice, it is nearly time for meeting, and I want to stop and see Sandy on the way."

"I reckon I wont go," said Madam P——.

"You stay to take care of Moye, I suppose," said the Colonel, with a slight sneer.

"Yes," replied the lady, "he is badly hurt, and in danger of inflammation."

"Well, suit yourself. Mr. K——, come, we'll go—you'll meet some of the natives."

The lady retired to the house, and the Colonel and I were soon ready. The driver brought the horses to the door, and as we were about to enter the carriage, I noticed Jim taking his accustomed seat on the box.

"Who's looking after Sam?" asked the Colonel.

"Nobody, Cunnel; de ma'am leff him gwo."

"How dare you disobey me? Didn't I tell you to give him a hundred?"

"Yas, massa, but de ma'am tole me notter."

"Well, another time you mind what I say—do you hear?" said his master.

"Yas, massa," said the negro, with a broad grin, "I allers do dat."

"You never do it, you d—— nigger; I ought to have flogged you long ago."

Jim said nothing, but gave a quiet laugh, showing no sort of fear, and we entered the carriage. I afterward learned from him that he had never been whipped, and that all the negroes on the plantation obeyed the lady when, which was seldom, her orders came in conflict with their master's. They knew if they did not, the Colonel would whip them.

As we rode slowly along the Colonel said to me, "Well, you see that the best people have to flog niggers sometimes."

"Yes, I should have given that fellow a hundred lashes, at least. I think the effect on the others would have been bad if Madam P—— had not had him flogged."

"But she generally goes against it. I don't remember of her having it done in ten years before. And yet, though I've the worst gang of niggers in the district, they obey her like so many children."

"Why is that?"

"Well, there's a kind of magnetism about her that makes everybody love her; and then she tends them in sickness, and is constantly doing little things for their comfort; that attaches them to her. She is an extraordinary woman."

"Whose negroes are those, Colonel?" I asked, as, after a while, we passed a gang of about a dozen, at work near the roadside. Some were tending a tar-kiln, and some engaged in cutting into fire-wood the pines which a recent tornado had thrown to the ground.

"They are mine, but they are working now for themselves. I let such as will, work on Sunday. I furnish the "raw material," and pay them for what they do, as I would a white man."

"Wouldn't it be better to make them go to hear the old preacher; couldn't they learn something from him?"

"Not much; Old Pomp never read any thing but the Bible, and he doesn't understand that; besides, they can't be taught. You can't make 'a whistle out of a pig's tail;' you can't make a nigger into a white man."

Just here the carriage stopped suddenly, and we looked out to see the cause. The road by which we had come was a mere opening through the pines; no fences separated it from the wooded land, and being seldom travelled, the track was scarcely visible. In many places it widened to a hundred feet, but in others tall trees had grown up on its opposite sides, leaving scarcely width enough for a single carriage to pass along. In one of these narrow passages, just before us, a queer-looking vehicle had upset, and scattered its contents in the road. We had no alternative but to wait till it got out of the way; and we all alighted to reconnoitre.

The vehicle was a little larger than an ordinary handcart, and was mounted on wheels that had probably served their time on a Boston dray before commencing their travels in Secessiondom. Its box of pine boarding and its shafts of rough oak poles were evidently of Southern home manufacture. Attached to it by a rope harness, with a primitive bridle of decidedly original construction, was—not a horse, nor a mule, nor even an alligator, but a "three-year-old heifer."

The wooden linch-pin of the cart had given way, and the weight of a half-dozen barrels of turpentine had thrown the box off its balance, and rolled the contents about in all directions.

The appearance of the proprietor of this nondescript vehicle was in keeping with his establishment. His coat, which was much too short in the waist and much too long in the skirts, was of the common reddish gray linsey, and his nether garments, which stopped just below the knees, were of the same material. From there downwards, he wore only the covering that is said to have been the fashion in Paradise before Adam took to fig-leaves. His hat had a rim broader than a political platform, and his skin a color half way between tobacco-juice and a tallow candle.

"Wal, Cunnul, how dy'ge?" said the stranger, as we stepped from the carriage.

"Very well, Ned; how are you?"

"Purty wal, Cunnul; had the nagur lately, right smart, but'm gittin' 'roun'."

"You're in a bad fix here, I see. Can Jim help you?"

"Wal, p'raps he moight. Jim, how dy'ge?"

"Sort o' smart, ole feller. But come, stir yerseff; we want ter gwo 'long," replied Jim, with a lack of courtesy that showed he regarded the white man as altogether too "trashy" to be treated with much ceremony.

With the aid of Jim, a new linch-pin was soon whittled out, the turpentine rolled on to the cart, and the vehicle put in a moving condition.

"Where are you hauling your turpentine?" asked the Colonel.

"To Sam Bell's, at the 'Boro'."

"What will he pay you?"

"Wal, I've four barr'ls of 'dip,' and tu of 'hard.' For the hull, I reckon he'll give three dollar a barr'l."

"By tale?"

"No, for tu hun'red and eighty pound."

"Well, I'll give you two dollars and a half, by weight."

"Can't take it, Cunnel; must get three dollar."

"What, will you go sixty miles with this team, and waste five or six days, for fifty cents on six barrels—three dollars!"

"Can't 'ford the time, Cunnel, but must git three dollar a barr'l."

"That fellow is a specimen of our 'natives,'" said the Colonel, as we resumed our seats in the carriage. "You'll see more of them before we get back to the plantation."

"He puts a young cow to a decidedly original use," I remarked.

"Oh no, not original here; the ox and the cow with us are both used for labor."

"You don't mean to say that cows are generally worked here?"

"Of course I do. Our breeds are good for nothing as milkers, and we put them to the next best use. I never have cow's milk on my plantation."

"You don't! I could have sworn it was in my coffee this morning."

"I wouldn't trust you to buy brandy for me, if your organs of taste are not keener than that. It was goat's milk."

"Then how do you get your butter?"

"From the North. I've had mine from my New York factors for over ten years."

We soon arrived at Sandy, the negro-hunter's, and halted to allow the Colonel to inquire as to the health of his family of children and dogs—the latter the less numerous, but, if I might judge by appearances, the more valued of the two.

[Footnote G: The negro-whippers and field overseers.]

[Footnote H: Referring to the common practice of bathing the raw and bleeding backs of the punished slaves with a strong solution of salt and water.]



CHAPTER VIII.

THE NEGRO HUNTER.

Alighting from the carriage, I entered, with my host, the cabin of the negro-hunter. So far as external appearance went, the shanty was a slight improvement on the "Mills House," described in a previous chapter; but internally, it was hard to say whether it resembled more a pig-sty or a dog-kennel. The floor was of the bare earth, covered in patches with loose plank of various descriptions, and littered over with billets of "lightwood," unwashed cooking utensils, two or three cheap stools, a pine settee—made from the rough log and hewn smooth on the upper side—a full-grown bloodhound, two younger canines, and nine half-clad juveniles of the flax-head species. Over against the fire-place three low beds afforded sleeping accommodation to nearly a dozen human beings (of assorted sizes, and dove-tailed together with heads and feet alternating), and in the opposite corner a lower couch, whose finer furnishings told plainly it was the peculiar property of the "wee ones" of the family—a mother's tenderness for her youngest thus cropping out even in the midst of filth and degradation—furnished quarters for an unwashed, uncombed, unclothed, saffron-hued little fellow about fifteen months old, and—the dog "Lady." She was of a dark hazel color—a cross between a pointer and a bloodhound—and one of the most beautiful creatures I ever saw. Her neck and breast were bound about with a coarse cotton cloth, saturated with blood, and emitting a strong odor of bad whiskey; and her whole appearance showed the desperate nature of the encounter with the overseer.

The nine young democrats who were lolling about the room in various attitudes, rose as we entered, and with a familiar but rather deferential "How-dy'ge," to the Colonel, huddled around and stared at me with open mouths and distended eyes, as if I were some strange being, dropped from another sphere. The two eldest were of the male gender, as was shown by their clothes—cast-off suits of the inevitable reddish-gray, much too large, and out at the elbows and the knees—but the sex of the others I was at a loss to determine, for they wore only a single robe, reaching, like their mother's, from the neck to the knees. Not one of the occupants of the cabin boasted a pair of stockings, but the father and mother did enjoy the luxury of shoes—coarse, stout brogans, untanned, and of the color of the legs which they encased.

"Well, Sandy, how is 'Lady?'" asked the Colonel, as he stepped to the bed of the wounded dog.

"Reckon she's a goner, Cunnel; the d—— Yankee orter swing fur it."

This intimation that the overseer was a countryman of mine, took me by surprise, nothing I had observed in his speech or manners having indicated it, but I consoled myself with the reflection that Connecticut had reared him—as she makes wooden hams and nutmegs—expressly for the Southern market.

"He shall swing for it, by ——. But are you sure the slut will die?"

"Not shore, Cunnel, but she can't stand, and the blood will run. I reckon a hun'red and fifty ar done for thar, sartin."

"D—— the money—I'll make that right. Go to the house and get some ointment from Madam—she can save her—go at once," said my host.

"I will, Cunnel," replied the dirt-eater, taking his broad-brim from a wooden peg, and leisurely leaving the cabin. Making our way then over the piles of rubbish and crowds of children that cumbered the apartment, the Colonel and I returned to the carriage.

"Dogs must be rare in this region," I remarked, as we resumed our seats.

"Yes, well-trained bloodhounds are scarce everywhere. That dog is well worth a hundred and fifty dollars."

"The business of nigger-catching, then, is brisk, just now?"

"No, not more brisk than usual. We always have more or less runaways."

"Do most of them take to the swamps?"

"Yes, nine out of ten do, though now and then one gets off on a trading vessel. It is almost impossible for a strange nigger to make his way by land from here to the free states."

"Then why do you Carolinians make such an outcry about the violation of the Fugitive Slave Law?"

"For the same reason that dogs quarrel over a naked bone. We should be unhappy if we couldn't growl at the Yankees," replied the Colonel, laughing.

"We, you say; you mean by that, the hundred and eighty thousand nabobs who own five-sixths of your slaves?"[I]

"Yes, I mean them, and the three millions of poor whites—the ignorant, half-starved, lazy vermin you have just seen. They are the real basis of our Southern oligarchy, as you call it," continued my host, still laughing.

"I thought the negroes were the serfs in your feudal system?"

"Both the negroes and the poor whites are the serfs, but the white trash are its real support. Their votes give the small minority of slave-owners all their power. You say we control the Union. We do, and we do it by the votes of these people, who are as far below our niggers as the niggers are below decent white men. Who that reflects that this country has been governed for fifty years by such scum, would give a d—— for republican institutions?"

"It does speak badly for your institutions. A system that reduces nearly half of a white population to the level of slaves cannot stand in this country. The late election shows that the power of your 'white trash' is broken."

"Well, it does, that's a fact. If the states should remain together, the West would in future control the Union. We see that, and are therefore determined on dissolution. It is our only way to keep our niggers."

"The West will have to consent to that project. My opinion is, your present policy will, if carried out, free every one of your slaves."

"I don't see how. Even if we are put down—which we cannot be—and are held in the Union against our will, government cannot, by the constitution, interfere with slavery in the states."

"I admit that, but it can confiscate the property of traitors. Every large slave-holder is to-day, at heart, a traitor. If this movement goes on, you will commit overt acts against the government, and in self-defence it will punish treason by taking from you the means of future mischief."

"The Republicans and Abolitionists might do that if they had the power, but nearly one-half of the North is on our side, and will not fight us."

"Perhaps so; but if I had this thing to manage, I would put you down without fighting."

"How would you do it—by preaching abolition where even the niggers would mob you? There's not a slave in all South Carolina but would shoot Garrison or Greeley on sight."

"That may be, but if so, it is because you keep them in ignorance. Build a free-school at every cross-road, and teach the poor whites, and what would become of slavery? If these people were on a par with the farmers of New England, would it last for an hour? Would they not see that it stands in the way of their advancement, and vote it out of existence as a nuisance?"

"Yes, perhaps they would; but the school-houses are not at the cross-roads, and, thank God, they will not be there in this generation."

"The greater the pity; but that which will not flourish alongside of a school-house, cannot, in the nature of things, outlast this century. Its time must soon come."

"Enough for the day is the evil thereof. I'll risk the future of slavery, if the South, in a body, goes out of the Union."

"In other words, you'll shut out schools and knowledge, in order to keep slavery in existence. The Abolitionists claim it to be a relic of barbarism, and you admit it could not exist with general education among the people."

"Of course it could not. If Sandy, for instance, knew he were as good a man as I am—and he would be if he were educated—do you suppose he would vote as I tell him, go and come at my bidding, and live on my charity? No, sir! give a man knowledge, and, however poor he may be, he'll act for himself."

"Then free-schools and general education would destroy slavery?"

"Of course they would. The few cannot rule when the many know their rights. If the poor whites realized that slavery kept them poor, would they not vote it down? But the South and the world are a long way off from general education. When it comes to that, we shall need no laws, and no slavery, for the millennium will have arrived."

"I'm glad you think slavery will not exist during the millennium," I replied, good-humoredly; "but how is it that you insist the negro is naturally inferior to the white, and still admit that the 'white trash,' are far below the black slaves?"

"Education makes the difference. We educate the negro enough to make him useful to us; but the poor white man knows nothing. He can neither read nor write, and not only that, he is not trained to any useful employment. Sandy, here, who is a fair specimen of the tribe, obtains his living just like an Indian, by hunting, fishing, and stealing, interspersed with nigger-catching. His whole wealth consists of two hounds and pups; his house—even the wooden trough his miserable children eat from—belongs to me. If he didn't catch a runaway-nigger once in a while, he wouldn't see a dime from one year to another."

"Then you have to support this man and his family?"

"Yes, what I don't give him he steals. Half a dozen others poach on me in the same way."

"Why don't you set them at work?"

"They can't be made to work. I have hired them time and again, hoping to make something of them, but I never got one to work more than half a day at a time. It's their nature to lounge and to steal."

"Then why do you keep them about you?"

"Well, to be candid, their presence is of use in keeping the blacks in subordination, and they are worth all they cost me, because I control their votes."

"I thought the blacks were said to be entirely contented?"

"No, not contented. I do not claim that. I only say that they are unfit for freedom. I might cite a hundred instances in which it has been their ruin."

"I have not heard of one. It seems strange to me that a man who can support another cannot support himself."

"Oh! no, it's not at all strange. The slave has hands, and when the master gives him brains, he works well enough; but to support himself he needs both hands and brains, and he has only hands. I'll give you a case in point: At Wilmington, N. C., some years ago, there lived a negro by the name of Jack Campbell. He was a slave, and was employed, before the river was deepened so as to admit of the passage of large vessels up to the town, in lightering cargoes to the wharves. He hired his time of his master, and carried on business on his own account. Every one knew him, and his character for honesty, sobriety, and punctuality stood so high that his word was considered among merchants as good as that of the first business-men of the place. Well, Jack's wife and children were free, and he finally took it into his head to be free himself. He arranged with his master to purchase himself within a specified time, at eight hundred dollars, and he was to deposit his earnings in the hands of a certain merchant till they reached the required sum. He went on, and in three years had accumulated nearly seven hundred dollars, when his owner failed in business. As the slave has no right of property, Jack's earnings belonged by law to his master, and they were attached by the Northern creditors (mark that, by Northern creditors), and taken to pay the master's debts. Jack, too, was sold. His new owner also consented to his buying himself, at about the price previously agreed on. Nothing discouraged, he went to work again. Night and day he toiled, and it surprised every one to see so much energy and firmness of purpose in a negro. At last, after four more years of labor, he accomplished his purpose, and received his free-papers. He had worked seven years—as long as Jacob toiled for Rachel—for his freedom, and like the old patriarch he found himself cheated at last. I was present when he received his papers from his owner—a Mr. William H. Lippitt, who still resides at Wilmington—and I shall never forget the ecstasy of joy which he showed on the occasion. He sung and danced, and laughed, and wept, till my conscience smote me for holding my own niggers, when freedom might give them so much happiness. Well, he went off that day and treated some friends, and for three days afterward lay in the gutter, the entreaties of his wife and children having no effect on him. He swore he was free, and would do as he 'd—— pleased.' He had previously been a class-leader in the church, but after getting his freedom he forsook his previous associates, and spent his Sundays and evenings in a bar-room. He neglected his business; people lost confidence in him, and step by step he went down, till in five years he sunk into a wretched grave. That was the effect of freedom on him, and it would be the same on all of his race."

"It is clear," I replied, "he could not bear freedom, but that does not prove he might not have 'endured' it if he had never been a slave. His overjoy at obtaining liberty, after so long a struggle for it, led to his excesses and his ruin. According to your view, neither the black nor the poor white is competent to take care of himself. The Almighty, therefore, has laid upon you a triple burden; you not only have to provide for yourself and your children, but for two races beneath you, the black and the clay-eater. The poor nigger has a hard time, but it seems to me you have a harder one."

"Well, it's a fact, we do. I often think that if it wasn't for the color and the odor, I'd willingly exchange places with my man Jim."

The Colonel made this last remark in a half-serious, half-comic way, that excited my risibilities, but before I could reply, the carriage stopped, and Jim, opening the door, announced:

"We's har, massa, and de prayin' am gwine on."

[Footnote I: The foregoing statistics are correct. That small number of slave-holders sustains the system of slavery, and has caused this terrible rebellion. They are, almost to a man, rebels and secessionists, and we may cover the South with armies, and keep a file of soldiers upon every plantation, and not smother this insurrection, unless we break down the power of that class. Their wealth gives them their power, and their wealth is in their slaves. Free their negroes by an act of emancipation, or confiscation, and the rebellion will crumble to pieces in a day. Omit to do it, and it will last till doomsday.

The power of this dominant class once broken, with landed property at the South more equally divided, a new order of things will arise there. Where now, with their large plantations, not one acre in ten is tilled, a system of small farms will spring into existence, and the whole country be covered with cultivation. The six hundred thousand men who have gone there to fight our battles, will see the amazing fertility of the Southern soil—into which the seed is thrown and springs up without labor into a bountiful harvest—and many of them, if slavery is crushed out, will remain there. Thus a new element will be introduced into the South, an element that will speedily make it a loyal, prosperous, and intelligent section of the Union.

I would interfere with no one's rights, but a rebel in arms against his country has no rights; all that he has "is confiscate." Will the loyal people of the North submit to be ground to the earth with taxes to pay the expenditures of a war, brought upon them by these Southern oligarchists, while the traitors are left in undisturbed possession of every thing, and even their slaves are exempted from taxation? It were well that our legislators should ask this question now, and not wait till it's asked of them by THE PEOPLE.]



CHAPTER IX.

THE COUNTRY CHURCH.

Had we not been absorbed in conversation, we might have discovered, some time previous to our arrival at the church door, that the services had commenced, for the preacher was shouting at the top of his lungs. He evidently thought the Lord either a long way off, or very hard of hearing. Not wishing to disturb the congregation while at their devotions, we loitered near the doorway until the prayer was over, and in the mean time I glanced around the vicinity.

The "meeting-house," of large unhewn logs, was a story and a half in height, and about large enough to seat comfortably a congregation of two hundred persons. It was covered with shingles, with a roof projecting some four feet over the walls, and was surmounted at the front gable by a tower, about twelve feet square. This also was built of logs, and contained a bell "to call the erring to the house of prayer," though, unfortunately, all of that character thereabouts dwelt beyond the sound of its voice. The building was located at a cross-roads, about equally distant from two little hamlets (the nearer nine miles off), neither of which was populous enough to singly support a church and a preacher. The trees in the vicinity had been thinned out, so that carriages could drive into the woods, and find under the branches shelter from the rain and the sun; and at the time of my visit, about twenty vehicles of all sorts and descriptions, from the Colonel's magnificent barouche to the rude cart drawn by a single two-horned quadruped, filled the openings. There was a rustic simplicity about the whole scene that charmed me. The low, rude church, the grand old pines that towered in leafy magnificence around it, and the soft, low wind, that sung a morning hymn in the green, wavy woods, seemed to lift the soul up to Him who inhabiteth eternity, but who deigns to visit the erring children of men.

The preacher was about to "line out" one of Watts' psalms when we entered the church, but he stopped short on perceiving us, and, bowing low, waited till we had taken our seats. This action, and the sycophantic air which accompanied it, disgusted me, and turning to the Colonel, I asked, jocosely:

"Do the chivalry exact so much obsequiousness from the country clergy? Do you require to be bowed up to heaven?"

In a low voice, but high enough, I thought, for the preacher to hear, for we sat very near, the Colonel replied:

"He's a renegade Yankee—the meanest thing on earth."

I said no more, but entered into the services as seriously as the strange gymnastic performances of the preacher would allow of my doing; for he was quite as amusing as a circus clown.

With the exception of the Colonel's, and a few other pews in the vicinity of the pulpit, all of the seats were mere rough benches, without backs, and placed so closely together as to interfere uncomfortably with the knees of the sitters. The house was full, and the congregation as attentive as any I ever saw. All classes were there; the black serving-man away off by the doorway, the poor white a little higher up, the small turpentine-farmer a little higher still, and the wealthy planter, of the class to which the Colonel belonged, on "the highest seats of the synagogue," and in close proximity to the preacher.

The "man of prayer" was a tall, lean, raw-boned, angular-built individual, with a thin, sharp, hatchet-face, a small sunken eye, and long, loose hair, brushed back and falling over the collar of a seedy black coat. He looked like a dilapidated scare-crow, and his pale, sallow face, and cracked, wheezy voice, were in odd and comic keeping with his discourse. His text was: "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward." And addressing the motley gathering of poor whites and small planters before him as the "chosen people of God," he urged them to press on in the mad course their state had taken. It was a political harangue, a genuine stump-speech, but its frequent allusions to the auditory as the legitimate children of the old patriarch, and the rightful heirs of all the promises, struck me as out of place in a rural district of South Carolina, however appropriate it might have been in one of the large towns, before an audience of merchants and traders, who are, almost to a man, Jews.

The services over, the congregation slowly left the church. Gathered in groups in front of the "meeting-house," they were engaged in a general discussion of the affairs of the day, when the Colonel and I emerged from the doorway. The better class greeted my host with considerable cordiality, but I noticed that the well-to-do small planters, who composed the greater part of the assemblage, received him with decided coolness. These people were the "North County folks," on whom the overseer had invoked a hanging. Except that their clothing was more uncouth and ill-fashioned, and their faces generally less "cute" of expression, they did not materially differ in appearance from the rustic citizens who may be seen on any pleasant Sunday gathered around the doorways of the rural meeting-houses of New England.

One of them, who was leaning against a tree, quietly lighting a pipe, was a fair type of the whole, and as he took a part in the scene which followed, I will describe him. He was tall and spare, with a swinging, awkward gait, and a wiry, athletic frame. His hair, which he wore almost as long as a woman's, was coarse and black, and his face strongly marked, and of the precise color of two small rivulets of tobacco-juice that escaped from the corners of his mouth. He had an easy, self-possessed manner, and a careless, devil-may-care way about him, that showed he had measured his powers, and was accustomed to "rough it" with the world. He wore a broadcloth coat of the fashion of some years ago, but his waistcoat and nether garments of the common, reddish homespun, were loose and ill-shaped, as if their owner did not waste thought on such trifles. His hat, as shockingly bad as Horace Greeley's, had the inevitable broad brim, and fell over his face like a calash-awning over a shop-window. As I approached him he extended his hand with a pleasant "How are ye, stranger?"

"Very well," I replied, returning his grasp with equal warmth, "how are you?"

"Right smart, right smart, thank ye. You're——" the rest of the sentence was cut short by a gleeful exclamation from Jim, who, mounted on the box of the carriage, which was drawn up on the cleared plot in front of the meeting-house, waved an open newspaper over his head, and called out, as he caught sight of the Colonel:

"Great news, massa—great news from Charls'on!"

(The darky, while we were in church, had gone to the post-office, some four miles away, and got the Colonel's mail, which consisted of letters from his New York and Charleston factors, the Charleston Courier and Mercury and the New York Journal of Commerce. The latter sheet, at the date of which I am writing, was in wide circulation at the South, its piety (!) and its politics being then calculated with mathematical precision for secession latitudes.)

"What is it, Jim?" shouted his master. "Give it to us."

The darky had somehow learned to read, but holding the paper at arm's length, and throwing himself into a theatrical attitude, he cried out, with any amount of gesticulation:

"De news am, massa, and gemmen and ladies, dat de ole fort fore Charls'on hab ben devacuated by Major Andersin and de sogers, and dey hab stole 'way in de dark night and gone to Sumter, whar dey can't be took; and dat de ole Gubner hab got out a procdemation dat all dat don't lub de Aberlishen Yankees shill cum up dar and clar 'em out; and de paper say dat lots ob sogers hab cum from Georgi and Al'bama, and 'way down Souf, to help 'em. Dis am w'at de Currer say," he continued, holding the paper up to his eyes and reading: "Major Andersin, ob de United States army hab 'chieved de 'stinction ob op'ning cibil war 'tween American citizens; he hab desarted Moulfrie, and by false fretexts hab took dat ole Garrison and all his millinery stores to Fort Sumter."

"Get down, you d——d nigger," said the Colonel, laughing, and mounting the carriage-box beside him. "You can't read. Old Garrison isn't there—he's the d——d Northern Abolitionist."

"I knows dat, Cunnel, but see dar," replied Jim, holding the paper out to his master, "don't dat say he'm dar? It'm him dat make all de trubble. P'raps dis nig can't read, but ef dat aint readin' I'd like to know it!"

"Clear out," said the Colonel, now actually roaring with laughter; "it's the garrison of soldiers that the Courier speaks of, not the Abolitionist."

"Read it yoursef, den, massa, I don't seed it dat way."

Jim was altogether wiser than he appeared, but while equally as well pleased with the news as his master, he was so for an entirely different reason. In the crisis which these tidings announced, he saw hope for his race.

The Colonel then read the paper to the assemblage. The news was received with a variety of manifestations by the auditory, the larger portion, I thought, hearing it, as I did, with sincere regret.

"Now is the time to stand by the state, my friends," said my host, as he finished the reading. "I hope every man here is ready to do his duty by old South Carolina."

"Yes, sar! if she does har duty by the Union. We'll go to the death for har just so long as she's in the right, but not a d——d step if she arn't," said the long-legged native I have introduced to the reader.

"And what have you to say about South Carolina? What does she owe to you?" asked the Colonel, turning on the speaker with a proud and angry look.

"More, a darned sight, than she'll pay, if ye cursed 'ristocrats run her to h—— as ye'r doin'. She owes me, and 'bout ten as likely niggers as ye ever seed, a living, and we've d——d hard work to get it out on her now, let alone what's comin'."

"Don't talk to me, you ill-mannered cur," said my host, turning his back on his neighbor, and directing his attention to the remainder of the assemblage.

"Look har, Cunnel," replied the native, "if ye'll jest come down from thar, and throw 'way yer shootin'-irons, I'll give ye the all-firedest thrashing ye ever did get."

The Colonel gave no further heed to him, but the speaker mounted the steps of the meeting-house and harangued the natives in a strain of rude and passionate declamation, in which my host, the aristocrats, and the secessionists came in for about equal shares of abuse. Seeing that the native (who, it appeared, was quite popular as a stump-speaker) was drawing away his audience, the Colonel descended from the driver's seat, and motioning for me to follow, entered the carriage. Turning the horses homeward, we rode off at a brisk pace.

"Not much secession about that fellow, Colonel," I remarked, after a while.

"No," he replied, "he's a North Carolina 'corn-cracker,' one of the ugliest specimens of humanity extant. They're as thick as fleas in this part of the state, and about all of them are traitors."

"Traitors to the state, but true to the Union. As far as I've seen, that is the case with the middling class throughout the South." "Well, it may be, but they generally go with us, and I reckon they will now, when it comes to the rub. Those in the towns—the traders and mechanics—will, certain; its only these half-way independent planters that ever kick the traces. By the way," continued my host, in a jocose way, "what did you think of the preaching?"

"I thought it very poor. I'd rather have heard the stump-speech, had it not been a little too personal on you."

"Well, it was the better of the two," he replied, laughing, "but the old devil can't afford any thing good, he don't get enough pay."

"Why, how much does he get?"

"Only a hundred dollars."

"That is small. How does the man live?"

"Well, he teaches the daughter of my neighbor, Captain Randall, who believes in praying, and gives him his board. Randall thinks that enough. The rest of the parish can't afford to pay him, and I wont."

"Why wont you?"

"Because he's a d——d old hypocrite. He believes in the Union with all his heart—at least so Randall, who's a sincere Union man, says—and yet, he never sees me at meeting but he preaches a red-hot secession sermon."

"He wants to keep you in the faith," I replied.

A few more miles of sandy road took us to the mansion, where we found dinner in waiting. Meeting "Massa Tommy"—who had staid at home with his mother—as we entered the doorway, the Colonel asked after the overseer.

"He seems well enough, sir; I believe he's coming the possum over mother."

"I'll bet on it, Tommy; but he wont fool you and me, will he, my boy?" said his father, slapping him affectionately on the back.

After dinner I went, with my host to the room of the wounded man. His head was still bound up, and he was groaning piteously, as if in great pain; but I thought there was too fresh a color in his face to be entirely natural in one who had lost so much blood, and been so severely wounded as he affected to have been.

The Colonel mentioned our suspicions to Madam P——, and suggested that the shackles should be put on him.

"Oh! no, don't do that; it would be inhuman," said the lady; "the color is the effect of fever. If you fear he is plotting to get away, let him be watched."

The Colonel consented, but with evident reluctance, to the arrangement, and retired to his room to take a siesta, while I lit a segar, and strolled out to the negro quarters.

Making my way through the woods to the scene of the morning's jollification, I found about a hundred darkies gathered around Jim, on the little plot in front of old Lucy's cabin. He had evidently been giving them the news. Pausing when I came near, he exclaimed:

"Har's Massa K——, he'll say dat I tells you de trufh;" and turning to me, he said: "Massa K——, dese darkies say dat Massa Andersin am an ab'lisherner, and dat none but de ab'lisherners will fight for de Union; am dat so, sar?"

"No, I reckon not, Jim; I think the whole North would fight for it if it were necessary."

"Am dat so, massa? am dat so?" eagerly inquired a dozen of the darkies; "and am dar great many folks at de Norf—more dan dar am down har?"

"Yas, you fools, didn't I tell you dat?" said Jim, as I, not exactly relishing the idea of preaching treason, in the Colonel's absence, to his slaves, hesitated to reply. "Haint I tole you," he continued, "dat in de big city ob New York dar'm more folks dan in all Car'lina? I'se been dar, and I knows; and Massa K——'ll tell you dat dey—most on 'em—feel mighty sorry for de brack man."

"No he wont," I replied, "and besides, Jim, you should not talk in this way before me; I might tell your master."

"No! you wont do dat; I knows you wont, massa. Scipio tole us he'd trust his bery life wid you."

"Well, perhaps he might; it's true I would not injure you;" saying that, I turned away, though my curiosity was greatly excited to hear more.

I wandered farther into the woods, and a half-hour found me near one of the turpentine distilleries. Seating myself on a rosin barrel, I quietly finished my segar, and was about lighting another, when Jim made his appearance.

"Beg pardon, Massa K——," said the negro, bowing very low, "but I wants to ax you one or two tings, ef you please, sar."

"Well," I replied, "I'll tell you any thing that I ought to."

"Der yer tink, den, massa, dat dey'll git to fightin' at Charl'son?"

"Yes, judging by the tone of the Charleston papers you've read to-day, I think they will."

"And der yer tink dat de rest ob de Souf will jine wid Souf Car'lina, if she go at it fust?"

"Yes, Jim, I'm inclined to think so."

"I hard you say to massa, dat ef dey goes to war, 'twill free all de niggers—der you raily b'lieve dat, sar?"

"You heard me say that; how did you hear it?" I exclaimed, in surprise.

"Why, sar, de front winder ob de carriage war down jess a crack, so I hard all you said."

"Did you let it down on purpose?"

"P'r'aps so, massa. Whot's de use ob habin' ears, ef you don't har?"

"Well, I suppose not much; and you tell all you hear to the other negroes?"

"I reckon so, massa," said the darky, looking very demure.

"That's the use of having a tongue, eh?" I replied, laughing.

"Dat's it 'zactly, massa."

"Well, Jim, I do think the slaves will be finally freed; but it will cost more white blood to do it than all the niggers in creation are worth. Do you think the darkies would fight for their freedom?"

"Fight, sar!" exclaimed the negro, straightening up his fine form, while his usual good-natured look passed from his face, and gave way to an expression that made him seem more like an incarnate devil than a human being; "FIGHT, sar; gib dem de chance, and den see."

"Why are you discontented? You have been at the North, and you know the blacks are as well off as the majority of the poor laboring men there."

"You says dat to me, Massa K——; you don't say it to de Cunnel. We am not so well off as de pore man at de Norf! You knows dat, sar. He hab his wife and chil'ren, and his own home. What hab we, sar? No wife, no chil'ren, no home; all am de white man's. Der yer tink we wouldn't fight to be free?" and he pressed his teeth together, and there passed again over his face the same look it wore the moment before.

"Come, come, Jim, this may be true of your race; but it don't apply to yourself. Your master is kind and indulgent to you."

"He am kine to me, sar; he orter be," said the negro, the savage expression coming again into his eyes. For a moment he hesitated; then, taking a step toward me, he placed his face down to mine, and hissed out these words, every syllable seeming to come from the very bottom of his being. "I tell you he orter be, sar, FUR I AM HIS OWN FATHER'S SON!"

"His brother!" I exclaimed, springing to my feet, and looking at him in blank amazement. "It can't be true!"

"It am true, sar—as true as there's a hell! His father had my mother—when he got tired of her, he sold her Souf. I war too young den eben to know her!"

"This is horrible—too horrible!" I said.

"It am slavery, sar! Shouldn't we be contented?" replied the negro with a grim smile. Drawing, then, a large spring-knife from his pocket, he waved it above his head, and added: "Ef I had de hull white race dar—right dar under dat knife, don't yer tink I'd take all dar lives—all at one blow—to be FREE!"

"And yet you refused to run away when the Abolitionists tempted you, at the North. Why didn't you go then?"

"'Cause I had promised, massa."

"Promised the Colonel before you went?"

"No, sar; he neber axed me; but I can't tell you no more. P'raps Scipio will, ef you ax him."

"Oh! I see; you're in that league of which Scip is a leader. You'll get into trouble, sure," I replied, in a quick, decided tone, which startled him.

"You tole Scipio dat, sar, and what did he tell you?"

"That he didn't care for his life."

"No more do I, sar," said the negro, turning on his heel with a proud, almost defiant gesture, and starting to go.

"A moment, Jim. You are very imprudent; never say these things to any other mortal; promise me that."

"You'se bery good, massa, bery good. Scipio say you's true, and he'm allers right. I ortent to hab said what I hab; but sumhow, sar, dat news brought it all up har" (laying his hand on his breast), "and it wud come out."

The tears filled his eyes as he said this, and turning away without another word, he disappeared among the trees.

I was almost stunned by this strange revelation, but the more I reflected on it, the more probable it appeared. Now too, that my thoughts were turned in that direction, I called to mind a certain resemblance between the colonel and the negro that I had not heeded before. Though one was a high-bred Southern gentleman, claiming an old and proud descent, and the other a poor African slave, they had some striking peculiarities which might indicate a common origin. The likeness was not in their features, for Jim's face was of the unmistakable negro type, and his skin of a hue so dark that it seemed impossible he could be the son of a white man (I afterward learned that his mother was a black of the deepest dye), but it was in their form and general bearing. They had the same closely-knit and sinewy frame, the same erect, elastic step, the same rare blending of good-natured ease and dignity—to which I have already alluded as characteristic of the Colonel—and in the wild burst of passion that accompanied the negro's disclosure of their relationship, I saw the same fierce, unbridled temper, whose outbreaks I had witnessed in my host.

What a strange fate was theirs! Two brothers—the one the owner of three hundred slaves, and the first man of his district—the other, a bonded menial, and so poor that the very bread he ate, and the clothes he wore, were another's!

I passed the remainder of the afternoon in my room, and did not again meet my host until the family assembled at the tea-table. Jim then occupied his accustomed seat behind the Colonel's chair, and that gentleman was in more than his usual spirits, though Madam P——, I thought, wore a sad and absent look.

The conversation rambled over a wide range of subjects, and was carried on mainly by the Colonel and myself; but toward the close of the meal the lady said to me:

"Mr. K——, Sam and young Junius are to be buried this evening; if you have never seen a negro funeral, perhaps you'd like to attend."

"I will be happy to accompany you, Madam, if you go," I replied,

"Thank you," said the lady.

"Pshaw! Alice, you'll not go into the woods on so cold a night as this!" said the Colonel.

"Yes, I think I ought to. Our people will expect me."



CHAPTER X.

THE NEGRO FUNERAL.

It was about an hour after nightfall when we took our way to the burial-ground. The moon had risen, but the clouds which gathered when the sun went down, covered its face, and were fast spreading their thick, black shadows over the little collection of negro-houses. Near two new-made graves were gathered some two hundred men and women, as dark as the night that was setting around them. As we entered the circle the old preacher pointed to seats reserved for us, and the sable crowd fell back a few paces, as if, even in the presence of death, they did not forget the difference between their race and ours.

Scattered here and there among the trees, torches of lightwood threw a wild and fitful light over the little cluster of graves, revealing the long, straight boxes of rough pine that held the remains of the two negroes, and lighting up the score or two of russet mounds where slept the dusky kinsmen who had gone before them.

The simple head-boards that marked these humble graves chronicled no bad biography or senseless rhyme, and told no false tales of lives that might better not have been, but "SAM, AGE 22;" "JAKE'S ELIZA;" "AUNT SUE;" "AUNT LUCY'S TOM;" "JOE;" and other like inscriptions, scratched in rough characters on the unplaned boards, were all the records there. The rude tenants had passed away and "left no sign;" their birth, their age, their deeds, were alike unknown—unknown, but not forgotten! for are they not written in the book of His remembrance—and when he counteth up his jewels, may not some of them be there?

The queer, grotesque dress, and sad, earnest looks of the black group; the red, fitful glare of the blazing pine, and the white faces of the tapped trees, gleaming through the gloom like so many sheeted ghosts gathered to some death-carnival, made up a strange, wild scene—the strangest and the wildest I had ever witnessed.

The covers of the rude coffins were not yet nailed down, and when we arrived, the blacks were, one by one, taking a last look at the faces of the dead. Soon, Junius, holding his weeping wife by the hand, approached the smaller of the two boxes, which held all that was left of their first-born. The mother, kneeling by its side, kissed again and again the cold, shrunken lips, and sobbed as if her heart would break; and the strong frame of the father shook convulsively, as he choked down the great sorrow which welled up in his throat, and turned away from his boy forever. As he did so, old Pompey said:

"Don't grebe, June, he'm whar de wicked cease from trubling, whar de weary am at rest."

"I knows it; I knows it, Uncle. I knows de Lord am bery good to take 'im 'way; but why did he take de young chile, and leab de ole man har?"

"De little sapling dat grow in de shade may die while it'm young; de great tree dat grow in de sun must lib till he'm rotted down."

These words were the one drop wanting to make the great grief which was swelling in the negro's heart overflow. Giving one low, wild cry, he folded his wife in his arms, and burst into a paroxysm of tears.

"Come now, my chil'ren," said the old preacher, kneeling down, "let us pray."

The whole assemblage then knelt on the cold ground, while the old man prayed, and a more sincere, heart-touching prayer never went up from human lips to that God "who hath made of one blood all nations that dwell on the face of the earth." Though clothed in rags, and in feeble age at the mercy of a cruel taskmaster, that old slave was richer far than his master. His simple faith, which saw through the darkness around him into the clear and radiant light of the unseen day, was of far more worth than all the wealth and glory of this world. I know not why it was, but as I looked at him in the dim red light, which fell on his bent form and cast a strange halo around his upturned face, I thought of Stephen, as he gazed upward and behold heaven open, and "the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the throne of God."

Rising from his knees, the old preacher turned slowly to the black mass that encircled him, and said:

"My dear brederin and sisters, de Lord say dat 'de dust shill return to de earth as it war, and de spirit to Him who gabe it,' and now, 'cordin' to dat text, my friends, we'm gwine to put dis dust (pointing to the two coffins) in de groun' whar it cum from, and whar it shill lay till de bressed Lord blow de great trumpet on de resumrection mornin'. De spirits of our brudders har de Lord hub already took to hisseff. 'Our brudders,' I say, my chil'ren, 'case ebery one dat de Lord hab made am brudders to you and to me, whedder dey'm bad or good, white or brack.

"Dis young chile, who hab gone 'way and leff his pore fader and mudder suffrin' all ober wid grief, he hab gone to de Lord, shore. He neber done no wrong; he allers 'bey'd his massa, and neber said no hard word, nor found no fault, not eben w'en de cruel, bad oberseer put de load so heaby on him dat it kill him. Yes, my brederin and sisters, he hab gone to de Lord; gone whar dey don't work in de swamps; whar de little chil'ren don't tote de big shingles fru de water up to dar knees. No swamps am dar; no shingles am dar; dey doan't need 'em, 'case dar de hous'n haint builded wid hands, for dey'm all builded by de Lord, and gib'n to de good niggers, ready-made, and for nuffin'. De Lord don't say, like as ded massa say, 'Pomp, dar's de logs and de shingles' (dey'm allers pore shingles, de kine dat woant sell; but massa say, 'dey'm good 'nuff for niggers,' ef de roof do leak). De Lord doan't say: 'Now, Pomp, you go to work and build you' own house; but mine dat you does you, task all de time, jess de same!' But de Lord—de bressed Lord—He say, w'en we goes up dar, 'Dar, Pomp, dar's de house dat I'se been a buildin' for you eber sence 'de foundation ob de worle.' It'm done now, and you kin cum in; your room am jess ready, and ole Sal and de chil'ren dat I tuk 'way from you eber so long ago, and dat you mourned ober and cried ober as ef you'd neber see dem agin, dey'm dar too, all on 'em, a waitin' for you. Dey'm been fixin' up de house 'spressly for you all dese long years, and dey'b got it all nice and comfible now.' Yas, my friends, glory be to Him, dat's what our Heabenly massa say, and who ob you wouldn't hab sich a massa as dat? A massa dat doan't set you no hard tasks, and dat gibs you 'nuff to eat, and time to rest and to sing and to play! A massa dat doan't keep no Yankee oberseer to foller you 'bout wid de big free-lashed whip; but dat leads you hisseff to de green pastures and de still waters; and w'en you'm a-faint and a-tired, and can't go no furder, dat takes you up in his arms, and carries you in his bosom! What pore darky am dar dat wudn't hab sich a massa? What one ob us, eben ef he had to work jess so hard as we works now, wudn't tink heseff de happiest nigger in de hull worle, ef he could hab sich hous'n to lib in as dem? dem hous'n 'not made wid hands, eternal in de heabens!'

"But glory, glory to de Lord! my chil'ren, wese all got dat massa, ef we only knowd it, and He'm buildin' dem hous'n up dar, now, for ebery one ob us dat am tryin' to be good and to lub one anoder. For ebery one ob us, I say, and we kin all git de fine hous'n ef we try.

"Recolember, too, my brudders, dat our great Massa am rich, bery rich, and he kin do all he promise. He doant say, w'en wese worked ober time to git some little ting to comfort de sick chile, 'I knows, Pomp, you'se done de work, an' I did 'gree to gib you de pay; but de fact am, Pomp, de frost hab come so sudden dis yar, dat I'se loss de hull ob de sebenfh dippin', and I'se pore, so pore, de chile muss go widout dis time.' No, no, brudders, de bressed Lord He neber talk so. He neber break, 'case de sebenfh dip am shet off, or 'case de price of turpentime gwo down at de Norf. He neber sell his niggers down Souf, 'case he lose his money on he hoss-race. No, my chil'ren, our HEABENLY Massa am rich, RICH, I say. He own all dis worle, and all de oder worles dat am shinin' up dar in de sky. He own dem all; but he tink more ob one ob you, more ob one ob you—pore, ign'rant brack folks dat you am—dan ob all dem great worles! Who wouldn't belong to sich a Massa as dat? Who wouldn't be his nigger—not his slave—He doant hab no slaves—but his chile; and 'ef his chile, den his heir, de heir ob God, and de jined heir wid de bressed Jesus.' O my chil'ren! tink of dat! de heir ob de Lord ob all de 'arth and all de sky! What white man kin be more'n dat?

"Don't none ob you say you'm too wicked to be His chile; 'ca'se you haint. He lubs de wicked ones de best, 'ca'se dey need his lub de most. Yas, my brudders, eben de wickedest, ef dey's only sorry, and turn roun' and leab off dar bad ways, he lub de bery best ob all, 'ca'se he'm all lub and pity.

"Sam, har, my chil'ren, war wicked, but don't we pity him; don't we tink he hab a hard time, and don't we tink de bad oberseer, who'm layin' dar in de house jess ready to gwo and answer for it—don't we tink he gabe Sam bery great probincation?

"Dat's so," said a dozen of the auditors.

"Den don't you 'spose dat de bressed Lord know all dat, and dat He pity Sam too. If we pore sinners feel sorrer for him, haint de Lord's heart bigger'n our'n, and haint he more sorrer for him? Don't you tink dat ef He lub and pity de bery worse whites, dat He lub and pity pore Sam, who warn't so bery bad, arter all? Don't you tink He'll gib Sam a house? P'r'aps' 'twont be one ob de fine hous'n, but wont it be a comfible house, dat hain't no cracks, and one dat'll keep out de wind and de rain? And don't you s'pose, my chil'ren, dat it'll be big 'nuff for Jule, too—dat pore, repentin' chile, whose heart am clean broke, 'ca'se she hab broughten dis on Sam—and won't de Lord—de good Lord—de tender-hearted Lord—won't He touch Sam's heart, and coax him to forgib Jule, and to take her inter his house up dar? I knows he will, my chil'ren. I knows——"

The old negro paused abruptly; there was a quick swaying in the black crowd—a hasty rush—a wild cry—and Sam's wife burst into the open space around the preacher, and fell at his feet. Throwing her arms wildly about him, she shrieked out:

"Say dat agin, Uncle Pomp! for de lub ob de good Lord, oh! say dat agin!"

Bending down, the old man raised her gently in his arms, and folding her there, as he would have folded a child, he said, in a voice thick with emotion:

"It am so, Juley. I knows dat Sam will forgib you, and take you wid him up dar."

Fastening her arms frantically around Pompey's neck, the poor woman burst into a paroxysm of grief, while the old man's tears fell in great drops on her upturned face, and many a dark cheek was wet, as with rain.

The scene had lasted a few minutes, and I was turning away to hide the emotion that fast filled my eyes, and was creeping up, with a choking feeling, to my throat, when the Colonel, from the farther edge of the group, called out:

"Take that d—— d—— away—take her away, Pomp!"

The old negro turned toward his master with a sad, grieved look, but gave no heed to the words.

"Take her away, some of you, I say," again cried the Colonel. "Pomp, you mustn't keep these niggers all night in the cold."

At the sound of her master's voice the metif woman fell to the ground as if struck by a Minie-ball. Soon several negroes lifted her up to bear her off; but she struggled violently, and rent the woods with her wild cries for "one more look at Sam."

"Look at him, you d—— d——; then go, and don't let me see you again."

She threw herself on the face of the dead, and covered the cold lips with her kisses; then she rose, and with a weak, uncertain step, staggered out into the darkness.

Was not the system which had so seared and hardened that man's heart, begotten in the lowest hell?

The old preacher said no more, but four stout negro men stepped forward, nailed down the lids, and lowered the rough boxes into the ground. Turning to Madam P——, I saw her face was red with weeping. She turned to go as the first earth fell, with a dull, heavy sound, on the rude coffins; and giving her my arm, I led her from the scene.

As we walked slowly back to the house, a low wail—half a chant, half a dirge—rose from the black crowd, and floated off on the still night air, till it died away amid the far woods, in a strange, unearthly moan. With that sad, wild music in our ears, we entered the mansion.

As we seated ourselves by the bright wood-fire on the library hearth, obeying a sudden impulse which I could not restrain, I said to Madam P——:

"The Colonel's treatment of that poor woman is inexplicable to me. Why is he so hard with her? It is not in keeping with what I have seen of his character."

"The Colonel is a peculiar man," replied the lady. "Noble, generous, and a true friend, he is also a bitter, implacable enemy. When he once conceives a dislike, his feelings become even vindictive. Never having had an ungratified wish, he does not know how to feel for the sorrows of those beneath him. Sam, though a proud, headstrong, unruly character, was a great favorite with him; he felt his death much; and as he attributes it to Jule, he feels terribly bitter toward her. She will have to be sold to get her out of his way, for he will never forgive her."

It was some time before the Colonel joined us, and when at last he made his appearance, he seemed in no mood for conversation. The lady soon retired; but feeling unlike sleep, I took down a book from the shelves, drew my chair near the fire, and fell to reading. The Colonel, too, was deep in the newspapers, till, after a while, Jim entered the room:

"I'se cum to ax ef you've nuffin more to-night, Cunnel?" said the negro.

"No, nothing, Jim," replied his master; "but, stay—hadn't you better sleep in front of Moye's door?"

"Dunno, sar; jess as you say."

"I think you'd better," returned the Colonel.

"Yas, massa," and the darky left the apartment.

The Colonel shortly rose, and bade me "good-night." I continued reading till the clock struck eleven, when I laid the book aside and went to my room.

I lodged, as I have said before, on the first floor, and was obliged to pass by the overseer's apartment in going to mine. Wrapped in his blanket, and stretched at full length on the ground, Jim lay there, fast asleep. I passed on, thinking of the wisdom of placing a tired negro on guard over an acute and desperate Yankee.

I rose in the morning with the sun, and had partly donned my clothing, when I heard a loud uproar in the hall. Opening my door, I saw Jim pounding vehemently at the Colonel's room, and looking as pale as is possible with a person of his complexion.

"What the d—l is the matter?" asked his master, who now, partly dressed, stepped into the hall.

"Moye hab gone, sar—he'm gone and took Firefly (my host's five-thousand-dollar thorough-bred) wid him."

For a moment the Colonel stood stupified; then, his face turning to a cold, clayey white, he seized the black by the throat, and hurled him to the floor. With his thick boot raised, he seemed about to dash out the man's brains with its ironed heel, when, on the instant, the octoroon woman rushed, in her night-clothes, from his room, and, with desperate energy, pushed him aside, exclaiming: "What would you do? Remember WHO HE IS!"

The negro rose, and the Colonel, without a word, passed into his own apartment.



CHAPTER XI.

THE PURSUIT.

I sauntered out, after the events recorded in the last chapter, to inhale the fresh air of the morning. A slight rain had fallen during the night, and it still moistened the dead leaves which carpeted the woods, making an extended walk out of the question; so, seating myself on the trunk of a fallen tree, in the vicinity of the house, I awaited the hour for breakfast. I had not remained there long before I heard the voices of my host and Madam P—— on the front piazza:

"I tell you, Alice, I cannot—must not do it. If I overlook this, the discipline of the plantation is at an end."

"Do what you please with him when you return," replied the lady, "but do not chain him up, and leave me, at such a time, alone. You know Jim is the only one I can depend on."

"Well, have your own way. You know, my darling, I would not cause you a moment's uneasiness, but I must follow up this d——d Moye."

I was seated where I could hear, though I could not see the speakers, but it was evident from the tone of the last remark, that an action accompanied it quite as tender as the words. Being unwilling to overhear more of a private conversation, I rose and approached them.

"Ah! my dear fellow," said the Colonel, on perceiving me, "are you stirring so early? I was about to send to your room to ask if you'll go with me up the country. My d——d overseer has got away, and I must follow him at once."

"I'll go with pleasure," I replied. "Which way do you think Moye has gone?"

"The shortest cut to the railroad, probably; but old Caesar will track him."

A servant then announced breakfast—an early one having been prepared. We hurried through the meal with all speed, and the other preparations being soon over, were in twenty minutes in our saddles, and ready for the journey. The mulatto coachman, with a third horse, was at the door, ready to accompany us. As we mounted, the Colonel said to him:

"Go and call Sam, the driver."

The darky soon returned with the heavy, ugly-visaged black who had been whipped, by Madam P——'s order, the day before.

"Sam," said his master, "I shall be gone some days, and I leave the field-work in your hands. Let me have a good account of you when I return."

"Yas, massa, you shill dat," replied the negro.

"Put Jule—Sam's Jule—into the woods, and see that she does full tasks," continued the Colonel.

"Haint she wanted 'mong de nusses, massa?"

"Put some one else there—give her field-work; she needs it."

On large plantations the young children of the field-women are left with them only at night, and are herded together during the day, in a separate cabin, in charge of nurses. These nurses are feeble, sickly women, or recent mothers; and the fact of Jule's being employed in that capacity was evidence that she was unfit for outdoor labor.

Madam P——, who was waiting on the piazza to see us off, seemed about to remonstrate against this arrangement, but she hesitated a moment, and in that moment we had bidden her "Good-bye," and galloped away.

We were soon at the cabin of the negro-hunter, and the coachman, dismounting, called him out.

"Hurry up, hurry up," said the Colonel, as Sandy appeared, "we haven't a moment to spare."

"Jest so—jest so, Cunnel; I'll jine ye in a jiffin," replied he of the reddish extremities.

Emerging from the shanty with provoking deliberation—the impatience of my host had infected me—the clay-eater slowly proceeded to mount the horse of the negro, while his dirt-bedraggled wife, and clay-encrusted children, followed close at his heels, the younger ones huddling around for the tokens of paternal affection usual at parting. Whether it was the noise they made, or their frightful aspect, I know not, but the horse, a spirited animal, took fright on their appearance, and nearly broke away from the negro, who was holding him. Seeing this, the Colonel said:

"Clear out, you young scare-crows. Into the house with you."

"They arn't no more scare-crows than yourn, Cunnel J——," said the mother, in a decidedly belligerent tone. "You may 'buse my old man—he kin stand it—but ye shan't blackguard my young 'uns!"

The Colonel laughed, and was about to make a good-natured reply, when Sandy yelled out:

"Gwo enter the house and shet up, ye—— ——."

With this affectionate farewell, he turned his horse and led the way up the road.

The dog, who was a short distance in advance, soon gave a piercing howl, and started off at the speed of a reindeer. He had struck the trail, and urging our horses to their fastest speed, we followed.

We were all well mounted, but the mare the Colonel had given me was a magnificent animal, as fleet as the wind, and with a gait so easy that her back seemed a rocking-chair. Saddle-horses at the South are trained to the gallop—Southern riders not deeming it necessary that one's breakfast should be churned into a Dutch cheese by a trotting nag, in order that he may pass for a horseman.

We had ridden on at a perfect break-neck pace for half an hour, when the Colonel shouted to our companion:

"Sandy, call the dog in; the horses wont last ten miles at this gait—we've a long ride before us."

The dirt-eater did as he was bidden, and we soon settled into a gentle gallop.

We had passed through a dense forest of pines, but were emerging into a "bottom country," where some of the finest deciduous trees—then brown and leafless, but bearing promise of the opening beauty of spring—reared, along with the unfading evergreen, their tall stems in the air. The live-oak, the sycamore, the Spanish mulberry, the holly, and the persimmon—gaily festooned with wreaths of the white and yellow jessamine, the woodbine and the cypress-moss, and bearing here and there a bouquet of the mistletoe, with its deep green and glossy leaves upturned to the sun—flung their broad arms over the road, forming an archway grander and more beautiful than any the hand of man ever wove for the greatest hero the world has worshipped.

The woods were free from underbrush, and a coarse, wiry grass, unfit for fodder, and scattered through them in detached patches, was the only vegetation visible. The ground was mainly covered with the leaves and burrs of the pine.

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