"That is the trouble with the Abolitionists," said Colonel Watson. "They can't let well alone, and so Mr. Kent and his party want to reorganize the Southern country."
"There is no well there to let alone," said Mr. Kent, with the air of a Solomon.
"Don't talk so, Mr. Kent," said Mrs. Moore, entreatingly, "for I can't quarrel with you in my own house, and I feel very much inclined to do so for that one sentence."
"Now," said the bachelor captain, "I do long to hear you and Mr. Kent discuss Abolition. The colonel and I may be considered disinterested listeners, as we hail from the Middle States, and are not politicians. Captain Moore cannot interfere, as he is host as well as husband; and Mr. Jones and Scott have eaten too much to feel much interest in any thing just now. Pray, tell Mr. Kent, my dear madam, of Susan's getting you to intercede with her mistress to take her back, and see what he says."
"I know it already," said Mr. Kent, "and I must say that I am surprised to find Mrs. Moore inducing a fellow-creature to return to a condition so dreadful as that of a Southern slave. After having been plucked from the fire, it should be painful to the human mind to see her thrown in again."
"Your simile is not a good one, Mr. Kent," said Mrs. Moore, with a heightened color. "I can make a better. Susan, in a moment of delirium, jumped into the fire, and she called on me to pull her out. Unfortunately, I cannot heal all the burns, for I yesterday received an answer to my letter to her mistress, who positively refuses to take her back. She is willing, but Mr. Casey will not consent to it. He says that his wife was made very sick by the shock of losing Susan, and the over-exertion necessary in the care of her child. The baby died in Boston; and they cannot overlook Susan's deserting it at a hotel, without any one to take charge of it; they placing such perfect confidence in Susan, too. He thinks her presence would constantly recall to Mrs. Casey her child's death; besides, after having lived among Abolitionists, he fancies it would not be prudent to bring her on the plantation. Having attained her freedom, he says she must make the best of it. Mrs. Casey enclosed me ten dollars to give to Susan, for I wrote her she was in bad health, and had very little clothing when she came to me. Poor girl! I could hardly persuade her to take the money, and soon after, she brought it to me and asked me to keep it for her, and not to change the note that came from home. I felt very sorry for her."
"She deserves it," said Mr. Kent.
"I think she does," said Mrs. Moore, smiling, "though for another reason."
Mr. Kent blushed as only men with light hair, and light skin, and light eyes, can blush.
"I mean," said Mr. Kent, furiously, "she deserves her refusal for her ingratitude. After God provided her friends who made her a free woman, she is so senseless as to want to go back to be lashed and trodden under foot again, as the slaves of the South are. I say, she deserves it for being such a fool."
"And I say," said Mrs. Moore, "she deserves it for deserting her kind mistress at a time when she most needed her services. God did not raise her up friends because she had done wrong."
"You are right, Emmy, in your views of Susan's conduct; but you should be careful how you trace motives to such a source. She certainly did wrong, and she has suffered; that is all we can say. We must do the best we can to restore her to health. She is very happy with us now, and will, no doubt, after a while, enjoy her liberty: it would be a most unnatural thing if she did not."
"But how is it, Mr. Kent," said the colonel, "that after you induce these poor devils to give up their homes, that you do not start them in life; set them going in some way in the new world to which you transfer them. You do not give them a copper, I am told."
"We don't calculate to do that," said Mr. Kent.
"I believe you," said Mrs. Moore, maliciously.
Mr. Kent looked indignant at the interruption, while his discomfiture was very amusing to the young officers, they being devoted admirers of Mrs. Moore's talents and mince pies. They laughed heartily; and Mr. Kent looked at them as if nothing would have induced him to overlook their impertinence but the fact, that they were very low on the list of lieutenants, and he was an abolition agent. "We calculate, sir, to give them their freedom, and then let them look out for themselves."
"That is, you have no objection to their living in the same world with yourself, provided it costs you nothing," said the colonel.
"We make them free," said Mr. Kent. "They have their right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. They are no longer enslaved, body and soul. If I see a man with his hands and feet chained, and I break those chains, it is all that God expects me to do; let him earn his own living."
"But suppose he does not know how to do so," said Mrs. Moore, "what then? The occupations of a negro at the South are so different from those of the people at the North."
"Thank God they are, ma'am," said Mr. Kent, grandly. "We have no overseers to draw the blood of their fellow creatures, and masters to look on and laugh. We do not snatch infants from their mothers' breasts, and sell them for whisky."
"Neither do we," said Mrs. Moore, her bosom heaving with emotion; "no one but an Abolitionist could have had such a wicked thought. No wonder that men who glory in breaking the laws of their country should make such misstatements."
"Madam," said Mr. Kent, "they are facts; we can prove them; and we say that the slaves of the South shall be free, cost what it will. The men of the North have set out to emancipate them, and they will do it if they have to wade through fire, water, and blood."
"You had better not talk in that style when you go South," said Captain Moore, "unless you have an unconquerable prejudice in favor of tar and feathers."
"Who cares for tar and feathers?" said Mr. Kent; "there has been already a martyr in the ranks of Abolition, and there may be more. Lovejoy died a glorious martyr's death, and there are others ready to do the same."
"Give me my cane, there, captain, if you please," said Colonel Watson, who had been looking at Mr. Kent's blazing countenance and projecting eyes, in utter amazement. "Why, Buena Vista was nothing to this. Good night, madam, and do tell Susan not to jump into the fire again; I wonder she was not burned up while she was there. Come, captain, let us make our escape while we can."
The captain followed, bidding the whole party good night, with a smile. He had been perfectly charmed with the Abolition discussion. Mr. Jones had got very sleepy, and he and Mr. Scott made their adieu. Mr. Kent, with some embarrassment, bade Mrs. Moore good night. Mrs. Moore begged him to go South and be converted, for she believed his whole heart required changing. Captain Moore followed them to the door, and shivered as he inhaled the north-easter. "Come, Emmy," said he, as he entered, rubbing his hands, "you've fought for your country this night; let's go to bed."
Mrs. Moore lit a candle, and put out the lard-lamp, wondering if she had been impolite to Mr. Kent. She led the way to the staircase, in a reflective state of mind; Neptune followed, and stood at the foot of the steps for some moments, in deep thought; concluding that if there should be danger of any one's falling into a river up there, they would call him and let him know, he went back, laid down on the soft rug, and fell asleep for the night.
* * * * *
It does not take long to state a fact. Mr. Kent went to Washington on Abolition business,—through the introduction of a senator from his own State he obtained access to good society. He boarded in the same house with a Virginian who had a pretty face, very little sense, but a large fortune. Mr. Kent, with very little difficulty, persuaded her he was a saint, ready to be translated at the shortest notice. He dropped his Abolition notions, and they were married. At the time that my story opens, he is a planter, living near Mr. Weston, and we will hear of him again.
Arthur Weston is in his college-room in that far-famed city, New Haven. He is in the act of replacing his cigar in his mouth, after having knocked the ashes off it, when we introduce to him the reader. Though not well employed, his first appearance must be prepossessing; he inherited his mother's clear brunette complexion, and her fine expressive eyes. His very black hair he had thrown entirely off his forehead, and he is now reading an Abolition paper which had fallen into his hands. There are two other young men in the room, one of them Arthur's friend, Abel Johnson; and the other, a young man by the name of Hubbard.
"Who brought this paper into my room?" said Arthur, after laying it down on the table beside him.
"I was reading it," said Mr. Hubbard, "and threw it aside."
"Well, if it makes no difference to you, Mr. Hubbard, I'd prefer not seeing any more of these publications about me. This number is a literary curiosity, and deserves to be preserved; but as I do not file papers at present, I will just return it, after expressing my thanks to you for affording me the means of obtaining valuable information about the Southern country."
"What is it about, Arthur," said Abel Johnson, "it is too hot to read this morning, so pray enlighten me?"
"Why, here," said Arthur, opening the paper again, "here is an advertisement, said to be copied from a Southern paper, in which, after describing a runaway slave, it says: 'I will give four hundred dollars for him alive, and the same sum for satisfactory proof that he has been killed.' Then the editor goes on to say, 'that when a planter loses a slave, he becomes so impatient at not capturing him, and is so angry at the loss, that he then does what is equivalent to inducing some person to murder him by way of revenge.' Now, is not this infamous?"
"But it is true, I believe," said Mr. Hubbard.
"It is not true, sir," said Arthur, "it is false, totally and entirely false. Why, sir, do you mean to say, that the life of a slave is in the power of a master, and that he is not under the protection of our laws?"
"I am told that is the case," said Mr. Hubbard.
"Then you are told what is not true; and it seems to me, you are remarkably ignorant of the laws of your country."
"It is not my country," said Mr. Hubbard, "I assure you. I lay no claims to that part of the United States where slavery is allowed."
"Then if it is not your country, for what reason do you concern yourself so much about its affairs?"
"Because," replied Mr. Hubbard, "every individual has the right to judge for himself, of his own, and of other countries."
"No, not without proper information," said Arthur. "And as you have now graduated and intend to be a lawyer, I trust you will have consideration enough for the profession, not to advance opinions until you are sufficiently informed to enable you to do so justly. Every country must have its poor people; you have yours at the North, for I see them—we have ours; yours are white, ours are black. I say yours are white; I should except your free blacks, who are the most miserable class of human beings I ever saw. They are indolent, reckless, and impertinent. The poorer classes of society, are proverbially improvident—and yours, in sickness, and in old age, are often victims of want and suffering. Ours in such circumstances, are kindly cared for, and are never considered a burden; our laws are, generally speaking, humane and faithfully administered. We have enactments which not only protect their lives, but which compel their owners to be moderate in working them, and to ensure them proper care as regards their food."
"But," said Mr. Hubbard, "you have other laws, police-laws, which deprive them of the most innocent recreations, such as are not only necessary for their happiness, but also for their health."
"And if such laws do exist," said Arthur, "where is the cause? You may trace it to the interference of meddling, and unprincipled men. They excite the minds of the slaves, and render these laws necessary for the very protection of our lives. But without this interference, there would be no such necessity. In this Walsh's Appeal, which is now open before me, you will find, where Abel left off reading, these remarks, which show that not only the health and comfort of the slaves, but also their feelings, are greatly considered. 'The master who would deprive his negro of his property—the product of his poultry-house or his little garden; who would force him to work on holidays, or at night; who would deny him common recreations, or leave him without shelter and provision, in his old age, would incur the aversion of the community, and raise obstacles to the advancement of his own interest and external aims.'"
"Then," said Mr. Hubbard, "you mean to say, he is kind from self-interest alone."
"No, I do not," replied Arthur; "that undoubtedly, actuates men at the South, as it does men at the North; but I mean to say, so universal is it with us to see our slaves well treated, that when an instance of the contrary nature occurs, the author of it is subject to the dislike and odium of his acquaintances."
"But," said Mr. Hubbard, "that does not always protect the slaves—which shows that your laws are sometimes ineffectual. They are not always secure from ill-treatment."
"But, do your laws always secure you from ill-treatment?" said Arthur.
"Of course," said Mr. Hubbard, "the poorest person in New England is as safe from injustice and oppression, as the highest in the land."
"Nonsense," said Arthur, "don't you think I can judge for myself, as regards that? Abel, do tell Mr. Hubbard of our little adventure in the bakehouse."
"With pleasure," said Abel, "especially as you two have not let me say a word yet. Well, Mr. Hubbard, Arthur and I having nothing else to do, got hungry, and as it was a fine evening, thought we would walk out in search of something to satisfy our appetites, and there being a pretty girl in Brown's bakehouse, who waits on customers, we took that direction. Arthur, you know, is engaged to be married, and has no excuse for such things, but I having no such ties, am free to search for pretty faces, and to make the most of it when I find them. We walked on, arm-in-arm, and when we got to the shop, there stood Mrs. Brown behind the counter, big as all out doors, with a very red face, and in a violent perspiration; there was some thing wrong with the old lady 'twas easy to see."
"'Well, Mrs. Brown,' said Arthur, for I was looking in the glass cases and under the counter for the pretty face, 'have you any rusk?'
"'Yes, sir, we always have rusk,' said Mrs. Brown, tartly.
"'Will you give us some, and some cakes, or whatever you have? and then we will go and get some soda water, Abel.'
"Mrs. Brown fussed about like a 'bear with a sore head,' and at last she broke out against that gal.
"'Where on earth has she put that cake?' said she. 'I sent her in here with it an hour ago; just like her, lazy, good-for-nothing Irish thing. They're nothing but white niggers, after all, these Irish. Here, Ann,' she bawled out, 'come here!'
"'Coming,' said Ann, from within the glass door.
"'Come this minute,' said the old woman, and Ann's pretty Irish face showed itself immediately.
"'Where's that 'lection cake I told you to bring here?'
"'You didn't tell me to bring no cake here, Mrs. Brown,' said Ann.
"'I did, you little liar, you,' said Mrs. Brown. 'You Irish are born liars. Go, bring it here.'
"Ann disappeared, and soon returned, looking triumphant. 'Mr. Brown says he brought it in when you told him, and covered it in that box—so I aint such a liar, after all.'
"'You are,' said Mrs. Brown, 'and a thief too.'
"Ann's Irish blood was up.
"'I'm neither,' said she; 'but I'm an orphan, and poor; that's why I'm scolded and cuffed about.'
"Mrs. Brown's blood was up too, and she struck the poor girl in the face, and her big, hard hand was in an instant covered with blood, which spouted out from Ann's nose.
"'Now take that for your impudence, and you'll get worse next time you go disputing with me.'
"'I declare, Mrs. Brown,' said Arthur, 'this is, I thought, a free country. I did not know you could take the law into your own hands in that style.'
"'That gal's the bother of my life,' said Mrs. Brown. 'Mr. Brown, he was in New York when a ship come, and that gal's father and mother must die of the ship-fever, and the gal was left, and Mr. Brown calculated she could be made to save us hiring, by teaching her a little. She's smart enough, but she's the hard-headedest, obstinatest thing I ever see. I can't make nothin' of her. You might as well try to draw blood out of a turnip as to get any good out of her.'
"'You got some good blood out of her,' said I, 'at any rate,' for Mrs. Brown was wiping her hands, and the blood looked red and healthy enough; 'but she is not a turnip, that's one thing to be considered.'
"'Well, Mrs. Brown, good evening,' said Arthur. 'I shall tell them at the South how you Northern people treat your white niggers.'
"'I wish to the Lord,' said Mrs. Brown, 'we had some real niggers. Here I am sweatin, and workin, and bakin, all these hot days, and Brown he's doin nothin from morning 'till night but reading Abolition papers, and tendin Abolition meetings. I'm not much better than a nigger myself, half the time.'
"Now," said Arthur, "Mr. Hubbard, I have been fortunate in my experience. I have never seen a slave woman struck in my life, though I've no doubt such things are done; and I assure you when I saw Mrs. Brown run the risk of spoiling that pretty face for life, I wondered your laws did not protect 'these bound gals,' or 'white niggers,' as she calls them."
"You see, Hubbard," said Abel, "your philanthropy and Arthur's is very contracted. He only feels sympathy for a pretty white face, you for a black one, while my enlarged benevolence induces me to stand up for all female 'phizmahoganies,' especially for the Hottentot and the Madagascar ones, and the fair sex of all the undiscovered islands on the globe in general."
"You don't think, then," said Mr. Hubbard, argumentatively, "that God's curse is on slavery, do you?"
"In what sense?" asked Arthur. "I think that slavery is, and always was a curse, and that the Creator intended what he said, when he first spoke of it, through Noah."
"But, I mean," said Mr. Hubbard, "that it will bring a curse on those who own slaves."
"No, sir," said Arthur, "God's blessing is, and always has been on my father, who is a slaveholder; on his father, who was one; and on a good many more I could mention. In fact, I could bring forward quite a respectable list who have died in their beds, in spite of their egregious sin in this respect. There are Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Marshall, Calhoun, Henry Clay, and not a few others. In this case, the North, as has been said, says to her sister South, 'Stand aside, for I am holier than thou!' that is, you didn't need them, and got rid of them."
"We were all born free and equal," said Mr. Hubbard, impressively.
"Equal!" said Abel, "there is that idiot, with his tongue hanging out of his mouth, across the street: was he born equal with you?"
"It strikes me," said Arthur, "that our slaves are not born free."
"They ought to be so, then," said Mr. Hubbard.
"Ah! there you arraign the Creator," said Arthur; "I must stop now."
"What do you think is the meaning of the text 'Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren,' Hubbard?" said Abel.
"I don't think it justifies slavery," said Hubbard.
"Well, what does it mean?" said Abel. "It must mean something. Now I am at present between two doctrines; so I am neither on your nor on Arthur's side. If I can't live one way I must another; and these are hard times. If I can't distinguish myself in law, divinity, or physic, or as an artist, which I would prefer, I may turn planter, or may turn Abolition agent. I must do something for my living. Having no slaves I can't turn planter; therefore there is more probability of my talents finding their way to the Abolition ranks; so give me all the information you can on the subject."
"Go to the Bible," said Mr. Hubbard, "and learn your duty to your fellow-creatures."
"Well, here is a Bible my mother sent here for Arthur and myself, with the commentaries. This is Scott's Commentary. Where is Canaan?" said he, turning over the leaves; "he is very hard to be got at."
"You are too far over," said Arthur, laughing, "you are not in the habit of referring to Scott."
"Here it is," said Abel, "'Cursed be Canaan, a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.' And in another verse we see 'God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem, and Canaan shall be his servant.' So we are Japheth and Shem, and the colored population are Canaan. Is that it, Arthur?" said Abel.
"See what Scott says, Abel," said Arthur; "I'm not a commentator."
"Well, here it is,—'There is no authority for altering the text, and reading, as some do, Cursed be Ham, the father of Canaan, yet the frequent mention of Ham, as the father of Canaan, suggests the thought that the latter was also criminal. Ham is thought to be second, and not the youngest son of Noah; and if so, the words, 'Knew what his younger son had done,' refers to Canaan, his grandson. Ham must have felt it a very mortifying rebuke, when his own father was inspired on this occasion to predict the durable oppression and slavery of his posterity. Canaan was also rebuked, by learning that the curse would especially rest on that branch of the family which should descend from him; for his posterity were no doubt principally, though not exclusively, intended.'"
"Now," continued Abel, "I shall have to turn planter, and get my niggers as I can; for I'll be hanged if it wasn't a curse, and a predicted one, too."
"That does not make it right," said Mr. Hubbard.
"Don't it," said Abel; "well, if it should be fated for me to turn parson, I shan't study divinity with you, for my mother has told me often, that God's prophecies were right, and were fulfilled, too; as I think this one has been."
"I suppose, then, you think slavery will always continue, Mr. Weston?" said Hubbard.
"Well, I am only a man, and cannot prophesy, but I think, probably not. Slavery is decreasing throughout the world. The slave trade is about being abolished on the coast of Africa. You Abolitionists are getting a good many off from our southern country, and our planters are setting a number of theirs free, and sending them to Africa. I know a gentleman in Georgia who liberated a number, and gave them the means to start in Liberia as free agents and men. He told me he saw them on board, and watched the ship as she disappeared from his sight. At last he could not detect the smallest trace of her, and then such a feeling of intense satisfaction occupied his breast as had been a stranger there until that time. 'Is it possible that they are gone, and I am no longer to be plagued with them? They are free, and I am free, too.' He could hardly give vent to his feelings of relief on the occasion."
"And are they such trouble to you, Arthur?" asked Abel.
"No, indeed," said Arthur, "not the least. My father treats them well, and they appear to be as well off as the working classes generally are. I see rules to regulate the conduct of the master and slave in Scripture, but I see no where the injunction to release them; nor do I find laid down the sin of holding them. The fact is, you northern people are full of your isms; you must start a new one every year. I hope they will not travel south, for I am tired of them. I should like to take Deacon and Mrs. White back home with me. Our servants would be afraid of a man who has worked sixteen hours a day half his lifetime."
"Deacon White is worth twenty thousand dollars," said Abel, "every cent of which he made mending and making common shoes."
"What does he do with it?" said Arthur.
"Hoards it up," said Abel, "and yet an honester man never lived. Did I not tell you of the time I hired his horse and chaise? I believe not; well, it is worth waiting for. The deacon's old white horse is as gray and as docile as himself; the fact is, the stable is so near the house, that the horse is constantly under the influence of 'Old Hundred;' he has heard the good old tune so often, that he has a solemn way of viewing things. Two or three weeks ago I wanted to take my sister to see a relative of ours, who lives seven or eight miles from here, and my mother would not consent to my driving her, unless I hired the deacon's horse and chaise—the horse, she said, could not run if he wanted to. So I got him, and Harriet asked Kate Laune to go too, as the chaise was large enough for all three; and we had a good time. We were gone all day, and after I took the girls home, I drove round to the deacon's house and jumped out of the chaise to pay what I owed.
"You know what a little fellow the deacon is, and he looked particularly small that evening, for he was seated in his arm-chair reading a large newspaper which hid him all but his legs. These are so shrunken that I wonder how his wife gets his stockings small enough for him.
"'Good evening, Mrs. White,' said I, for the old lady was sitting on the steps knitting.
"'Mercy's sake, deacon,' said she, 'put down your newspaper; don't you see Mr. Johnson?'
"'The deacon did not even give me a nod until he had scrutinized the condition of the horse and chaise, and then he said, 'How are you?'
"'Not a screw loose in me, or the horse and chaise either, for I had two girls with me, and I'm courting one of them for a quarter, so I drove very carefully. I am in a hurry now, tell me what I am to pay you?'
"'Twelve and a half cents,' said the deacon, slowly raising his spectacles from his nose.
"'No!' said I. 'Twelve and a half cents! Why, I have had the horse all day.'
"'That is my price,' said the deacon.
"'For a horse and chaise, all day?' said I. 'Why, deacon, do charge me something that I aint ashamed to pay you.'
"'That is my regular price, and I can't charge you any more.'
"I remonstrated with him, and tried to persuade him to take twenty-five cents—but, no. I appealed to Mrs. White; she said the 'deacon hadn't ought to take more than the horse and chaise was worth.' However, I induced him to take eighteen and three-quarter cents, but he was uneasy about it, and said he was afraid he was imposing on me.
"The next morning I was awakened at day-dawn—there was a man, they said, who wanted to see me on pressing business, and could not wait. I dressed in a hurry, wondering what was the cause of the demand for college-students. I went down, and there stood the deacon, looking as if his last hour were come. 'Mr. Abel,' he said, 'I have passed a dreadful restless night, and I couldn't stand it after the day broke—here's your six and a quarter cents—I hadn't ought to have charged you more than my usual price.' I was angry at the old fellow for waking me up, but I could not help laughing, too."
"''Twas very ugly of you, Mr. Abel, to persuade me to take so much,' said he; 'you're welcome to the horse and chaise whenever you want it, but twelve and a half cents is my usual price.'"
"Now," said Mr. Hubbard, "he is like the Portuguese devils; when they are good, they are too good—I should distrust that man."
"He is close to a farthing," said Abel, "but he is as honest as the day. Why he has the reputation of a saint. Harriet says she wishes he wore a long-tailed coat instead of a short jacket, so that she could hang on and get to heaven that way."
"My sister saw Mrs. White not long ago, and complimented her on her new bonnet being so very becoming to her. 'Now I want to know!' said Mrs. White; 'why I thought it made me look like a fright.'
"'But what made you get a black one,' said Harriet, 'why did you not get a dark green or a brown one?'
"'Why, you see,' said Mrs. White, 'the deacon's health is a failin'; he's dreadful low in the top knots lately, and I thought as his time might come very soon, I might as well get a black one while I was a getting. We're all born to die, Miss Harriet; and the deacon is dwindlin' away.'"
The young men laughed, and Arthur said "What will he do with his money? Mrs. White will not wear the black bonnet long if she have twenty thousand dollars; she can buy a new bonnet and a new husband with that."
"No danger," said Abel, "Deacon White has made his will, and has left his wife the interest of five thousand dollars; at her death the principal goes, as all the rest, to aid some benevolent purpose.
"But there are the letters; what a bundle for you, Arthur! That is the penalty of being engaged. Well I must wait for the widow White, I guess she'll let me have the use of the horse and chaise, at any rate."
Mr. Hubbard arose to go, and Arthur handed him his newspaper. "That is a valuable document, sir, but there is one still more so in your library here; it is a paper published the same month and year of the Declaration of Independence, in which are advertised in the New England States negroes for sale! Your fathers did not think we were all born free and equal it appears."
"We have better views now-a-days, said Mr. Hubbard; the Rev. Mr. H. has just returned from a tour in the Southern States, and he is to lecture to-night, won't you go and hear him?"
"Thank you, no," said Arthur. "I have seen some of this reverend gentleman's statements, and his friends ought to advise him to drop the reverend for life. He is a fit subject for an asylum, for I can't think a man in his senses would lie so."
"He is considered a man of veracity," said Mr. Hubbard, "by those who have an opportunity of knowing his character."
"Well, I differ from them," said Arthur, "and shall deprive myself of the pleasure of hearing him. Good evening, sir."
"Wouldn't he be a good subject for tar and feathers, Arthur? They'd stick, like grim death to a dead nigger," said Abel.
"He is really such a fool," said Arthur, "that I have no patience with him; but you take your usual nap, and I will read my letters."
We will go back to the last evening at Exeter, when we left Mr. Weston to witness the result of Bacchus's attendance at the barbecue. There were other hearts busy in the quiet night time. Alice, resisting the offers of her maid to assist her in undressing, threw herself on a lounge by the open window. The night air played with the curtains, and lifted the curls from her brow. Her bloom, which of late had been changeful and delicate, had now left her cheek, and languid and depressed she abandoned herself to thought. So absorbed was she, that she was not aware any one had entered the room, until her mother stood near, gently reproving her for thus exposing herself to the night air. "Do get up and go to bed," she said. "Where is Martha?"
"I did not want her," said Alice; "and am now going to bed myself. What has brought you here?"
"Because I felt anxious about you," said Mrs. Weston, "and came, as I have often before, to be assured that you were well and enjoying repose. I find you still up; and now, my daughter, there is a question I have feared to ask you, but can no longer delay it. By all the love that is between us, by the tie that should bind an only child to a widowed mother, will you tell me what are the thoughts that are oppressing you? I have been anxious for your health, but is there not more cause to fear for your happiness?"
"I am well enough, dear mother," said Alice, with some irritation of manner, "Do not concern yourself about me. If you will go to bed, I will too."
"You cannot thus put me off," said Mrs. Weston. "Alice, I charge you, as in the presence of God, to tell me truly: do you love Walter Lee?"
"It would be strange if I did not," said Alice, in a low voice. "Have we not always been as brother and sister?"
"Not in that sense, Alice; do not thus evade me. Do you love him with an affection which should belong to your cousin, to whom you are solemnly engaged, who has been the companion of your childhood, and who is the son of the best friend that God ever raised up to a widow and a fatherless child?"
Alice turned her head away, and after a moment answered, "Yes, I do, mother, and I cannot help it." But on turning to look at her mother, she was shocked at the expression of agony displayed on her countenance. Her hand was pressed tightly over her heart, her lips quivered, and her whole person trembled. It was dreadful to see her thus agitated; and Alice, throwing her arms around her mother exclaimed, "What is it, dearest mother? Be not look so deathlike. I cannot bear to see you so."
Oh! they speak falsely who say the certainty of evil can be better borne than suspense. Watcher by the couch of suffering, sayest thou so? Now thou knowest there is no hope, thy darling must be given up. There is no mistaking that failing pulse, and that up-turned eye. A few hours ago, there was suspense, but there was hope; death was feared, but not expected; his arm was outstretched, but the blow was not descending; now, there is no hope.
Mrs. Weston had long feared that all was not well with Alice—that while her promise was given to one, her heart had wandered to another; yet she dreaded to meet the appalling certainty; now with her there is no hope. The keen anguish with which she contended was evident to her daughter, who was affrighted at her mother's appearance. So much so, that for the first time for months she entirely forgot the secret she had been hiding in her heart. The young in their first sorrow dream there are none like their own. It is not until time and many cares have bowed us to the earth, that we look around, beholding those who have suffered more deeply than ourselves.
Accustomed to self-control, Mrs. Weston was not long in recovering herself; taking her daughter's hand within her own, and looking up in her fair face, "Alice," she said, "you listened with an unusual interest to the details of suffering of one whom you never saw. I mean Walter Lee's mother; she died. I can tell you of one who has suffered, and lived.
"It is late, and I fear to detain you from your rest, but something impels me that I cannot resist. Listen, then, while I talk to you of myself. You are as yet almost unacquainted with your mother's history."
"Another time, mother; you are not well now," said Alice.
"Yes, my love, now. You were born in the same house that I was; yet your infancy only was passed where I lived until my marriage. I was motherless at an early age; indeed, one of the first remembrances that I recall is the bright and glowing summer evening when my mother was carried from our plantation on James River to the opposite shore, where was our family burial-ground. Can I ever forget my father's uncontrolled grief, and the sorrow of the servants, as they followed, dressed in the deepest mourning. I was terrified at the solemn and dark-looking bier, the black plumes that waved over it, and all the dread accompaniments of death. I remember but little for years after this, save the continued gloom of my father, and his constant affection and indulgence toward me, and occasionally varying our quiet life by a visit to Richmond or Washington.
"My father was a sincere and practical Christian. He was averse to parting with me; declaring, the only solace he had was in directing my education, and being assured of my happiness.
"My governess was an accomplished and amiable lady, but she was too kind and yielding. I have always retained the most grateful remembrance of her care. Thus, though surrounded by good influences, I needed restraint, where there was so much indulgence. I have sometimes ventured to excuse myself on the ground that I was not taught that most necessary of all lessons: the power of governing myself. The giving up of my own will to the matured judgment of others.
"The part of my life that I wish to bring before you now, is the year previous to my marriage. Never had I received an ungentle word from my father; never in all my waywardness and selfwill did he harshly reprove me. He steadily endeavored to impress on my mind a sense of the constant presence of God. He would often say, 'Every moment, every hour of our lives, places its impress on our condition in eternity. Live, then, as did your mother, in a state of waiting and preparation for that account which we must all surely give for the talents entrusted to our care.' Did I heed his advice? You will hardly believe me, Alice, when I tell you how I repaid his tenderness. I was the cause of his death."
"It could never be, mother," said Alice, weeping, when she saw the tears forcing their way down her mother's cheek. "You are excited and distressed now. Do not tell me any more to-night, and forget what I told you."
Mrs. Weston hardly seemed to hear her. After a pause of a few moments, she proceeded:
"It was so, indeed. I, his only child, was the cause of his death; I, his cherished and beloved daughter, committed an act that broke his heart, and laid the foundation of sorrows for me, that I fear will only end with my life.
"Alice, I read not long since of a son, the veriest wretch on earth; he was unwilling to grant his poor aged father a subsistence from his abundance; he embittered the failing years of his life by unkindness and reproaches. One day, after an altercation between them, the son seized his father by his thin, white hair, and dragged him to the corner of the street. Here, the father in trembling tones implored his pity. 'Stop, oh! stop, my son' he said, 'for I dragged my father here, God has punished me in your sin.'
"Alice, can you not see the hand of a just God in this retribution, and do you wonder, when you made this acknowledgment to me to-night, the agony of death overcame me? I thought, as I felt His hand laid heavily upon me, my punishment was greater than I could bear; my sin would be punished in your sorrow; and naught but sorrow would be your portion as the wife of Walter Lee.
"Do not interrupt me, it is time we were asleep, but I shall soon have finished what I have to say. My father and Mr. Weston were friends in early life, and I was thrown into frequent companionship with my husband, from the time when we were very young. His appearance, his talents, his unvaried gayety of disposition won my regard. For a time, the excess of dissipation in which he indulged was unknown to us, but on our return to Virginia after an absence of some months in England, it could no longer be concealed. His own father joined with mine in prohibiting all intercourse between us. For a time his family considered him as lost to them and to himself; he was utterly regardless of aught save what contributed to his own pleasures. I only mention this to excuse my father in your eyes, should you conclude he was too harsh in the course he insisted I should pursue. He forbade him the house, and refused to allow any correspondence between us; at the same time he promised that if he would perfectly reform from the life he was leading, at the end of two years he would permit the marriage. I promised in return to bind myself to these conditions. Will you believe it, that seated on my mother's grave, with my head upon my kind father's breast, I vowed, that as I hoped for Heaven I would never break my promise, never see him again, without my father's permission, until the expiration of this period; and yet I did break it. I have nearly done. I left home secretly. I was married; and I never saw my father's face again. The shock of my disobedience was too hard for him to bear. He died, and in vain have I sought a place of repentance, though I sought it with tears.
"I have suffered much; but though I cannot conceal from you that your father threw away the best portion of his life, his death was not without hope. I cling to the trust that his sins were washed away, and his soul made clean in the blood of the Saviour. Then, by the memory of all that I suffered, and of that father whose features you bear, whose dying words gave testimony to my faithfulness and affection to him, I conjure you to conquer this unfortunate passion, which, if yielded to, will end in your unceasing misery.
"There was little of my large fortune left at your father's death; we have been almost dependant on your uncle. Yet it has not been dependance; he is too generous to let us feel that. On your father's death-bed, he was all in all to him—never leaving him; inducing him to turn his thoughts to the future opening before him. He taught me where to look for comfort, and bore with me when in my impatient grief I refused to seek it. He took you, then almost an infant, to his heart, has cherished you as his own, and now looks forward to the happiness of seeing you his son's wife; will you so cruelly disappoint him?"
"I will do whatever you ask me, dear mother," said Alice. "I will never see Walter again, if that will content you. I have already told him that I can never be to him more than I have always been—a sister. Yet I cannot help loving him."
"Cannot help loving a man whose very birth is attended with shame," said Mrs. Weston; "whose passions are ungovernable, who has already treated with the basest ingratitude his kindest friends? Have you so little pride? I will not reproach you, my darling; promise me you will never see Walter again, after to-morrow, without my knowledge. I can trust you. Oh! give up forever the thought of being his wife, if ever you have entertained it. Time will show you the justice of my fears, and time will bring back your old feelings for Arthur, and we shall be happy again."
"I will make you the promise," said Alice, "and I will keep it; but I will not deceive Arthur. Ungrateful as I may appear, he shall know all. He will then love some one more worthy of him than I am."
"Let us leave the future in the hands of an unerring God, my Alice. Each one must bear her burden, I would gladly bear yours; but it may not be. Forget all this for a while; let me sleep by you to-night."
Alice could not but be soothed by the gentle tone, and dear caress. Oh, blessed tie! uniting mother and child. Earth cannot, and Heaven will not break it.
As absurd would it be for one of the small unsettled stars, for whose place and wanderings we care not, to usurp the track of the Queen of night or of the God of day, as for an unpretending writer to go over ground that has been trodden by the master minds of the age. It was in the olden time that Cooper described a dinner party in all its formal, but hospitable perfection. Washington was a guest there, too, though an unacknowledged one; we cannot introduce him at Exeter, yet I could bring forward there, more than one who knew him well, valuing him not only as a member of society and a hero, but as the man chosen by God for a great purpose. Besides, I would introduce to my readers, some of the residents of L——. I would let them into the very heart of Virginia life; and, although I cannot arrogate to it any claims for superiority over other conditions of society, among people of the same class in life, yet, at least, I will not allow an inferiority. As variety is the spice of society, I will show them, that here are many men of many minds.
Mark, was a famous waiter, almost equal to Bacchus, who was head man, on such occasions. They were in their elements at a dinner party, and the sideboard, and tables, on such an occasion, were in their holiday attire. A strong arm, a hard brush, and plenty of beeswax, banished all appearance of use, and the old servants thought that every article in the room looked as bright and handsome as on the occasion of their young mistress' first presiding at her table. The blinds of the windows looking south, were partly open; the branches of the lemon-tree, and the tendrils of the white-jessamine, assisted in shading the apartment, making it fragrant too. The bird-cages were hung among the branches of the flowers, and the little prisoners sang as if they had, at last, found a way of escape to their native woods; old-fashioned silver glittered on the sideboard, the large china punch-bowl maintaining its position in the centre.
William had gone to the drawing-room to announce the important intelligence, "Dinner is ready!" and Bacchus looked around the room for the last time, to see that every thing was, as it should be, snuffing up the rich fumes of the soup as it escaped from the sides of the silver-covered tureen. He perceived that one of the salt-cellars was rather near the corner of the table, and had only time to rearrange it, when William threw open the doors. The company entered, and with some delay and formality took their places. We need not wait until the Rev. Mr. Aldie says grace, though that would not detain us long; for the Rev. Mr. Aldie, besides being very hungry, has a great deal of tact, and believes in short prayers; nor will we delay to witness the breaking down of the strongholds of precision and ultra propriety, that almost always solemnizes the commencement of an entertainment; but the old Madeira having been passed around, we will listen to the conversation that is going on from different parts of the table.
"We have outlived, sir," said Mr. Chapman, addressing a northern gentleman present, "we have outlived the first and greatest era of our country. Its infancy was its greatest era. The spirit of Washington still breathes among us. One or two of us here have conversed with him, sat at his table, taken him by the hand. It is too soon for the great principles that animated his whole career to have passed from our memory. I am not a very old man, gentlemen and ladies, yet it seems to me a great while since the day of Washington's funeral. My father called me and my brothers to him, and while our mother was fastening a band of black crape around our hats, 'My boys,' said he, 'you have seen the best days of this republic.' It is so, for as much as the United States has increased in size, and power, and wealth, since then, different interests are dividing her."
"Was Washington a cheerful man?" asked an English gentleman who was present, "I have heard that he never laughed. Is it so?"
Miss Janet, who was considered a kind of oracle when personal memories of Washington were concerned, answered after a moment's pause, "I have seen him smile often, I never saw him laugh but once. He rode over, one afternoon, to see a relative with whom I was staying; it was a dark, cloudy day, in November; a brisk wood fire was very agreeable. After some little conversation on ordinary topics, the gentlemen discussed the politics of the times, Washington saying little, but listening attentively to others.
"The door opened suddenly, and a son of my relative entered, in a noisy bustling manner. Passing the gentlemen with a nod, he turned his back to the fire, putting his hands behind him. 'Father,' said he, scarcely waiting until the sentence that General Washington was uttering, was finished, 'what do you think? Uncle Jack and I shot a duck in the head!' He deserved a reproof for his forwardness; but Washington joined the rest in a laugh, no doubt amused at the estimation in which the youth held himself and Uncle Jack. The two together, killed a duck, and the boy was boasting of it in the presence of the greatest man the world ever produced. The poor fellow left the room, and for a time his sporting talents were joked about more than he liked."
After the ladies retired, Mr. Selden proposed the health of the amiable George Washington.
"Good heavens! sir," said Mr. Chapman, the veins in his temples swelling, and his whole frame glowing with vexation, "what is that you say? Did ever any one hear of a soldier being amiable? No, sir, I will give you a toast that was drank just before the death of the greatest and best of men. I picked up an old newspaper, and laid it aside in my secretary. In it I read a toast worth giving. Fill high, gentlemen—'The man who forgets the services of George Washington, may he be forgotten by his country and his God.'"
Mr. Selden, who possessed in a remarkable degree the amiableness that he had ascribed to another, swallowed the wine and approved the toast. Mr. Chapman was some time recovering his composure.
"You intend to leave Virginia very soon, Mr. Lee," said Mr. Kent, addressing Walter.
"Very soon, sir," Walter replied.
"Where shall you go first?" asked Mr. Kent.
"I have not decided on any course of travel," said Walter. "I shall, perhaps, wander toward Germany."
"We will drink your health, then," said Mr. Weston. "A pleasant tour, Walter, and a safe return."
* * * * *
"You are from Connecticut, I believe, Mr. Perkins?" said Mr. Barbour, "but as you are not an Abolitionist, I suppose it will not be uncourteous to discuss the subject before you. I have in my memorandum book a copy of a law of your State, which was in existence at one time, and which refers to what we have been conversing about. It supports the Fugitive Slave Law, in prospect. At that time you New Englanders held not only negro, but Indian slaves. Let me read this, gentleman. 'Be it enacted by the Governor, Council, and Representatives, in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, that whatsoever negro, mulatto, or Indian servant or servants, shall be wandering out of the bounds of the town or place to which they belong, without a ticket or pass, in writing, under the hand of some Assistant or Justice of the Peace, or under the hand of the master or owner of such negro, mulatto, or Indian servant or servants, shall be deemed and accounted as runaways, and may be treated as such. And every person inhabiting in this colony, finding or meeting with any such negro, mulatto, or Indian servant or servants not having a ticket as aforesaid, is hereby empowered to seize and secure him or them, and bring him or them before the next authority, to be examined and returned to his or their master or owner, who shall satisfy the charge accruing thereby.
"'And all ferrymen within the colony are hereby requested not to suffer any Indian, mulatto, or negro servant without certificate as aforesaid, to pass over their respective ferries by assisting them, directly or indirectly, on the penalty of paying a fine of twenty shillings for every such offence, to the owner of such servants.' In the same act," continued Mr. Barbour, "a free person who receives any property, large or small, from a slave, without an order from his master, must either make full restitution or be openly whipped with so many stripes, (not exceeding twenty.)"
"Now, gentlemen," said Mr. Chapman, who was an impetuous old gentleman, "don't you see those Yankees were close enough in taking care of their own slaves, and if they could have raised sugar and cotton, or had deemed it to their advantage to be slaveholders to this day, they'd have had a Fugitive Slave Law long before this. A Daniel would have come to judgment sooner even than the immortal Daniel Webster."
"Wait a moment, my dear sir," said Mr. Barbour. "Another paragraph of the same act provides, 'that if any negro, mulatto, or Indian servant or slave, shall be found abroad from home, in the night season, after nine o'clock, without a special order from his or their master or mistress, it shall be lawful for any person or persons to apprehend and secure such negro, mulatto, or Indian servant or slave, so offending, and him, her, or them, bring before the next assistant or justice of the peace, which authority shall have full power to pass sentence upon such servant or slave, and order him, her, or them, to be publicly whipped on the naked body, not exceeding ten stripes, &c.'"
"Pretty tight laws you had, sir," said Mr. Chapman, addressing Mr. Perkins. "A woman could be picked up and whipped, at the report of any body, on the naked body. Why, sir, if we had such laws here, it would be whipping all the time, (provided so infamous a law could be carried into execution.) There is one thing certain, you made the most of slavery while you had it."
"But we have repented of all our misdeeds," said Mr. Perkins, good-humouredly.
"Yes," said Mr. Chapman, "like the boy that stole a penny, and when he found it wouldn't buy the jack-knife he wanted, he repented, and carried it to the owner."
"But you must remember the times, my dear sir," said Mr. Perkins.
"I do, I do, sir," said Mr. Chapman. "The very time that you had come for freedom yourself, you kidnapped the noble sons of the soil, and made menials of them. I wonder the ground did not cry out against you. Now we have been left with the curse of slavery upon us, (for it is in some respects a curse on the negro and the white man,) and God may see fit to remove it from us. But why don't the Abolitionists buy our slaves, and send them to Liberia?"
"That would be against their principles," said Mr. Perkins.
"Excuse me, sir," said Mr. Chapman, "but d——n their principles; it is against their pockets. Why don't those who write Abolition books, give the profits to purchase some of these poor wretches who are whipped to death, and starved to death, and given to the flies to eat up, and burned alive; then I would believe in their principles, or at least in their sincerity. But now the fear is for their pockets. I am a poor man. I own a few slaves, and I will sell them to any Northern man or woman at half-price for what I could get from a trader, and they may send them to Liberia. Lord! sir, they'd as soon think of buying the d——l himself. You must excuse my strong language, but this subject irritates me. Not long ago, I was in the upper part of the State of New York, looking about me, for I do look about me wherever I am. One morning I got up early, and walked toward the new railroad that they were constructing in the neighborhood. I chanced to get to the spot just in time to see a little fracas between a stout, burly Irishman, and the superintendent of the party.
"'I thought, be Jasus,' said the Irishman, just as I approached near enough to hear what was going on, 'that a man could see himself righted in a free country.'
"'Go to your work,' said the superintendent, and if you say another word about it, I'll knock you over.'
"'Is it you'll knock me over, you will,' began the Irishman.
"He was over in a moment. The superintendent, sir, gave him a blow between the eyes, with a fist that was hard as iron. The man staggered, and fell. I helped him up, sir; and I reckon he thought matters might be worse still, for he slowly walked off.
"'D——d free country,' he muttered to me, in a kind of confidential tone. 'I thought they only knocked niggers over in Ameriky. Be me soul, but I'll go back to Ireland.'
"I could not help expressing my astonishment to the superintendent, repeating the Irishman's words, 'I thought only niggers could be knocked over in this country.'
"'Niggers!' said the superintendent, 'I guess if you had to deal with Irishmen, you'd find yourself obliged to knock 'em down.'
"'But don't the laws protect them?' I asked.
"'Laws! why railroads have to be made, and have to be made the right way. I aint afraid of the laws. I think no more of knocking an Irishman over, sir, than I do of eating my dinner. One is as necessary as the other.'
"Now," continued Mr. Chapman, "if an Abolitionist sees a slave knocked over, he runs home to tell his mammy; it's enough to bring fire and brimstone, and hail, and earthquakes on the whole country. A man must have a black skin or his sorrows can never reach the hearts of these gentlemen. They had better look about at home. There is wrong enough there to make a fuss about."
"Well," said the Englishman, "you had both better come back to the mother country. The beautiful words, so often quoted, of Curran, may invite you: 'No matter with what solemnities he may have been devoted upon the altar of slavery, the moment he touches the sacred soil of Britain, the altar and the God sink together in the dust, and he stands redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled, by the irresistible genius of universal emancipation.'"
"Thank you, sir, for your invitation," said Mr. Chapman, "but I'll stay in Virginia. The old State is good enough for me. I have been to England, and I saw some of your redeemed, regenerated, disenthralled people—I saw features on women's faces that haunted me afterward in my dreams. I saw children with shrivelled, attenuated limbs, and countenances that were old in misery and vice—such men, women, and children as Dickens and Charlotte Elizabeth tell about. My little grand-daughter was recovering from a severe illness, not long ago, and I found her weeping in her old nurse's arms. 'O! grandpa,' said she, as I inquired the cause of her distress, 'I have been reading "The Little Pin-headers."' I wept over it too, for it was true. No, sir; if I must see slavery, let me see it in its best form, as it exists in our Southern country."
"You are right, sir, I fear," said the Englishman.
"Well," said Mr. Perkins, "I am glad I am not a slaveholder, for one reason; I am sure I should never get to heaven. I should be knocking brains out from morning till night, that is if there are brains under all that mass of wool. Why, they are so slow, and inactive—I should be stumbling over them all the time; though from the specimens I have seen in your house, sir, I should say they made most agreeable servants."
"My servants are very faithful," said Mr. Weston, "they have had great pains taken with them. I rarely have any complaints from the overseer."
"Your overseers,—that is the worst feature in slavery," said Mr. Perkins.
"Why, sir," said Mr. Chapman, ready for another argument, "you have your superintendents at the North—and they can knock their people down whenever they see fit."
"I beg your pardon, sir," said Mr. Perkins. "I had forgotten that."
"Stay a little while with us," said Mr. Chapman, as Mr. Weston rose to lead the way to the drawing-room. "You will not find us so bad as you think. We may roast a negro now and then, when we have a barbecue, but that will be our way of showing you hospitality. You must remember we are only 'poor heathenish Southerners' according to the best received opinions of some who live with you in New England."
* * * * *
"Alice," said Mrs. Weston, at a late hour in the evening, when the last of the guests were taking their departure, "Walter would like to see you in the library; but, my love, I wish you would spare yourself and him the useless pain of parting."
"I must see him, dear mother, do not refuse me; it is for the last time—pray, let me go."
"If you choose," and Alice glided away as her mother was interrupted by the leave-taking of some of their visitors. The forms, the courtesies of life had no claims upon her now—she was enduring her first sorrow; the foundation of youth's slight fabric of happiness was yielding beneath her touch. The dread "nevermore," that Edgar Poe could not drive from his heart and sight, was oppressing her. She sought him before whom her young heart had bowed, not the less devotedly and humbly that it was silently and secretly. It was to be a bitter parting, not as when she watched to the last Arthur Weston, who was dear to her as ever was brother to a sister, for they had the promise and hope of meeting again; but now there was no tear in her eye, no trembling in her frame, and no hope in her heart. From the utmost depth of her soul arose the prophetic voice, "Thou shalt see him no more."
"Alice," said Walter, taking her hand between both of his, and gazing at her face, as pale and sad as his own, "it is your mother's wish that from this time we should be strangers to each other, even loving as we do; that our paths on earth should separate, never to meet again. Is it your wish too?"
"We must part; you know it, Walter," said Alice, musingly, looking out upon, but not seeing the calm river, and the stars that gazed upon its waves, and all the solemn beauty with which night had invested herself.
"But you love me, Alice; and will you see me go from you forever, without hope? Will you yourself speak the word that sends me forth a wanderer upon the earth?" said Walter.
"What can I do?" said Alice.
"Choose, Alice, your own destiny, and fix mine."
"Walter, I cannot leave my mother; I would die a thousand times rather than bring such sorrow upon her who has known so much. My uncle, too—my more than father—oh! Walter, I have sinned, and I suffer."
"You are wise, Alice; you have chosen well; you cling to mother, and home, and friends; I have none of these ties; there is not upon earth a being so utterly friendless as I am."
"Dear Walter, you have friends, and you can make them; you have wealth, talent, and many gifts from God. Go forth into the world and use them. Let your noble heart take courage; and in assisting others and making them happy, you will soon be happy yourself."
Walter looked at her with surprise: such words were unlike her, whom he had been accustomed to consider a loving and lovely child. But a bitter smile passed over his countenance, and in a stern voice he said, "And you, Alice, what are you to do?"
"God alone knows," said Alice, forced into a consideration of her own sorrow, and resting against a lounge near which she had been standing. She wept bitterly. Walter did not attempt to restrain her, but stood as if contemplating a grief that he could not wish to control. Alice again spoke, "It must come, dear Walter, first or last, and we may as well speak the farewell which must be spoken—but I could endure my part, if I had the hope that you will be happy. Will you promise me you will try to be?"
"No, Alice, I cannot promise you that; if happiness were in our own power, I would not be looking on you, whom I have loved all my life, for the last time.
"But I will hope," he continued, "you may be fortunate enough to forget and be happy."
"Children," said Miss Janet—for she had gently approached them—"do you know when and where happiness is to be found? When we have done all that God has given us to do here; and in the heaven, above those stars that are now looking down upon you. Look upon Alice, Walter, with the hope of meeting again; and until then, let the remembrance of her beauty and her love be ever about you. Let her hear of you as one who deserves the pure affection of her young and trusting heart. You have lived as brother and sister; part as such, and may the blessing of God be upon both of you forever."
Walter took Alice in his arms, and kissed her cheek; all sternness and pride had gone from his handsome face, but there was such a look of hopeless sorrow there, as we would not willingly behold on the countenance of one so young.
Cousin Janet led him away, and with words of solemn, deep affection, bade him farewell—words that came again, for a time, unheeded and unwelcomed—words that at the last brought hope and peace to a fainting heart.
Cousin Janet returned to Alice, whose face lay hidden within her hands: "Alice, darling," she said, "look up—God is here; forget your own grief, and think of one who suffered, and who feels for all who, like Him, must bear the burden of mortality. Think of your many blessings, and how grateful you should feel for them; think of your mother, who for years wept as you, I trust, may never weep; think of your kind uncle, who would die to save you an hour's pain. Trust the future, with all its fears, to God, and peace will come with the very effort to attain it."
"Oh, Cousin Janet," said Alice, "if Walter were not so lonely; he knows not where he is going, nor what he is going to do."
"It is true," said Cousin Janet, weeping too; "but we can hope, and trust, and pray. And now, my love, let us join your mother in her room; it is a sad parting for her, too, for Walter is dear to us all."
* * * * *
Reader! have so many years passed away, that thou hast forgotten the bitterness of thy first sorrow, or is it yet to come? Thinkest thou there is a way of escape—none, unless thou art young, and Death interpose, saving thee from all sadness, and writing on thy grave, "Do not weep for me, thou knowest not how much of sorrow this early tomb has saved me."
When were thy first thoughts of death? I do not mean the sight of the coffin, the pall, or any of its sad accompaniments, but the time when the mind first arrested itself with the melancholy convictions of mortality. There was a holiday for me in my young days, to which I looked forward as the Mohammedan to his Paradise; this was a visit to a country-place, where I revelled in the breath of the woodbines and sweetbriers, and where I sat under tall and spreading trees, and wondered why towns and cities were ever built. The great willows swept the windows of the chamber where I slept, and faces with faded eyes looked upon me from their old frames, by the moonlight, as I fell asleep, after the day's enjoyment. I never tired of wandering through the gardens, where were roses and sweet-williams, hyacinths and honeysuckles, and flowers of every shape and hue. This was the fairy spot of my recollection, for even childhood has its cares, and there were memories of little griefs, which time has never chased away. There I used to meet two children, who often roamed through the near woods with me. I do not remember their ages nor their names; they were younger though than I. They might not have been beautiful, but I recollect the bright eyes, and that downy velvet hue that is only found on the soft check of infancy.
Summer came; and when I went again, I found the clematis sweeping the garden walks, and the lilies-of-the-valley bending under the weight of their own beauty. So we walked along, I and an old servant, stopping to enter an arbor, or to raise the head of a drooping plant, or to pluck a sweet-scented shrub, and place it in my bosom. "Where are the little girls?" I asked. "Have they come again, too?"
"Yes, they are here," she said, as we approached two little mounds, covered over with the dark-green myrtle and its purple flowers.
"What is here?"
"Child, here are the little ones you asked for."
Oh! those little myrtle-covered graves, how wonderingly I gazed upon them. There was no thought of death mingled with my meditation; there was, of quiet and repose, but not of death. I had seen no sickness, no suffering, and I only wondered why those fair children had laid down under the myrtle. I fancied them with the fringed eyelids drooping over the cheeks, and the velvet hue still there. How much did I know of death? As little as of life!
Time passed with me, and I saw the sorrows of others. Sometimes I thought of the myrtle-covered graves, and the children that slept beneath. Oh! how quiet they must be, they utter no cry, they shed no tears.
Time passed, and an angel slept in my bosom, close to my heart. Need I say that I was happy when she nestled there? that her voice was music to my soul, and her smile the very presence of beauty? Need I say it was joy when she called me, Mother? Then I lived for the present; all the sorrow that I had seen around me, was forgotten.
God called that angel to her native heaven, and I wept. Now was the mystery of the myrtle-covered graves open before my sight. I had seen the going forth of a little life that was part of my own, I remembered the hard sighs that convulsed that infant breast. I knew that the grave was meant to hide from us, silence and pallor, desolation and decay. I was in the world, no longer a garden of flowers, where I sought from under the myrtle for the bright eyes and the velvet cheeks. I was in the world, and death was there too; it was by my side. I gave my darling to the earth, and felt for myself the bitterness of tears.
Thus must it ever be—by actual suffering must the young be persuaded of the struggle that is before them—well is it when there is one to say, "God is here."
We must bring Uncle Bacchus's wife before our readers. She is a tall, dignified, bright mulatto woman, named Phillis; it is with the qualities of her heart and mind, rather than her appearance, that we have to do. Bayard Taylor, writing from Nubia, in Upper Egypt, says:—"Those friends of the African race, who point to Egypt as a proof of what that race has done, are wholly mistaken. The only negro features represented in Egyptian sculpture are those of the slaves and captives taken in the Ethiopian wars of the Pharaohs. The temples and pyramids throughout Nubia, as far as Abyssinia, all bear the hieroglyphics of these monarchs. There is no evidence in all the valley of the Nile that the negro race ever attained a higher degree of civilization than is at present exhibited in Congo and Ashantee. I mention this, not from any feeling hostile to that race, but simply to controvert an opinion very prevalent in some parts of the United States."
It seemed impossible to know Phillis without feeling for her sentiments of the highest respect. The blood of the freeman and the slave mingled in her veins; her well-regulated mind slowly advanced to a conclusion; but once made, she rarely changed it.
Phillis would have been truly happy to have obtained her own freedom, and that of her husband and children: she scorned the idea of running away, or of obtaining it otherwise than as a gift from her owner. She was a firm believer in the Bible, and often pondered on the words of the angel, "Return and submit thyself to thy mistress." She had on one occasion accompanied her master and Mrs. Weston to the North, where she was soon found out by some of that disinterested class of individuals called Abolitionists. In reply to the question, "Are you free?" there was but a moment's hesitation; her pride of heart gave way to her inherent love of truth, "I'll tell no lie," she answered; "I am a slave!"
"Why do you not take your freedom?" was the rejoinder. "You are in a free state; they cannot force you to the South, if you will take the offers we make you, and leave your master."
"You are Abolitionists, I 'spose?" asked Phillis.
"We are," they said, "and we will help you off."
"I want none of your help," said Phillis. "My husband and children are at home; but if they wasn't, I am an honest woman, and am not in the habit of taking any thing. I'll never take my freedom. If my master would give it to me, and the rest of us, I should be thankful. I am not going to begin stealing, and I fifty years of age."
An eye-witness described the straightening of her tall figure, and the indignant flashing of her eye, also the discomfited looks of her northern friends.
I have somewhere read of a fable of Iceland. According to it, lost souls are to be parched in the burning heat of Hecla, and then cast for ever to cool in its never-thawing snows. Although Phillis could not have quoted this, her opinions would have applied it. For some reason, it was evident to her mind (for she had been well instructed in the Bible) that slavery was from the first ordained as a curse. It might, to her high spirit, have been like burning in the bosom of Hecla; but taking refuge among Abolitionists was, from the many instances that had come to her knowledge, like cooling in its never-thawing snows.
At the time that we introduced her to the reader, she was the mother of twelve children. Some were quite young, but a number of them were grown, and all of them, with the exception of one, (the namesake of his father,) inherited their mother's energy of character. She had accustomed them to constant industry, and unqualified obedience to her directions; and for this reason, no one had found it necessary to interfere in their management.
Pride was a large ingredient in Phillis's composition. Although her husband presented one of the blackest visages the sun ever shone upon, Phillis appeared to hold in small esteem the ordinary servants on the plantation. She was constantly chiding her children for using their expressions, and tried to keep them in the house with white people as much as possible, that they might acquire good manners. It was quite a grief to her that Bacchus had not a more genteel dialect than the one he used. She had a great deal of family pride; there was a difference in her mind between family servants and those employed in field labor. For "the quality" she had the highest respect; for "poor white people" only a feeling of pity. She had some noble qualities, and some great weaknesses; but as a slave! we present her to the reader, and she must be viewed as such.
Miss Janet was, in her eyes, perfection. Her children were all the better for her kind instructions. Her youngest child, Lydia, a girl of six or seven years old, followed the old lady everywhere, carrying her key and knitting-basket, looking for her spectacles, and maintaining short conversations in a confidential tone.
One of Phillis's chiefest virtues was, that she had been able to bring Bacchus into subjection, with the exception of his love for an occasional spree. Spoiled by an indulgent master, his conceit and wilfulness had made him unpopular with the servants, though his high tone of speaking, and a certain pretension in his manner and dress, was not without its effect. He was a sort of patriarch among waiters and carriage-drivers; could tell anecdotes of dinners where Washington was a guest; and had been familiar with certain titled people from abroad, whose shoes he had had the honor of polishing. The only person in whose presence he restrained his braggadocio style was Phillis. Her utter contempt for nonsense was too evident. Bacchus was the same size as his master, and often fell heir to his cast-off clothes. A blue dress-coat and buff vest that he thus inherited, had a great effect upon him, bodily and spiritually. Not only did he swagger more when arrayed in them, but his prayers and singing were doubly effective. He secretly prided himself on a likeness to Mr. Weston, but this must have been from a confusion of mind into which he was thrown, by constantly associating himself with Mr. Weston's coats and pantaloons.
He once said to Phillis, "You might know master was a born gentleman by de way his clothes fits. Dey don't hang about him, but dey 'pears as if dey had grow'd about him by degrees; and if you notice, dey fits me in de same way. Pity I can't wear his shoes, dey's so soft, and dey don't creak. I hates boots and shoes all time creakin, its so like poor white folks when they get dressed up on Sunday. I wonders often Miss Anna don't send me none of master's old ruffled shirts. 'Spose she thinks a servant oughtn't to wear 'em. I was a wishin last Sunday, when I gin in my 'sperience in meetin, that I had one of master's old ruffled shirts on. I know I could a 'scoursed them niggers powerful. Its a hard thing to wear a ruffled shirt. Dey sticks out and pushes up to people's chins—I mean people dat aint born to wear 'em. Master wears 'em as if he was born in 'em, and I could too. I wish you'd put Miss Janet up to gittin one or two for me. Miss Janet's mighty 'bliging for an ole maid; 'pears as if she liked to see even cats happy. When an ole maid don't hate cats, there aint nothin to be feared from 'em."
Phillis ruled her husband in most things, but she indulged him in all his whims that were innocent. She determined he should have, not an old ruffled shirt, but a new one. She reported the case to Miss Janet, who set two of her girls to work, and by Saturday night the shirt was made and done up, and plaited. Bacchus was to be pleasantly surprised by it next morning appearing on the top of his chest.
It happened that on this identical Sunday, Bacchus had (as the best of men will sometimes) got up wrong foot foremost, and not having taken the trouble to go back to bed, and get up again, putting the right foot out first, he continued in the same unhappy state of mind. He made, as was his wont, a hasty toilet before breakfast. He wore an old shirt, and a pair of pantaloons that did not reach much above his hips. One of his slippers had no instep; the other was without a heel. His grizzly beard made him look like a wild man of the woods; a certain sardonic expression of countenance contributed to this effect. He planted his chair on its remaining hind leg at the cabin door, and commenced a systematic strain of grumbling before he was fairly seated in it.
"I believe in my soul," Phillis heard him say, "dat ole Aunt Peggy al'ars gits up wrong on a Sabbath mornin. Will any one hear her coughin? My narves is racked a listenin to her. I don't see what she wants to live for, and she most a hundred. I believe its purpose to bother me, Sabbath mornins. Here, Phillis, who's this bin here, diggin up my sweet-williams I planted?—cuss dese children—"
"The children had nothing to do with it," said Phillis. "Master wanted some roots to give to Mr. Kent and he asked me for 'em. I dug 'em up and they're all the better for being thinned out."
"I wish master'd mind his own business, and not be pryin and pilferin 'bout other people's gardens; givin my flowers to that yallow-headed Abolitioner. I'll speak my mind to him about it, any how."
"You'd better," said Phillis, drily.
"I will so," said Bacchus; "I'd rather he'd a burned 'em up. Kent's so cussed mean, I don't b'lieve he'd 'low his flowers ground to grow in if he could help hisself. If Miss Nannie'd let him, he'd string them niggers of hers up, and wallop their gizzards out of 'em. I hate these Abolitioners. I knows 'em,—I knows their pedigree."
"Much you know about 'em," said Phillis, who was shaking the dew drops off her "morning glory."
"I knows enuff of 'em—I reckon Miss Nannie do, about dis time. De ole gentleman did right, any how, when he lef 'em all to her—if he hadn't, dat feller would a sold 'em all off to Georgia 'fore this, and a runn'd off wid de money."
"Well," said Phillis, "you'd better mind your own affairs; come in and eat your breakfast, if you want any, for I aint going to keep it standin there all day, drawing the flies."
Bacchus kicked his slippers off and stumbled into a chair beside the table. "I'll swar," said he, after a glance at the fried ham and eggs, "if ever a man had to eat sich cookin as dis. Why didn't you fry 'em a little more?" Phillis not minding him, he condescended to eat them all, and to do justice to the meal in general.
"The old fool," thought Phillis, amused and provoked; "talkin of master's pilferin—never mind, I've put his ruffled shirt out, and he'll get in a good humor when he sees it, I reckon."
Having finished his breakfast, Bacchus put an enormous piece of tobacco in his mouth, and commenced sharpening a small-sized scythe, that he called a razor. In doing so, he made a noise like a high-pressure steamboat, now and then breathing on it, and going in a severe fit of coughing with every extra exertion. On his table was a broken piece of looking-glass, on the quicksilver side of which, Arthur had, when a child, drawn a horse. Into this Bacchus gave a look, preparatory to commencing operations. Then, after due time spent in lathering, he hewed down at each shave, an amount of black tow that was inconceivable. After he had done, he gathered up his traps, and stowed them away in the corner of his chest.
Phillis sat outside the door, smoking; looking in at the window, occasionally, to observe the effect of the first sight of the new shirt. She saw him turn toward the little red painted bureau, on which she had laid out his clean clothes, starting with surprise and pleasure, when his eye first took in the delightful vision. Cortez, when he stood conqueror of Mexico, did not feel the glow of satisfaction that thrilled through Bacchus's heart as he gently patted the plaited ruffles and examined the wristbands, which were stitched with the utmost neatness. He got weak in the knees with pleasure, and sat down on the chest in the corner, to support with more ease this sudden accession of happiness, while his wife was reaping a harvest of gratification at the success of her efforts toward his peace of mind. All at once she saw a change pass over his visage. Bacchus recollected that it would not do for him so suddenly to get into a good humor; besides, he reflected it was no more than Phillis's duty to make him ruffled shirts, and she ought to have been so doing for the last twenty years. These considerations induced him not to show much pleasure on the occasion, but to pretend he was not at all satisfied with the style and workmanship of the article in question.
"Why, lord a massy," said he, "Phillis, what do you call dis here? t'aint a shirt? at fust I thought 'twas one of Miss Janet's short night gowns you'd been a doing up for her."
Phillis smoked on, looking inquiringly into the distant hills.
"Phillis, you don't mean me to wear dis here to meetin? T'aint fit. Dese wristbands is made out o' cotton, and I b'lieves in my soul Aunt Peggy done dis stitchin widout any spectacles."
Phillis knocked the ashes out of her pipe, and puffed on.
"Look here, Phillis," said Bacchus, going to the door as fast as the uncertain condition of his pantaloons would allow him, "did you 'spose I was sich a fool as to wear dis to meetin to-day?"
"Yes, I did," said Phillis.
"Why, t'aint fit for a nigger to hoe corn in, its as big as a hay-stack."
"Have you tried it on?" asked Phillis.
"T'aint no use," said Bacchus, "I can tell by de looks."
"I'm sorry you don't like it," said Phillis.
"Like it," said Bacchus, contemptuously, "why, if it twasn't for the trouble of going to my chist, I'd wear one of my old ones. Cuss de ruffles, I wish you'd cut 'em off."
Bacchus went in, and in due time made his appearance in full dress. He wore the blue coat and buff vest, and a pair of white pantaloons, made after the old style. His shoes were as bright as his eyes, and his hat dusted until it only wanted an entire new nap to make it as good as new. His hair was combed in a sort of mound in front, and the tout ensemble was astounding. He passed Phillis in a dignified way, as if she were a valuable cat that he would not like to tread upon.
Phillis looked after him with a most determined expression of face. If she had been made out of stone she could not have seemed more resolved. She got up, however, soon after, and went in to arrange matters after her lord and master.
Bacchus purposely passed Aunt Peggy's cabin, making her a stylish bow. Peggy had taken off her handkerchief, to air her head, her hair standing off every which way, appearing determined to take her up somewhere, the point of destination being a matter of no consequence. She chuckled audibly as she saw Bacchus.
"Look at dat ole fool now, wid dat ruffled shirt on; he's gwine to bust dis blessed mornin. Look at de way he's got his wool combed up. I b'lieves in my soul he's got somebody buried up thar. He's a raal ole peacock. Dat's de way! 'Kase I'm ole and wuthless, no matter 'bout me; and dat ole nigger 'lowed to make a fool of hisself, dressin up drunk in a ruffled shirt. No matter, I'll be dead and out of der way, fore long."
Bacchus prayed with great effect this morning, calling himself and the whole congregation the most dreadful names, with the utmost satisfaction. He made a short address too, warning the servants against sin in general, and a love of finery in particular. On his return he beamed forth upon Phillis like one of her own "morning glories." The rest of the day he was brimful of jokes and religion.
The next Sunday came around. Phillis smoked outside while Bacchus made his toilet.
"Phillis," said the old fellow, blandly, coming to the door, "I don't see my ruffled shirt out here."
"High" said Phillis, "I laid your shirt with the rest; but I'll look. Here it is," said she, pleasantly, "jest where I put it."
"Why, whar's the ruffles?"
"I cut 'em off," said Phillis; "you asked me to."
Bacchus got weak in the knees again, and had to sit down on the old chest. Not a word escaped his lips; a deep sigh burst from the pent-up boiler of his remorse. With an agonized countenance he seized a piece of rag which he had used as a shaving towel, and wiped away a repentant tear. His soul was subdued within him. He went to meeting, but declined officiating in any capacity, pleading a pain in his stomach as an excuse. At dinner he found it impossible to finish the remaining quarter of a very tough old rooster Phillis had stuffed and roasted for him. At sundown he ate a small-sized hoe-cake and a tin pan of bonnyclabber; then observing "That he believed he was put into dis world for nothing but to have trouble," he took to his bed.
Phillis saw that he would be more docile for the rest of his life; for a moment, the thought of restoring the shirt to its original splendor occurred to her, but she chased it away as if it had been a fox, and took the greatest satisfaction in "having given the old fool a lesson that would last him all the days of his life."
"To you, generous and noble-minded men and women of the South, I appeal, (I quote the words of a late writer on Abolitionism, when I say,) Is man ever a creature to be trusted with wholly irresponsible power? Can anybody fail to make the inference, what the practical result will be?"[A] Although she is here speaking of slavery politically, can you not apply it to matrimony in this miserable country of ours? Can we not remodel our husbands, place them under our thumbs, and shut up the escape valves of their grumbling forever? To be sure, St. Paul exhorts "wives to be obedient to their own husbands," and "servants to be obedient to their own masters," but St. Paul was not an Abolitionist. He did not take into consideration the necessities of the free-soil party, and woman's rights. This is the era of mental and bodily emancipation. Take advantage of it, wives and negroes! But, alas for the former! there is no society formed for their benefit; their day of deliverance has not yet dawned, and until its first gleamings arise in the east, they must wear their chains. Except when some strong-minded female steps forth from the degraded ranks, and asserts her position, whether by giving loose to that unruly member the tongue, or by a piece of management which will give "an old fool a lesson that will last him all the days of his life."
Phillis was at her ironing early in the morning, for she liked to hurry it over before the heat of the day. Her cabin doors were open, and her flowers, which had been watered by a slight rain that fell about daybreak, looked fresh and beautiful. Her house could be hardly called a cabin, for it was very much superior to the others on the plantation, though they were all comfortable. Phillis was regarded by the Weston family as the most valuable servant they owned—and, apart from her services, there were strong reasons why they were attached to her. She had nursed Mrs. Weston in her last illness, and as her death occurred immediately after Arthur's birth, she nourished him as her own child, and loved him quite as well. Her comfort and wishes were always objects of the greatest consideration to the family, and this was proved whenever occasion allowed. Her neatly white-washed cottage was enclosed by a wooden fence in good condition—her little garden laid out with great taste, if we except the rows of stiffly-trimmed box which Phillis took pride in. A large willow tree shaded one side of it; and on the other, gaudy sunflowers reared their heads, and the white and Persian lilacs, contrasted with them. All kinds of small flowers and roses adorned the front of the house, and you might as well have sought for a diamond over the whole place, as a weed. The back of the lot was arranged for the accommodation of her pigs and chickens; and two enormous peacocks, that were fond of sunning themselves by the front door, were the handsomest ornaments about the place.
The room in which Phillis ironed, was not encumbered with much furniture. Her ironing-table occupied a large part of its centre, and in the ample fireplace was blazing a fire great enough to cook a repast for a moderate number of giants. Behind the back door stood a common pine bedstead, with an enormous bed upon it. How any bedstead held such a bed was remarkable; for Phillis believed there was a virtue in feathers even in the hottest weather, and she would rather have gone to roost on the nearest tree than to have slept on any thing else. The quilt was of a domestic blue and white, her own manufacture, and the cases to the pillows were very white and smooth. A little, common trundle bedstead was underneath, and on it was the bedding which was used for the younger children at night. The older ones slept in the servants' wing in the house, Phillis making use of two enormous chests, which were Bacchus's, and her wardrobes, for sleeping purposes for a couple more. To the right of the bed, was the small chest of drawers, over which was suspended Bacchus's many-sided piece of shaving glass, and underneath it a pine box containing his shaving weapons. Several chairs, in a disabled state, found places about the room, and Phillis's clothes-horse stood with open arms, ready to receive the white and well-ironed linen that was destined to hang upon it. On each side of the fireplace was a small dresser, with plates and jars of all sizes and varieties, and over each were suspended some branches of trees, inviting the flies to rest upon them. There was no cooking done in this room, there being a small shed for that purpose, back of the house; not a spot of grease dimmed the whiteness of the floors, and order reigned supreme, marvellous to relate! where a descendant of Afric's daughters presided.
Lydia had gone as usual to Miss Janet, and several of the other children were busy about the yard, feeding the chickens, sweeping up, and employed in various ways; the only one who ever felt inclined to be lazy, and who was in body and mind the counterpart of his father, being seated on the door step, declaring he had a pain in his foot.
The adjoining room was the place in which Phillis's soul delighted, the door of it being at all times locked, and the key lost in the depths of her capacious pocket. From this place of retirement it emerged when any of the family honored her with their company, especially when attended by visitors; and after their departure, traces of their feet were carefully sought with keen and anxious eyes, and quickly obliterated with broom and duster.
This, her sanctum sanctorum, was a roomy apartment with three windows, each shaded by white cotton curtains. On the floor was a home-made carpet; no hand was employed in its manufacture save its owner's, from the time she commenced tearing the rags in strips, to the final blow given to the last tack that confined it to the floor. A very high post bedstead, over which were suspended white cotton curtains, gave an air of grandeur to one side of the room. No one had slept in it for ten years, though it was made with faultless precision. The quilt over it contained pieces of every calico and gingham dress that had been worn in the Weston family since the Revolution, and in the centre had been transferred from a remnant of curtain calico, an eagle with outstretched wings. The pillow cases were finished off with tape trimming, Alice's work, at Cousin Janet's suggestion. Over an old fashioned-mahogany bureau hung an oval looking glass, which was carefully covered from the flies. An easy chair stood by the window at the foot of the bed, which had, like most of the other ancient looking pieces of furniture, occupied a conspicuous place in Mr. Weston's house. Six chairs planted with unyielding stiffness against the walls seemed to grow out of the carpet; and the very high fender enclosed a pair of andirons that any body with tolerable eyesight could have seen their faces in.