"The fact was I was inclined to think the lock-up not so bad a place to get into, seeing how they gave people something good to eat, and clothes to wear. Tom and me went into business together. We sold Heralds and Sunday papers, and made a good thing of it, and shared our earnings, and got enough to eat and some clothes. I took up my stand in Centre Market, and Tom took up his at Peck Slip. At night we would meet, count our earnings, and give them to Mr. Crogan, who kept the cellar in Water street, where we slept. I left Hag Zogbaum, who we got to calling the wizard. She got all we could earn or pilfer, and we got nothing for our backs but a few rags, and unwholesome fish and beer for our bellies. I thought of Anna day and night; I hoped to meet in Centre Market the woman who took her away.
"I said no one ever looked in at the den in 'Scorpion Cove,' but there was a kind little man, with sharp black eyes, and black hair, and an earnest olive-colored face, and an earnester manner about him, who used to look in now and then, talk kindly to us, and tell us he wished he had a home for us all, and was rich enough to give us all enough to eat. He hated Hag Zogbaum, and Hag Zogbaum hated him; but we all liked him because he was kind to us, and used to shake his head, and say he would do something for us yet. Hag Zogbaum said he was always meddling with other people's business. At other times a man would come along and throw tracts in at the gate of the alley. We were ignorant of what they were intended for, and used to try to sell them at the Gibraltars. Nobody wanted them, and nobody could read at the den, so Hag Zogbaum lighted the fire with them, and that was the end of them.
"Well, I sold papers for nearly two years, and learned to read a little by so doing, and got up in the world a little; and being what was called smart, attracted the attention of a printer in Nassau street, who took me into his office, and did well by me. My mind was bent on getting a trade. I knew I could do well for myself with a trade to lean upon. Two years I worked faithfully at the printer's, was approaching manhood, and with the facilities it afforded me had not failed to improve my mind and get a tolerable good knowledge of the trade. But the image of Anna, and the singular manner in which she disappeared, made me unhappy.
"On my return from dinner one day I met in Broadway the lady who took Anna away. The past and its trials flashed across my brain, and I turned and followed her-found that her home was changed to Mercer street, and this accounted for my fruitless watching in Leonard street.
"The love of Anna, that had left its embers smouldering in my bosom, quickened, and seemed to burn with redoubled ardor. It was my first and only love; the sufferings of our childhood had made it lasting. My very emotion rose to action as I saw the woman I knew took her away. My anxiety to know her fate had no bounds. Dressing myself up as respectably as it was possible with my means, I took advantage of a dark and stormy night in the month of November to call at the house in Mercer street, into which I had traced the lady. I rung the bell; a sumptuously-dressed woman came to the door, which opened into a gorgeously-decorated hall. She looked at me with an inquiring eye and disdainful frown, inquired who I was and what I wanted. I confess I was nervous, for the dazzling splendor of the mansion produced in me a feeling of awe rather than admiration. I made known my mission as best I could; the woman said no such person had ever resided there. In that moment of disappointment I felt like casting myself away in despair. The associations of Scorpion Cove, of the house of the Nine Nations, of the Rookery, of Paddy Pie's-or any other den in that desert of death that engulphs the Points, seemed holding out a solace for the melancholy that weighed me down. But when I got back into Broadway my resolution gained strength, and with it I wept over the folly of my thoughts.
"Led by curiosity, and the air of comfort pervading the well-furnished room, and the piously-disposed appearance of the persons who passed in and out, I had several times looked in at the house of the 'Foreign Missions,' as we used to call it. A man with a good-natured face used to sit in the chair, and a wise-looking little man in spectacles (the Secretary) used to sit a bit below him, and a dozen or two well-disposed persons of both sexes, with sharp and anxious countenances, used to sit round in a half circle, listening. The wise-looking man in the spectacles would, on motion of some one present, read a long report, which was generally made up of a list of donations and expenditures for getting up a scheme to evangelize the world, and get Mr. Singleton Spyke off to Antioch. It seemed to me as if a deal of time and money was expended on Mr. Singleton Spyke, and yet Mr. Spyke never got off to Antioch. When the man of the spectacles got through reading the long paper, and the good-natured man in the chair got through explaining that the heavy amount of twenty-odd thousand dollars had been judiciously expended for the salary of officers of the society, and the getting Brothers Spurn and Witherspoon off to enlighten the heathen, Brother Singleton Spyke's mission would come up. Every one agreed that there ought to be no delay in getting Brother Spyke off to Antioch; but a small deficiency always stood in the way. And Brother Spyke seemed spiked to this deficiency; for notwithstanding Mrs. Slocum, who was reckoned the strongest-minded woman, and best business-man of the society, always made speeches in favor of Brother Spyke and his mission (a special one), he never got off to Antioch.
"Feeling forlorn, smarting under disappointment, and undecided where to go after I left the house in Mercer street, I looked in at the house of the 'Foreign Missions.' Mrs. Slocum, as I had many times before seen her, was warmly contesting a question concerning Brother Spyke, with the good-natured man in the chair. It was wrong, she said, so much money should be expended, and Brother Spyke not got off to Antioch. So leaving them debating Mr. Spyke's mission to Antioch, I proceeded back to the house in Mercer street, and inquired for the landlady of the house. The landlady, the woman that opened the door said, was engaged. The door was shut in my face, and I turned away more wounded in my feelings than before. Day and night I contemplated some plan by which to ascertain Anna's place of abode, her pursuit in life, her wants. When we parted she could neither write nor read: I had taken writing lessons, by which I could communicate tolerably well, while my occupation afforded me the means of improvement. A few weeks passed (I continued to watch the house), and I recognized her one afternoon, by her black, floating hair, sitting at a second-story window of the house in Mercer street, her back toward me. The sight was like electricity on my feelings; a transport of joy bore away my thoughts. I gazed, and continued to gaze upon the object, throwing, as it were, new passion into my soul. But it turned, and there was a changed face, a face more lovely, looking eagerly into a book. Looking eagerly into a book did not betray one who could not read. But there was that in my heart that prompted me to look on the favorable side of the doubt-to try a different expedient in gaining admittance to the house. When night came, I assumed a dress those who look on mechanics as vulgar people, would have said became a gentleman; and approaching the house, gained easy admittance. As I was about entering the great parlors, a familiar but somewhat changed voice at the top of the circling stairs that led from the hall caught my ear. I paused, listened, became entranced with suspense. Again it resounded-again my heart throbbed with joy. It was Anna's voice, so soft and musical. The woman who opened the door turned from me, and attempted to hush it. But Anna seemed indifferent to the admonition, for she tripped buoyantly down stairs, accompanying a gentleman to the door. I stood before her, a changed person. Her recognition of me was instantaneous. Her color changed, her lips quivered, her eyes filled with tears, her very soul seemed fired with emotions she had no power to resist. 'George Mullholland!' she exclaimed, throwing her arms about my neck, kissing me, and burying her head in my bosom, and giving vent to her feelings in tears and quickened sobs-'how I have thought of you, watched for you, and hoped for the day when we would meet again and be happy. Oh, George! George! how changed everything seems since we parted! It seems a long age, and yet our sufferings, and the fondness for each other that was created in that suffering, freshens in the mind. Dear, good George-my protector!' she continued, clinging to me convulsively. I took her in my arms (the scene created no little excitement in the house) and bore her away to her chamber, which was chastely furnished, displaying a correct taste, and otherwise suited to a princess. Having gained her presence of mind, and become calm, she commenced relating what had occurred since we parted at Scorpion Cove. I need not relate it at length here, for it was similar in character to what might be told by a thousand others if they were not powerless. For months she had been confined to the house, her love of dress indulged to the furthest extent, her mind polluted and initiated into the mysteries of refined licentiousness, her personal appearance scrupulously regarded, and made to serve the object of which she was a victim in the hands of the hostess, who made her the worse than slave to a banker of great respectability in Wall street. This good man and father was well down in the vale of years, had a mansion on Fifth Avenue, and an interesting and much-beloved family. He was, in addition, a prominent member of the commercial community; but his example to those more ready to imitate the errors of men in high positions, than to improve by the examples of the virtuous poor, was not what it should be. Though a child of neglect, and schooled to licentiousness under the very eye of a generous community, her natural sensibility recoiled at the thought that she was a mere object of prey to the passions of one she could not love.
"She resolved to remain in this condition no longer, and escaped to Savannah with a young man whose acquaintance she had made at the house in Mercer street. For a time they lived at a respectable hotel, as husband and wife. But her antecedents got out, and they got notice to leave. The same fate met them in Charleston, to which city they removed. Her antecedents seemed to follow her wherever she went, like haunting spirits seeking her betrayal. She was homeless; and without a home there was nothing open to her but that vortex of licentiousness the world seemed pointing her to. Back she went to the house in Mercer street-was glad to get back; was at least free from the finger of scorn. Henceforward she associated with various friends, who sought her because of her transcendent charms. She had cultivated a natural intelligence, and her manners were such as might have become one in better society. But her heart's desire was to leave the house. I took her from it; and for a time I was happy to find that the contaminating weeds of vice had not overgrown the more sensitive buds of virtue.
"I provided a small tenement in Centre street, such as my means would afford, and we started in the world, resolved to live respectably. But what had maintained me respectably was now found inadequate to the support of us both. Life in a house of sumptuous vice had rendered Anna incapable of adapting herself to the extreme of economy now forced upon us. Anna was taken sick; I was compelled to neglect my work, and was discharged. Discontent, embarrassment, and poverty resulted. I struggled to live for six months; but my prospects, my hopes of gaining an honest living, were gone. I had no money to join the society, and the trade being dull, could get nothing to do. Fate seemed driving us to the last stage of distress. One by one our few pieces of furniture, our clothing, and the few bits of jewelry Anna had presented her at the house in Mercer street, found their way to the sign of the Three Martyrs. The man of the eagle face would always lend something on them, and that something relieved us for the time. I many times thought, as I passed the house of the Foreign Missions in Centre street, where there was such an air of comfort, that if Mrs. Abijah Slocum, and the good-natured man who sat in the chair, and the wise little man in the spectacles, would condescend to look in at our little place, and instead of always talking about getting Mr. Singleton Spyke off to Antioch, take pity on our destitution, what a relief it would be. It would have made more hearts happy than Mr. Spyke, notwithstanding the high end of his mission, could have softened in ten years at Antioch.
"Necessity, not inclination, forced Anna back into the house in Mercer street, when I became her friend, her transient protector. Her hand was as ready to bestow as her heart was warm and generous. She gave me money, and was kind to me; but the degraded character of my position caused me to despond, to yield myself a victim to insidious vice, to become the associate of men whose only occupation was that of gambling and 'roping-in' unsuspecting persons. I was not long in becoming an efficient in the arts these men practiced on the unwary. We used to meet at the 'Subterranean,' in Church street, and there concoct our mode of operations. And from this centre went forth, daily, men who lived by gambling, larceny, picking pockets, counterfeiting, and passing counterfeit money. I kept Anna ignorant of my associations. Nevertheless I was forced to get money, for I found her affections becoming perverted. At times her manner towards me was cold, and I sought to change it with money.
"While thus pursuing a life so precarious and exciting, I used to look in at the 'Empire,' in Broadway, to see whom I could 'spot,' as we called it at the 'Subterranean.' And it was here I met poor Tom Swiggs, distracted and giving himself up to drink, in the fruitless search after the girl of his love, from whom he had been separated, as he said, by his mother. He had loved the girl, and the girl returned his love with all the sincerity and ardor of her soul. But she was poor, and of poor parents. And as such people were reckoned nothing in Charleston, his mother locked him up in jail, and she was got out of the way. Tom opened his heart to me, said foul means had been resorted to, and the girl had thrown herself away, because, while he was held in close confinement, falsehoods had been used to make her believe he had abandoned her. To have her an outcast on his account, to have her leading the life of an abandoned woman, and that with the more galling belief that he had forsaken her, was more than he could bear, and he was sinking under the burden. Instead of making him an object of my criminal profession, his story so touched my feelings that I became his protector, saw him to his lodgings in Green street, and ultimately got him on board a vessel bound to Charleston.
"Not many weeks after this, I, being moneyless, was the principal of a plot by which nearly a thousand dollars was got of the old man in Wall street, who had been Anna's friend; and fearing it might get out, I induced her to accompany me to Charleston, where she believed I had a prospect of bettering my condition, quitting my uncertain mode of living, and becoming a respectable man. Together we put up at the Charleston Hotel. But necessity again forced me to reveal to her my circumstances, and the real cause of my leaving New York. Her hopes of shaking off the taint of her former life seemed blasted; but she bore the shock with resignation, and removed with me to the house of Madame Flamingo, where we for a time lived privately. But the Judge sought her out, followed her with the zeal of a knight, and promised, if she would forsake me, to be her protector; to provide for her and maintain her like a lady during her life. What progress he has made in carrying out his promise you have seen. The English baronet imposed her upon the St. Cecilia, and the Judge was the first to betray her."
IN WHICH THE READER IS INTRODUCED TO MR. ABSALOM M'ARTHUR.
You must know, reader, that King street is our Boulevard of fashion; and though not the handsomest street in the world, nor the widest, nor the best paved, nor the most celebrated for fine edifices, we so cherish its age and dignity that we would not for the world change its provincial name, or molest one of the hundred old tottering buildings that daily threaten a dissolution upon its pavement, or permit a wench of doubtful blood to show her head on the "north sidewalk" during promenade hours. We are, you see, curiously nice in matters of color, and we should be. You may not comprehend the necessity for this scrupulous regard to caste; others do not, so you are not to blame for your ignorance of the customs of an atmosphere you have only breathed through novels written by steam. We don't (and you wouldn't) like to have our wives meet our slightly-colored mistresses. And we are sure you would not like to have your highly-educated and much-admired daughters meet those cream-colored material evidences of your folly-called by Northern "fanatics" their half-sisters! You would not! And your wives, like sensible women, as our wives and daughters are, would, if by accident they did meet them, never let you have a bit of sleep until you sent them to old Graspum's flesh-market, had them sold, and the money put safely into their hands. We do these things just as you would; and our wives being philosophers, and very fashionable withal, put the money so got into fine dresses, and a few weeks' stay at some very select watering-place in the North. If your wife be very accomplished, (like ours,) and your daughters much admired for their beauty, (like ours,) they will do as ours did-put wisely the cash got for their detestable relatives into a journey of inspection over Europe. So, you see, we keep our fashionable side of King street; and woe be to the shady mortal that pollutes its bricks!
Mr. Absalom McArthur lives on the unfashionable side of this street, in a one-story wooden building, with a cottage roof, covered with thick, black moss, and having two great bow windows, and a very lean door, painted black, in front. It is a rummy old house to look at, for the great bow windows are always ornamented with old hats, which Mr. McArthur makes supply the place of glass; and the house itself, notwithstanding it keeps up the dignity of a circular window over the door, reminds one of that valiant and very notorious characteristic of the State, for it has, during the last twenty or more years, threatened (but never done it) to tumble upon the unfashionable pavement, just in like manner as the State has threatened (but never done it!) to tumble itself out of our unfashionable Union. We are a great people, you see; but having the impediment of the Union in the way of displaying our might, always stand ready to do what we never intended to do. We speak in that same good-natured sense and metaphor used by our politicians, (who are become very distinguished in the refined arts of fighting and whiskey-drinking,) when they call for a rope to put about the neck of every man not sufficiently stupid to acknowledge himself a secessionist. We imagine ourselves the gigantic and sublime theatre of chivalry, as we have a right to do; we raise up heroes of war and statesmanship, compared with whom your Napoleons, Mirabeaus, and Marats-yes, even your much-abused Roman orators and Athenian philosophers, sink into mere insignificance. Nor are we bad imitators of that art displayed by the Roman soldiers, when they entered the Forum and drenched it with Senatorial blood! Pardon this digression, reader.
Of a summer morning you will see McArthur, the old Provincialist, as he is called, arranging in his great bow windows an innumerable variety of antique relics, none but a Mrs. Toodles could conceive a want for—such as broken pots, dog-irons, fenders, saws, toasters, stew-pans, old muskets, boxing-gloves and foils, and sundry other odds and ends too numerous to mention. At evening he sits in his door, a clever picture of a by-gone age, on a venerable old sofa, supported on legs tapering into feet of lion's paws, and carved in mahogany, all tacked over with brass-headed nails. Here the old man sits, and sits, and sits, reading the "Heroes of the Revolution," (the only book he ever reads,) and seemingly ready at all times to serve the "good wishes" of his customers, who he will tell you are of the very first families, and very distinguished! He holds distinguished people in high esteem; and several distinguished persons have no very bad opinion of him, but a much better one of his very interesting daughter, whose acquaintance (though not a lady, in the Southern acceptation of the term) they would not object to making-provided!
His little shop is lumbered with boxes and barrels, all containing relics of a by-gone age—such as broken swords, pistols of curious make, Revolutionary hand-saws, planes, cuirasses, broken spurs, blunderbusses, bowie, scalping, and hunting-knives; all of which he declares our great men have a use for. Hung on a little post, and over a pair of rather suspicious-looking buckskin breeches, is a rusty helmet, which he sincerely believes was worn by a knight of the days of William the Conqueror. A little counter to the left staggers under a pile of musty old books and mustier papers, all containing valuable matter relating to the old Continentals, who, as he has it, were all Carolinians. (Dispute this, and he will go right into a passion.) Resting like good-natured policemen against this weary old counter are two sympathetic old coffins, several second-hand crutches, and a quantity of much-neglected wooden legs. These Mr. McArthur says are in great demand with our first families. No one, except Mr. Soloman Snivel, knows better what the chivalry stand in need of to prop up its declining dignity. His dirty little shelves, too, are stuffed with those cheap uniforms the State so grudgingly voted its unwilling volunteers during the Revolution.
See Senator Sumner's speech in Congress on Plantation manners. Tucked in here and there, at sixes and sevens, are the scarlet and blue of several suits of cast-off theatrical wardrobe he got of Abbott, and now loans for a small trifle to Madame Flamingo and the St. Cecilia Society-the first, when she gives her very seductive bal-masques; the second, when distinguished foreigners with titles honor its costume balls. As for Revolutionary cocked hats, epaulettes, plumes, and holsters, he has enough to supply and send off, feeling as proud as peacocks, every General and Colonel in the State-and their name, as you ought to know, reader, is legion.
The stranger might, indeed, be deceived into the belief that Absalom McArthur's curiosity shop was capable of furnishing accoutrements for that noble little army, (standing army we call it!) on which the State prides itself not a little, and spends no end of money. For ourselves, (if the reader but permit us,) we have long admired this little Spartan force, saying all the good things of it our prosy brain could invent, and in the kindest manner recommending its uniform good character as a model for our very respectable society to fashion after. Indeed, we have, in the very best nature of a modern historian, endeavored to enlighten the barbarian world outside of South Carolina as to the terrible consequences which might accrue to the Union did this noble little army assume any other than a standing character. Now that General Jackson is out of the way, and our plebeian friends over the Savannah, whom we hold in high esteem, (the Georgians,) kindly consent to let us go our own road out of the Union, nothing can be more grateful than to find our wise politicians sincerely believing that when this standing army, of which other States know so little, shall have become allied with those mighty men of Beaufort, dire consequences to this young but very respectable Federal compact will be the result. Having discharged the duties of a historian, for the benefit of those benighted beings unfortunate enough to live out of our small but highly-civilized State, we must return to McArthur.
He is a little old-maidish about his age, which for the last twenty years has not got a day more than fifty-four. Being as sensitive of his veracity as the State is of its dignity, we would not, either by implication or otherwise, lay an impeachment at his door, but rather charge the discrepancy to that sin (a treacherous memory) the legal gentry find so convenient for their purposes when they knock down their own positions. McArthur stood five feet eight exactly, when young, but age has made him lean of person, and somewhat bent. His face is long and corrugated; his expression of countenance singularly serious. A nose, neither aquiline nor Grecian, but large enough, and long enough, and red enough at the end, to make both; a sharp and curiously-projecting chin, that threatens a meeting, at no very distant day, with his nasal organ; two small, watchful blue eyes deep-set under narrow arches, fringed with long gray lashes; a deeply-furrowed, but straight and contracted forehead, and a shaggy red wig, poised upon the crown of his head, and, reader, if you except the constant working of a heavy, drooping lower lip, and the diagonal sight with which his eyes are favored, you have his most prominent features. Fashion he holds in utter contempt, nor has he the very best opinion in the world of our fashionable tailors, who are grown so rich that they hold mortgages on the very best plantations in the State, and offer themselves candidates for the Governorship. Indeed, Mr. McArthur says, one of these knights of the goose, not long since, had the pertinacity to imagine himself a great General. And to show his tenacious adherence to the examples set by the State, he dresses exactly as his grandfather's great-grandfather used to, in a blue coat, with small brass buttons, a narrow crimpy collar, and tails long enough and sharp enough for a clipper-ship's run. The periods when he provided himself with new suits are so far apart that they formed special episodes in his history; nevertheless there is always an air of neatness about him, and he will spend much time arranging a dingy ruffled shirt, a pair of gray trowsers, a black velvet waistcoat, cut in the Elizabethan style, and a high, square shirt collar, into which his head has the appearance of being jammed. This collar he ties with a much-valued red and yellow Spittlefields, the ends of which flow over his ruffle. Although the old man would not bring much at the man-shambles, we set a great deal of store by him, and would not exchange him for anything in the world but a regiment or two of heroic secessionists. Indeed we are fully aware that nothing like him exists beyond the highly perfumed atmosphere of our State. And to many other curious accomplishments the old man adds that of telling fortunes. The negroes seriously believe he has a private arrangement with the devil, of whom he gets his wisdom, and the secret of propitiating the gods.
Two days have passed since the emeute at the house of the old hostess. McArthur has promised the young missionary a place for Tom Swiggs, when he gets out of prison (but no one but his mother seems to have a right to let him out), and the tall figure of Mister Snivel is seen entering the little curiosity shop. "I say!—my old hero, has she been here yet?" inquires Mr. Snivel, the accommodation man. "Nay, good friend," returns the old man, rising from his sofa, and returning the salutation, "she has not yet darkened the door." The old man draws the steel-bowed spectacles from his face, and watches with a patriarchal air any change that comes over the accommodation man's countenance. "Now, good friend, if I did but know the plot," pursues the old man.
"The plot you are not to know! I gave you her history yesterday— that is, as far as I know it. You must make up the rest. You know how to tell fortunes, old boy. I need not instruct you. Mind you flatter her beauty, though-extend on the kindness of the Judge, and be sure you get it in that it was me who betrayed her at the St. Cecelia. All right old boy, eh?" and shaking McArthur by the hand warmly, he takes his departure, bowing himself into the street. The old man says he will be all ready when she comes.
Scarcely has the accommodation man passed out of sight when a sallow-faced stripling makes his appearance, and with that characteristic effrontery for borrowing and never returning, of the property-man of a country theatre, "desires" to know if Mr. McArthur will lend him a skull.
"A skull!" ejaculates the old man, his bony fingers wandering to his melancholy lip—"a skull!" and he fusses studiously round the little cell-like place, looking distrustfully at the property-man, and then turning an anxious eye towards his piles of rubbish, as if fearing some plot is on foot to remove them to the infernal regions.
"You see," interrupts Mr. Property, "we play Hamlet to-night—expect a crammed house—and our star, being scrupulous of his reputation, as all small stars are, won't go on for the scene of the grave-digger, without two skulls-he swears he won't! He raised the very roof of the theatre this morning, because his name wasn't in bigger type on the bill. And if we don't give him two skulls and plenty of bones to-night, he swears-and such swearing as it is!—he'll forfeit the manager, have the house closed, and come out with a card to the public in the morning. We are in a fix, you see! The janitor only has one, and he lent us that as if he didn't want to."
Mr. McArthur says he sees, and with an air of regained wisdom stops suddenly, and takes from a shelf a dingy old board, on which is a dingier paper, bearing curious inscriptions, no one but the old man himself would have supposed to be a schedule of stock in trade. Such it is, nevertheless. He rubs his spectacles, places them methodically upon his face, wipes and wipes the old board with his elbow. "It's here if it's anywhere!" says the old man, with a sigh. "It comes into my head that among the rest of my valuables I've Yorick's skull."
"The very skull we want!" interrupts Property. And the old man quickens the working of his lower jaw, and continues to rub at the board until he has brought out the written mystery. "My ancestors were great people," he mumbles to himself, "great people!" He runs the crusty forefinger of his right hand up and down the board, adding, "and any customers are all of the first families, which is some consolation in one's poverty. Ah! I have it here!" he exclaims, with childlike exultation, frisking his fingers over the board. "One Yorick's skull-a time-worn, tenantless, and valuable relic, in which graveyard worms have banqueted more than once. Yes, young man, presented to my ancestors by the elder Stuarts, and on that account worth seven skulls, or more." "One Yorick's skull," is written on the paper, upon which the old man presses firmly his finger. Then turning to an old box standing in the little fire-place behind the counter, saying, "it's in here-as my name's Absalom McArthur, it is," he opens the lid, and draws forth several old military coats (they have seen revolutionary days! he says, exultingly), numerous scales of brass, such as are worn on British soldiers' hats, a ponderous chapeau and epaulets, worn, he insists, by Lord Nelson at the renowned battle of Trafalgar. He has not opened, he adds, this box for more than twelve long years. Next he drags forth a military cloak of great weight and dimensions. "Ah!" he exclaims, with nervous joy, "here's the identical cloak worn by Lord Cornwallis-how my ancestors used to prize it." And as he unrolls its great folds there falls upon the floor, to his great surprise, an old buff-colored silk dress, tied firmly with a narrow, green ribbon. "Maria! Maria! Maria!" shouts the old man, as if suddenly seized with a spasm. And his little gray eyes flash with excitement, as he says—"if here hasn't come to light at last, poor Mag Munday's dress. God forgive the poor wretch, she's dead and gone, no doubt." In response to the name of "Maria" there protrudes from a little door that opens into a passage leading to a back-room, the delicate figure of a female, with a face of great paleness, overcast by a thoughtful expression. She has a finely-developed head, intelligent blue eyes, light auburn hair, and features more interesting than regular. Indeed, there is more to admire in the peculiar modesty of her demeanor than in the regularity of her features, as we shall show. "My daughter!" says the old man, as she nervously advances, her pale hand extended. "Poor woman! how she would mourn about this old dress; and say it contained something that might give her a chance in the world," she rather whispers than speaks, disclosing two rows of small white teeth. She takes from the old man's hand the package, and disappears. The anxiety she evinces over the charge discloses the fact that there is something of deep interest connected with it.
Mr. McArthur was about to relate how he came by this seemingly worthless old package, when the property-man, becoming somewhat restless, and not holding in over high respect the old man's rubbish, as he called it in his thoughts, commences drawing forth, piece after piece of the old relics. The old man will not allow this. "There, young man!" he says, touching him on the elbow, and resuming his labor. At length he draws forth the dust-tenanted skull, coated on the outer surface with greasy mould. "There!" he says, with an unrestrained exclamation of joy, holding up the wasting bone, "this was in its time poor Yorick's skull. It was such a skull, when Yorick lived! Beneath this filthy remnant of past greatness (I always think of greatness when I turn to the past), this empty tenement, once the domain of wisdom, this poor bone, what thoughts did not come out?" And the old man shakes his head, mutters inarticulately, and weeps with the simplicity of a child.
"The Star'll have skulls and bones enough to make up for his want of talent now-I reckon," interposes the property-man. "But!—I say, mister, this skull couldn't a bin old Yorick's, you know—"
"Yorick's!—why not?" interrupts the old man.
"Because Yorick-Yorick was the King's jester, you see-no nigger; and no one would think of importing anything but a nigger's skull into Charleston—"
"Young man!—if this skull had consciousness; if this had a tongue it would rebuke thee;" the old man retorts hastily, "for my ancestors knew Yorick, and Yorick kept up an intimate acquaintance with the ancestors of the very first families in this State, who were not shoemakers and milliners, as hath been maliciously charged, but good and pious Huguenots." To the end that he may convince the unbelieving Thespian of the truth of his assertion, he commences to rub away the black coating with the sleeve of his coat, and there, to his infinite delight, is written, across the crown, in letters of red that stand out as bold as the State's chivalry—"Alas! poor Yorick." Tears of sympathy trickle down the old man's cheeks, his eyes sparkle with excitement, and with womanly accents he mutters: "the days of poetry and chivalry are gone. It is but a space of time since this good man's wit made Kings and Princes laugh with joy."
This skull, and a coral pin, which he said was presented to his ancestors by Lord Cornwallis, who they captured, now became his hobby; and he referred to it in all his conversation, and made them as much his idol as our politicians do secession. In this instance, he dare not entrust his newly-discovered jewel to the vulgar hands of Mr. Property, but pledged his honor-a ware the State deals largely in notwithstanding it has become exceedingly cheap-it would be forthcoming at the requisite time.
IN WHICH ARE MATTERS THE READER MAY HAVE ANTICIPATED.
MR. SOLOMAN SNIVEL has effected a reconciliation between old Judge Sleepyhorn and the beautiful Anna Bonard, and he has flattered the weak-minded George Mullholland into a belief that the old Judge, as he styles him, is his very best friend. So matters go on swimmingly at the house of Madame Flamingo. Indeed Mr. Soloman can make himself extremely useful in any affair requiring the exercise of nice diplomatic skill-no matter whether it be of love or law. He gets people into debt, and out of debt; into bankruptcy and out of bankruptcy; into jail and out of jail; into society and out of society. He has officiated in almost every capacity but that of a sexton. If you want money, Mr. Soloman can always arrange the little matter for you. If you have old negroes you want to get off your hands at a low figure, he has a customer. If you want to mortgage your negro property, a thing not uncommon with our very first families, Mr. Soloman is your man. Are you worth a fee, and want legal advice, he will give it exactly to your liking. Indeed, he will lie you into the most hopeless suit, and with equal pertinacity lie you out of the very best. Every judge is his friend and most intimate acquaintance. He is always rollicking, frisking, and insinuating himself into something, affects to be the most liberal sort of a companion, never refuses to drink when invited, but never invites any one unless he has a motive beyond friendship. Mr. Keepum, the wealthy lottery broker, who lives over the way, in Broad street, in the house with the mysterious signs, is his money-man. This Keepum, the man with the sharp visage and guilty countenance, has an excellent standing in society, having got it as the reward of killing two men. Neither of these deeds of heroism, however, were the result of a duel. Between these worthies there exists relations mutually profitable, if not the most honorable. And notwithstanding Mr. Soloman is forever sounding Mr. Keepum's generosity, the said Keepum has a singular faculty for holding with a firm grasp all he gets, the extent of his charities being a small mite now and then to Mr. Hadger, the very pious agent for the New York Presbyterian Tract Society. Mr. Hadger, who by trading in things called negroes, and such like wares, has become a man of great means, twice every year badgers the community in behalf of this society, and chuckles over what he gets of Keepum, as if a knave's money was a sure panacea for the cure of souls saved through the medium of those highly respectable tracts the society publishes to suit the tastes of the god slavery. Mr. Keepum, too, has a very high opinion of this excellent society, as he calls it, and never fails to boast of his contributions.
It is night. The serene and bright sky is hung with brighter stars. Our little fashionable world has got itself arrayed in its best satin-and is in a flutter. Carriages, with servants in snobby coats, beset the doors of the theatre. A flashing of silks, satins, brocades, tulle and jewelry, distinguished the throng pressing eagerly into the lobbies, and seeking with more confusion than grace seats in the dress circle. The orchestra has played an overture, and the house presents a lively picture of bright-colored robes. Mr. Snivel's handsome figure is seen looming out of a private box in the left-hand procenium, behind the curtain of which, and on the opposite side, a mysterious hand every now and then frisks, makes a small but prudent opening, and disappears. Again it appears, with delicate and chastely-jeweled fingers. Cautiously the red curtain moves aside apace, and the dark languishing eyes of a female, scanning over the dress-circle, are revealed. She recognizes the venerable figure of Judge Sleepyhorn, who has made a companion of George Mullholland, and sits at his side in the parquette. Timidly she closes the curtain.
In the right-hand procenium box sits, resplendent of jewels and laces, and surrounded by her many admirers, the beautiful and very fashionable Madame Montford, a woman of singularly regular features, and more than ordinary charms. Opinion is somewhat divided on the early history of Madame Montford. Some have it one thing, some another. Society is sure to slander a woman of transcendent beauty and intellect. There is nothing in the world more natural, especially when those charms attract fashionable admirers. It is equally true, too, that if you would wipe out any little taint that may hang about the skirts of your character you must seek the panacea in a distant State, where, with the application of a little diplomacy you may become the much sought for wonder of a new atmosphere and new friends, as is the case with Madame Montford, who rebukes her New York neighbors of the Fifth Avenue (she has a princely mansion there), with the fact that in Charleston she is, whenever she visits it, the all-absorbing topic with fashionable society. For four successive winters Madame Montford has honored the elite of Charleston with her presence. The advent of her coming, too, has been duly heralded in the morning papers-to the infinite delight of the St. Cecilia Society, which never fails to distinguish her arrival with a ball. And this ball is sure to be preceded with no end of delicately-perfumed cards, and other missives, as full of compliments as it is capable of cramming them. There is, notwithstanding all these ovations in honor of her coming, a mystery hanging over her periodical visits, for the sharp-eyed persist that they have seen her disguised, and in suspicious places; making singular inquiries about a woman of the name of Mag Munday. And these suspicions have given rise to whisperings, and these whisperings have crept into the ears of several very old and highly-respectable "first families," which said families have suddenly dropped her acquaintance. But what is more noticeable in the features of Madame Montford, is the striking similarity between them and Anna Bonard's. Her most fervent admirers have noticed it; while strangers have not failed to discover it, and to comment upon it. And the girl who sits in the box with Mr. Snivel, so cautiously fortifying herself with the curtain, is none other than Anna. Mr. Snivel has brought her here as an atonement for past injuries.
Just as the curtain is about to rise, Mr. McArthur, true to his word, may be seen toddling to the stage door, his treasure carefully tied up in a handkerchief. He will deliver it to no one but the manager, and in spite of his other duties that functionary is compelled to receive it in person. This done, the old man, to the merriment of certain wags who delight to speculate on his childlike credulity, takes a seat in the parquette, wipes clean his venerable spectacles, and placing them methodically over his eyes, forms a unique picture in the foreground of the audience. McArthur, with the aid of his glasses, can recognize objects at a distance; and as the Hamlet of the night is decidedly Teutonic in his appearance and pronunciation, he has no great relish for the Star, nor a hand of applause to bestow on his genius. Hamlet, he is sure, never articulated with a coarse brogue. So turning from the stage, he amuses himself with minutely scanning the faces of the audience, and resolving in his mind that something will turn up in the grave-digger's scene, of which he is an enthusiastic admirer. It is, indeed, he thinks to himself, very doubtful, whether in this wide world the much-abused William Shakspeare hath a more ardent admirer of this curious but faithful illustration of his genius. Suddenly his attention seems riveted on the private box, in which sits the stately figure of Madame Montford, flanked in a half-circle by her perfumed and white-gloved admirers. "What!" exclaims the old man, in surprise, rubbing and replacing his glasses, "if I'm not deceived! Well-I can't be. If there isn't the very woman, a little altered, who has several times looked into my little place of an evening. Her questions were so curious that I couldn't make out what she really wanted (she never bought anything); but she always ended with inquiring about poor Mag Munday. People think because I have all sorts of things, that I must know about all sorts of things. I never could tell her much that satisfied her, for Mag, report had it, was carried off by the yellow fever, and nobody ever thought of her afterwards. And because I couldn't tell this woman any more, she would go away with tears in her eyes." Mr. McArthur whispers to a friend on his right, and touches him on the arm, "Pooh! pooh!" returns the man, with measured indifference, "that's the reigning belle of the season-Madame Montford, the buxom widow, who has been just turned forty for some years."
The play proceeds, and soon the old man's attention is drawn from the Widow Montford by the near approach to the scene of the grave-digger. And as that delineator enters the grave, and commences his tune, the old man's anxiety increases.
A twitching and shrugging of the shoulders, discovers Mr. McArthur's feelings. The grave-digger, to the great delight of the Star, bespreads the stage with a multiplicity of bones. Then he follows them with a skull, the appearance of which causes Mr. McArthur to exclaim, "Ah! that's my poor Yorick." He rises from his seat, and abstractedly stares at the Star, then at the audience. The audience gives out a spontaneous burst of applause, which the Teutonic Hamlet is inclined to regard as an indignity offered to superior talent. A short pause and his face brightens with a smile, the grave-digger shoulders his pick, and with the thumb of his right hand to his nasal organ, throws himself into a comical attitude. The audience roar with delight; the Star, ignorant of the cause of what he esteems a continued insult, waves his plumes to the audience, and with an air of contempt walks off the stage.
MRS. SWIGGS COMES TO THE RESCUE OF THE HOUSE OF THE FOREIGN MISSIONS.
"AN excellent society-excellent, I assure you, Madame—"
"Truly, Mr. Hadger," interrupted Mrs. Swiggs, "your labors on behalf of this Tract Society will be rewarded in heaven—"
"Dear—a—me," Mr. Hadger returns, ere Mrs. Swiggs can finish her sentence, "don't mention such a thing. I assure you it is a labor of love."
"Their tracts are so carefully got up. If my poor old negro property could only read—(Mrs. Swiggs pauses.) I was going to say-if it wasn't for the law (again she pauses), we couldn't prejudice our cause by letting our negroes read them—"
"Excuse the interruption," Mr. Hadger says, "but it wouldn't do, notwithstanding (no one can be more liberal than myself on the subject of enlightening our negro property!) the Tract Society exhibits such an unexceptionable regard to the requirements of our cherished institution."
This conversation passes between Mrs. Swiggs and Mr. Hadger, who, as he says with great urbanity of manner, just dropped in to announce joyous tidings. He has a letter from Sister Abijah Slocum, which came to hand this morning, enclosing one delicately enveloped for Sister Swiggs. "The Lord is our guide," says Mrs. Swiggs, hastily reaching out her hand and receiving the letter. "Heaven will reward her for the interest she takes in the heathen world."
"Truly, if she hath not now, she will have there a monument of gold," Mr. Hadger piously pursues, adding a sigh.
"There! there!—my neuralgy; it's all down my left side. I'm not long for this world, you see!" Mrs. Swiggs breaks out suddenly, then twitches her head and oscillates her chin. And as if some electric current had changed the train of her thoughts, she testily seizes hold of her Milton, and says: "I have got my Tom up again-yes I have, Mr. Hadger."
Mr. Hadger discovers the sudden flight her thoughts have taken: "I am sure," he interposes, "that so long as Sister Slocum remains a member of the Tract Society we may continue our patronage."
Mrs. Swiggs is pleased to remind Mr. Hadger, that although her means have been exceedingly narrowed down, she has not, for the last ten years, failed to give her mite, which she divides between the house of the "Foreign Missions," and the "Tract Society."
A nice, smooth-faced man, somewhat clerically dressed, straight and portly of person, and most unexceptionable in his morals, is Mr. Hadger. A smile of Christian resignation and brotherly love happily ornaments his countenance; and then, there is something venerable about his nicely-combed gray whiskers, his white cravat, his snowy hair, his mild brown eyes, and his pleasing voice. One is almost constrained to receive him as the ideal of virtue absolved in sackcloth and ashes. As an evidence of our generosity, we regard him an excellent Christian, whose life hath been purified with an immense traffic in human—(perhaps some good friend will crack our skull for saying it).
In truth (though we never could find a solution in the Bible for it), as the traffic in human property increased Mr. Hadger's riches, so also did it in a corresponding ratio increase his piety. There is, indeed, a singular connection existing between piety and slavery; but to analyze it properly requires the mind of a philosopher, so strange is the blending.
Brother Hadger takes a sup of ice-water, and commences reading Sister Slocum's letter, which runs thus: "NEW YORK, May -, 1850. "DEAR BROTHER HADGER:
"Justice and Mercy is the motto of the cause we have lent our hands and hearts to promote. Only yesterday we had a gathering of kind spirits at the Mission House in Centre street, where, thank God, all was peace and love. We had, too, an anxious gathering at the 'Tract Society's rooms.' There it was not so much peace and love as could have been desired. Brother Bight seemed earnest, but said many unwise things; and Brother Scratch let out some very unwise indiscretions which you will find in the reports I send. There was some excitement, and something said about what we got from the South not being of God's chosen earnings. And there was something more let off by our indiscreet Brothers against the getting up of the tracts. But we had a majority, and voted down our indiscreet Brothers, inasmuch as it was shown to be necessary not to offend our good friends in the South. Not to give offence to a Brother is good in the sight of the Lord, and this Brother Primrose argued in a most Christian speech of four long hours or more, and which had the effect of convincing every one how necessary it was to free the tracts of everything offensive to your cherished institution. And though we did not, Brother Hadger, break up in the continuance of that love we were wont to when you were among us, we sustained the principle that seemeth most acceptable to you-we gained the victory over our disaffected Brothers. And I am desired on behalf of the Society, to thank you for the handsome remittance, hoping you will make it known, through peace and love, to those who kindly contributed toward it. The Board of 'Foreign Missions,' as you will see by the report, also passed a vote of thanks for your favor. How grateful to think what one will do to enlighten the heathen world, and how many will receive a tract through the medium of the other.
"We are now in want of a few thousand dollars, to get the Rev. Singleton Spyke, a most excellent person, off to Antioch. Aid us with a mite, Brother Hadger, for his mission is one of God's own. The enclosed letter is an appeal to Sister Swiggs, whose yearly mites have gone far, very far, to aid us in the good but mighty work now to be done. Sister Swiggs will have her reward in heaven for these her good gifts. How thankful should she be to Him who provides all things, and thus enableth her to bestow liberally.
"And now, Brother, I must say adieu! May you continue to live in the spirit of Christian love. And may you never feel the want of these mites bestowed in the cause of the poor heathen. "SISTER ABIJAH SLOCUM."
"May the good be comforted!" ejaculates Mrs. Swiggs, as Mr. Hadger concludes. She has listened with absorbed attention to every word, at times bowing, and adding a word of approval. Mr. Hadger hopes something may be done in this good cause, and having interchanged sundry compliments, takes his departure, old Rebecca opening the door.
"Glad he's gone!" the old lady says to herself. "I am so anxious to hear the good tidings Sister Slocum's letter conveys." She wipes and wipes her venerable spectacles, adjusts them piquantly over her small, wicked eyes, gives her elaborate cap-border a twitch forward, frets her finger nervously over the letter, and gets herself into a general state of confritteration. "There!" she says, entirely forgetting her Milton, which has fallen on the floor, to the great satisfaction of the worthy old cat, who makes manifest his regard for it by coiling himself down beside it, "God bless her. It makes my heart leap with joy when I see her writing," she pursues, as old Rebecca stands contemplating her, with serious and sullen countenance. Having prilled and fussed over the letter, she commences reading in a half whisper: "NO. -, 4TH AVENUE, NEW YORK, May -, 1850. "MUCH BELOVED SISTER:
"I am, as you know, always overwhelmed with business; and having hoped the Lord in his goodness yet spares you to us, and gives you health and bounty wherewith to do good, must be pardoned for my brevity. The Lord prospers our missions among the heathen, and the Tract Society continues to make its labors known throughout the country. It, as you will see by the tracts I send here—with, still continues that scrupulous regard to the character of your domestic institution which has hitherto characterized it. Nothing is permitted to creep into them that in any way relates to your domestics, or that can give pain to the delicate sensibilities of your very excellent and generous people. We would do good to all without giving pain to any one. Oh! Sister, you know what a wicked world this is, and how it becomes us to labor for the good of others. But what is this world compared with the darkness of the heathen world, and those poor wretches ('Sure enough!' says Mrs. Swiggs) who eat one another, never have heard of a God, and prefer rather to worship idols of wood and stone. When I contemplate this dreadful darkness, which I do night and day, day and night, I invoke the Spirit to give me renewed strength to go forward in the good work of bringing from darkness ('Just as I feel,' thinks Mrs. Swiggs) unto light those poor benighted wretches of the heathen world. How often I have wished you could be here with us, to add life and spirit to our cause-to aid us in beating down Satan, and when we have got him down not to let him up. The heathen world never will be what it should be until Satan is bankrupt, deprived of his arts, and chained to the post of humiliation-never! ('I wish I had him where my Tom is!' Mrs. Swiggs mutters to herself.) Do come on here, Sister. We will give you an excellent reception, and make you so happy while you sojourn among us. And now, Sister, having never appealed to you in vain, we again extend our hand, hoping you will favor the several very excellent projects we now have on hand. First, we have a project-a very excellent one, on hand, for evangelizing the world; second, in consideration of what has been done in the reign of the Seven Churches-Pergamos Thyatira, Magnesia, Cassaba, Demish, and Baindir, where all is darkness, we have conceived a mission to Antioch; and third, we have been earnestly engaged in, and have spent a few thousand dollars over a project of the 'Tract Society,' which is the getting up of no less than one or two million of their excellent tracts, for the Dahomy field of missionary labor-such as the Egba mission, the Yoruba mission, and the Ijebu missions. Oh! Sister, what a field of labor is here open to us. And what a source of joy and thankfulness it should be to us that we have the means to labor in those fields of darkness. We have selected brother Singleton Spyke, a young man of great promise, for this all-important mission to Antioch. He has been for the last four years growing in grace and wisdom. No expense has been spared in everything necessary to his perfection, not even in the selection of a partner suited to his prospects and future happiness. We now want a few thousand dollars to make up the sum requisite to his mission, and pay the expenses of getting him off. Come to our assistance, dear Sister-do come! Share with us your mite in this great work of enlightening the heathen, and know that your deeds are recorded in heaven. ('Verily!' says the old lady.) And now, hoping the Giver of all good will continue to favor you with His blessing, and preserve you in that strength of intellect with which you have so often assisted us in beating down Satan, and hoping either to have the pleasure of seeing you, or hearing from you soon, I will say adieu! subscribing myself a servant in the cause of the heathen, and your sincere Sister, "MRS. ABIJAH SLOCUM.
"P.S.—Remember, dear Sister, that the amount of money expended in idol-worship—in erecting monster temples and keeping them in repair, would provide comfortable homes and missions for hundreds of our very excellent young men and women, who are now ready to buckle on the armor and enter the fight against Satan. "A.S."
"Dear-a-me," she sighs, laying the letter upon the table, kicking the cat as she resumes her rocking, and with her right hand restoring her Milton to its accustomed place on the table. "Rebecca," she says, "will get a pillow and place it nicely at my back." Rebecca, the old slave, brings the pillow. "There, there! now, not too high, nor too low, Rebecca!" her thin, sharp voice echoes, as she works her shoulders, and permits her long fingers to wander over her cap-border. "When 'um got just so missus like, say-da he is!" mumbles the old negress in reply. "Well, well-a little that side, now—" The negress moves the pillow a little to the left. "That's too much, Rebecca-a slight touch the other way. You are so stupid, I will have to sell you, and get Jewel to take care of me. I would have done it before but for the noise of her crutch-I would, Rebecca! You never think of me-you only think of how much hominy you can eat." The old negress makes a motion to move the pillow a little to the right, when Mrs. Swiggs settles her head and shoulders into it, saying, "there!"
"Glad 'um suit-fo'h true!" retorts the negress, her heavy lips and sullen face giving out the very incarnation of hatred.
"Now don't make a noise when you go out." Rebecca in reply says she is "gwine down to da kitchen to see Isaac," and toddles out of the room, gently closing the door after her.
Resignedly Mrs. Swiggs closes her eyes, moderates her rocking, and commences evolving and revolving the subject over in her mind. "I haven't much of this world's goods-no, I haven't; but I'm of a good family, and its name for hospitality must be kept up. Don't see that I can keep it up better than by helping Sister Slocum and the Tract Society out," she muses. But the exact way to effect this has not yet come clear to her mind. Times are rather hard, and, as we have said before, she is in straightened circumstances, having, for something more than ten years, had nothing but the earnings of eleven old negroes, five of whom are cripples, to keep up the dignity of the house of the Swiggs. "There's old Zeff," she says, "has took to drinking, and Flame, his wife, ain't a bit better; and neither one of them have been worth anything since I sold their two children-which I had to do, or let the dignity of the family suffer. I don't like to do it, but I must. I must send Zeff to the workhouse-have him nicely whipped, I only charge him eighteen dollars a month for himself, and yet he will drink, and won't pay over his wages. Yes!—he shall have it. The extent of the law, well laid on, will learn him a lesson. There's old Cato pays me twenty dollars a month, and Cato's seventy-four-four years older than Zeff. In truth, my negro property is all getting careless about paying wages. Old Trot runs away whenever he can get a chance; Brutus has forever got something the matter with him; and Cicero has come to be a real skulk. He don't care for the cowhide; the more I get him flogged the worse he gets. Curious creature! And his old woman, since she broke her leg, and goes with a crutch, thinks she can do just as she pleases. There is plenty of work in her-plenty; she has no disposition to let it come out, though! And she has kept up a grumbling ever since I sold her girls. Well, I didn't want to keep them all the time at the whipping-post; so I sold them to save their characters." Thus Mrs. Swiggs muses until she drops into a profound sleep, in which she remains, dreaming that she has sold old Mumma Molly, Cicero's wife, and with the proceeds finds herself in New York, hob-nobbing it with Sister Slocum, and making one extensive donation to the Tract Society, and another to the fund for getting Brother Singleton Spyke off to Antioch. Her arrival in Gotham, she dreams, is a great event. The Tract Society (she is its guest) is smothering her with its attentions. Indeed, a whole column and a half of the very conservative and highly respectable old Observer is taken up with an elaborate and well-written history of her many virtues.
The venerable old lady dreams herself into dusky evening, and wakes to find old Rebecca summoning her to tea. She is exceedingly sorry the old slave disturbed her. However, having great faith in dreams, and the one she has just enjoyed bringing the way to aid Sister Slocum in carrying out her projects of love so clear to her mind, she is resolved to lose no time in carrying out its principles. Selling old Molly won't be much; old Molly is not worth much to her; and the price of old Molly (she'll bring something!) will do so much to enlighten the heathen, and aid the Tract Society in giving out its excellent works. "And I have for years longed to see Sister Slocum, face to face, before I die," she says. And with an affixed determination to carry out this pious resolve, Mrs. Swiggs sips her tea, and retires to her dingy little chamber for the night.
A bright and cheerful sun ushers in the following morning. The soft rays steal in at the snuffy door, at the dilapidated windows, through the faded curtains, and into the "best parlor," where, at an early hour, sits the antique old lady, rummaging over some musty old papers piled on the centre-table. The pale light plays over and gives to her features a spectre-like hue; while the grotesque pieces of furniture by which she is surrounded lend their aid in making complete the picture of a wizard's abode. The paper she wants is nowhere to be found. "I must exercise a little judgment in this affair," she mutters, folding a bit of paper, and seizing her pen. Having written—"TO THE MASTER OF THE WORKHOUSE:
"I am sorry I have to trouble you so often with old Cicero. He will not pay wages all I can do. Give him at least thirty-well laid on. I go to New York in a few days, and what is due you from me for punishments will be paid any time you send your bill. "SARAH PRINGLE HUGHES SWIGGS."
"Well! he deserves what he gets," she shakes her head and ejaculates. Having summoned Rebecca, Master Cicero, a hard-featured old negro, is ordered up, and comes tottering into the room, half-bent with age, his hair silvered, and his face covered with a mossy-white beard-the picture of a patriarch carved in ebony. "Good mornin', Missus," he speaks in a feeble and husky voice, standing hesitatingly before his august owner. "You are—well, I might as well say it—you're a miserable old wretch!" Cicero makes a nervous motion with his left hand, as the fingers of his right wander over the bald crown of his head, and his eyes give out a forlorn look. She has no pity for the poor old man-none. "You are, Cicero-you needn't pretend you ain't," she pursues; and springing to her feet with an incredible nimbleness, she advances to the window, tucks up the old curtain, and says, "There; let the light reflect on your face. Badness looks out of it. Cicero! you never was a good nigger—"
"Per'aps not, Missus; but den I'se old.
"Old! you ain't so old but you can pay wages," the testy old woman interrupts, tossing her head. "You're a capital hand at cunning excuses. This will get you done for, at the workhouse." She hands him a delicately enveloped and carefully superscribed billet, and commands him to proceed forthwith to the workhouse. A tear courses slowly down his time-wrinkled face, he hesitates, would speak one word in his own defence. But the word of his owner is absolute, and in obedience to the wave of her hand he totters to the door, and disappears. His tears are only those of a slave. How useless fall the tears of him who has no voice, no power to assert his manhood! And yet, in that shrunken bosom-in that figure, bent and shattered of age, there burns a passion for liberty and hatred of the oppressor more terrible than the hand that has made him the wretch he is. That tear! how forcibly it tells the tale of his sorrowing soul; how eloquently it foretells the downfall of that injustice holding him in its fierce chains!
Cicero has been nicely got out of the way. Molly, his wife, is summoned into the presence of her mistress, to receive her awful doom. "To be frank with you, Molly, and I am always outspoken, you know, I am going to sell you. We have been long enough together, and necessity at this moment forces me to this conclusion," says our venerable lady, addressing herself to the old slave, who stands before her, leaning on her crutch, for she is one of the cripples. "You will get a pious owner, I trust; and God will be merciful to you."
The old slave of seventy years replies only with an expression of hate in her countenance, and a drooping of her heavy lip. "Now," Mrs. Swiggs pursues, "take this letter, go straight to Mr. Forcheu with it, and he will sell you. He is very kind in selling old people-very!" Molly inquires if Cicero may go. Mrs. Swiggs replies that nobody will buy two old people together.
The slave of seventy years, knowing her entreaties will be in vain, approaches her mistress with the fervency of a child, and grasping warmly her hand, stammers out: "Da-da-dah Lord bless um, Missus. Tan't many days fo'h we meet in t'oder world-good-bye."
"God bless you-good-bye, Molly. Remember what I have told you so many times-long suffering and forbearance make the true Christian. Be a Christian-seek to serve your Master faithfully; such the Scripture teacheth. Now tie your handkerchief nicely on your head, and get your clean apron on, and mind to look good-natured when Mr. Forcheu sells you." This admonition, methodically addressed to the old slave, and Mrs. Swiggs waves her hand, resumes her Milton, and settles herself back into her chair. Reader! if you have a heart in the right place it will be needless for us to dwell upon the feelings of that old slave, as she drags her infirm body to the shambles of the extremely kind vender of people.
MR. M'ARTHUR MAKES A DISCOVERY.
ON his return from the theatre, Mr. McArthur finds his daughter, Maria, waiting him in great anxiety. "Father, father!" she says, as he enters his little back parlor, "this is what that poor woman, Mag Munday, used to take on so about; here it is." She advances, her countenance wearing an air of great solicitude, holds the old dress in her left hand, and a stained letter in her right. "It fell from a pocket in the bosom," she pursues. The old man, with an expression of surprise, takes the letter and prepares to read it. He pauses. "Did it come from the dress I discovered in the old chest?" he inquires, adjusting his spectacles. Maria says it did. She has no doubt it might have relieved her suffering, if it had been found before she died. "But, father, was there not to you something strange, something mysterious about the manner she pursued her search for this old dress? You remember how she used to insist that it contained something that might be a fortune to her in her distress, and how there was a history connected with it that would not reflect much credit on a lady in high life!"
The old man interrupts by saying he well remembers it; remembers how he thought she was a maniac to set so much value on the old dress, and make so many sighs when it could not be found. "It always occurred to me there was something more than the dress that made her take on so," the old man concludes, returning the letter to Maria, with a request that she will read it. Maria resumes her seat, the old man draws a chair to the table, and with his face supported in his left hand listens attentively as she reads: "WASHINGTON SQUARE, NEW YORK, May 14, 18—
"I am glad to hear from Mr. Sildon that the child does well. Poor little thing, it gives me so many unhappy thoughts when I think of it; but I know you are a good woman, Mrs. Munday, and will watch her with the care of a mother. She was left at our door one night, and as people are always too ready to give currency to scandal, my brother and I thought that it would not be prudent to adopt it at once, more especially as I have been ill for the last few months, and have any quantity of enemies. I am going to close my house, now that my deceased husband's estate is settled, and spend a few years in Europe. Mr. Thomas Sildon is well provided with funds for the care of the child during my absence, and will pay you a hundred dollars every quarter. Let no one see this letter, not even your husband. And when I return I will give you an extra remuneration, and adopt the child as my own. Mr. Sildon will tell you where to find me when I return. Your friend, "C. A. M."
"There, father," says Maria, "there is something more than we know about, connected with this letter. One thing always discovers another-don't you think it may have something to do with that lady who has two or three times come in here, and always appeared so nervous when she inquired about Mag Munday? and you recollect how she would not be content until we had told her a thousand different things concerning her. She wanted, she said, a clue to her; but she never could get a clue to her. There is something more than we know of connected with this letter," and she lays the old damp stained and crumpled letter on the table, as the old servant enters bearing on a small tray their humble supper.
"Now, sit up, my daughter," says the old man, helping her to a sandwich while she pours out his dish of tea, "our enjoyment need be none the less because our fare is humble. As for satisfying this lady about Mag Munday, why, I have given that up. I told her all I knew, and that is, that when she first came to Charleston-one never knows what these New Yorkers are—she was a dashing sort of woman, had no end of admirers, and lived in fine style. Then it got out that she wasn't the wife of the man who came with her, but that she was the wife of a poor man of the name of Munday, and had quit her husband; as wives will when they take a notion in their heads. And as is always the way with these sort of people, she kept gradually getting down in the world, and as she kept getting more and more down so she took more and more to drink, and drink brought on grief, and grief soon wasted her into the grave. I took pity on her, for she seemed not a bad woman at heart, and always said she was forced by necessity into the house of Madame Flamingo-a house that hurries many a poor creature to her ruin. And she seemed possessed of a sense of honor not common to these people; and when Madame Flamingo turned her into the street,—as she does every one she has succeeded in making a wretch of,—and she could find no one to take her in, and had nowhere to lay her poor head, as she used to say, I used to lend her little amounts, which she always managed somehow to repay. As to there being anything valuable in the dress, I never gave it a thought; and when she would say if she could have restored to her the dress, and manage to get money enough to get to New York, I thought it was only the result of her sadness."
"You may remember, father," interrupts Maria, "she twice spoke of a child left in her charge; and that the child was got away from her. If she could only trace that poor child, she would say, or find out what had become of it, she could forget her own sufferings and die easy. But the thought of what had become of that child forever haunted her; she knew that unless she atoned in some way the devil would surely get her." The old man says, setting down his cup, it all comes fresh to his mind. Mr. Soloman (he has not a doubt) could let some light upon the subject; and, as he seems acquainted with the lady that takes so much interest in what became of the woman Munday, he may relieve her search. "I am sure she is dead, nevertheless; I say this, knowing that having no home she got upon the Neck, and then associated with the negroes; and the last I heard of her was that the fever carried her off. This must have been true, or else she had been back here pleading for the bundles we could not find." Thus saying, Mr. McArthur finishes his humble supper, kisses and fondles his daughter, whom he dotingly loves, and retires for the night.
WHAT MADAME FLAMINGO WANTS TO BE.
TOM SWIGGS has enjoyed, to the evident satisfaction of his mother, a seven months' residence in the old prison. The very first families continue to pay their respects to the good old lady, and she in return daily honors them with mementoes of her remembrance. These little civilities, exchanging between the stately old lady and our first families, indicate the approach of the fashionable season. Indeed, we may as well tell you the fashionable season is commencing in right good earnest. Our elite are at home, speculations are rife as to what the "Jockey Club" will do, we are recounting our adventures at northern watering-places, chuckling over our heroism in putting down those who were unwise enough to speak disrespectful of our cherished institutions, and making very light of what we would do to the whole north. You may know, too, that our fashionable season is commenced by what is taking place at the house of Madame Flamingo on the one side, and the St. Cecilia on the other. We recognize these establishments as institutions. That they form the great fortifications of fashionable society, flanking it at either extreme, no one here doubts.
We are extremely sensitive of two things-fashion, and our right to sell negroes. Without the former we should be at sea; without the latter, our existence would indeed be humble. The St. Cecilia Society inaugurates the fashionable season, the erudite Editor of the Courier will tell you, with an entertainment given to the elite of its members and a few very distinguished foreigners. Madame Flamingo opens her forts, at the same time, with a grand supper, which she styles a very select entertainment, and to which she invites none but "those of the highest standing in society." If you would like to see what sort of a supper she sets to inaugurate the fashionable season, take our arm for a few minutes.
Having just arrived from New York, where she has been luxuriating and selecting her wares for the coming season, (New York is the fountain ejecting its vice over this Union,) Madame looks hale, hearty, and exceedingly cheerful. Nor has she spared any expense to make herself up with becoming youthfulness-as the common people have it. She has got her a lace cap of the latest fashion, with great broad striped blue and red strings; and her dress is of orange- colored brocade, trimmed with tulle, and looped with white blossoms. Down the stomacher it is set with jewels. Her figure seems more embonpoint than when we last saw her; and as she leans on the arm of old Judge Sleepyhorn, forms a striking contrast to the slender figure of that singular specimen of judicial infirmity. Two great doors are opened, and Madame leads the way into what she calls her upper and private parlor, a hall of some fifty feet by thirty, in the centre of which a sumptuously-decorated table is set out. Indeed there is a chasteness and richness about the furniture and works of art that decorate this apartment, singularly at variance with the bright-colored furniture of the room we have described in a former chapter. "Ladies and gentlemen!" ejaculates the old hostess, "imagine this a palace, in which you are all welcome. As the legal gentry say (she casts a glance at the old Judge), when you have satisfactorily imagined that, imagine me a princess, and address me—"
"High ho!" interrupts Mr. Soloman.
"I confess," continues the old woman, her little, light-brown curls dangling across her brow, and her face crimsoning, "I would like to be a princess."
"You can," rejoins the former speaker, his fingers wandering to his chin.
"Well! I have my beadle-beadles, I take, are inseparable from royal blood-and my servants in liveries. After all (she tosses her head) what can there be in beadles and liveries? Why! the commonest and vulgarest people of New York have taken to liveries. If you chance to take an elegant drive up the 'Fifth Avenue,' and meet a dashing equipage-say with horses terribly caparisoned, a purloined crest on the carriage-door, a sallow-faced footman covered up in a green coat, all over big brass buttons, stuck up behind, and a whiskey-faced coachman half-asleep in a great hammercloth, be sure it belongs to some snob who has not a sentence of good English in his head. Yes! perhaps a soap-chandler, an oil-dealer, or a candy-maker. Brainless people always creep into plush-always! People of taste and learning, like me, only are entitled to liveries and crests." This Madame says, inviting her guests to take seats at her banquet-table, at the head of which she stands, the Judge on her right, Mr. Soloman on her left. Her china is of the most elaborate description, embossed and gilt; her plate is of pure silver, and massive; she has vases and candelabras of the same metal; and her cutlery is of the most costly description. No house in the country can boast a more exact taste in their selection. At each plate a silver holder stands, bearing a bouquet of delicately-arranged flowers. A trellise of choice flowers, interspersed here and there with gorgeous bouquets in porcelain vases, range along the centre of the table; which presents the appearance of a bed of fresh flowers variegated with delicious fruits. Her guests are to her choicer than her fruits; her fruits are choicer than her female wares. No entertainment of this kind would be complete without Judge Sleepyhorn and Mr. Soloman. They countenance vice in its most insidious form-they foster crime; without crime their trade would be damaged. The one cultivates, that the other may reap the harvest and maintain his office.
"I see," says Mr. Soloman, in reply to the old hostess, "not the slightest objection to your being a princess-not the slightest! And, to be frank about the matter, I know of no one who would better ornament the position."
"Your compliments are too liberally bestowed, Mr. Soloman."
"Not at all! 'Pon my honor, now, there is a chance for you to bring that thing about in a very short time. There is Grouski, the Polish exile, a prince of pure blood. Grouski is poor, wants to get back to Europe. He wants a wife, too. Grouski is a high old fellow-a most celebrated man, fought like a hero for the freedom of his country; and though an exile here, would be received with all the honors due to a prince in either Italy, France or England.
"A very respectable gentleman, no doubt; but a prince of pure blood, Mr. Soloman, is rather a scarce article these days."
"Not a bit of it-why there is lots of exiled Princes all over this country. They are modest men, you know, like me; and having got it into their heads that we don't like royal blood, rather keep the fact of their birth to themselves. As for Grouski! why his history is as familiar to every American who takes any interest in these things, as is the history of poor Kossuth. I only say this, Madame Flamingo, to prove to you that Grouski is none of your mock articles. And what is more, I have several times heard him speak most enthusiastically of you."
"Of me!" interrupts the old hostess, blushing. "I respect Grouski, and the more so for his being a poor prince in exile." Madame orders her servants, who are screwed into bright liveries, to bring on some sparkling Moselle. This done, and the glasses filled with the sparkling beverage, Mr. Soloman rises to propose a toast; although, as he says, it is somewhat out of place, two rounds having only succeeded the soup: "I propose the health of our generous host, to whom we owe so much for the superb manner in which she has catered for our amusement. Here's that we may speedily have the pleasure of paying our respects to her as the Princess Grouski." Madame Flamingo bows, the toast is drunk with cheers, and she begins to think there is something in it after all.
"Make as light of it as you please, ladies and gentlemen-many stranger things have come to pass. As for the exile, Grouski, I always esteemed him a very excellent gentleman."
"Exactly!" interposes the Judge, tipping his glass, and preparing his appetite for the course of game-broiled partridges, rice-birds, and grouse-which is being served by the waiters. "No one more worthy," he pursues, wiping his sleepy face with his napkin, "of being a princess. Education, wealth, and taste, you have; and with Grouski, there is nothing to prevent the happy consummation-nothing! I beg to assure you." Madame Flamingo makes a most courteous bow, and with an air of great dignity condescends to say she hopes gentlemen of the highest standing in Charleston have for ten years or more had the strongest proofs of her ability to administer the offices of a lady of station. "But you know," she pursues, hoping ladies and gentlemen will be kind enough to keep their glasses full, "people are become so pious now-a-days that they are foolish enough to attach a stigma to our business."
"Pooh, pooh!" interrupts the accommodation man, having raised his glass in compliment to a painted harlot. "Once in Europe, and under the shadow of the wife of Prince Grouski, the past would be wiped out; your money would win admirers, while your being a princess would make fashionable society your tool. The very atmosphere of princesses is full of taint; but it is sunk in the rank, and rather increases courtiers. In France your untainted princess would prognosticate the second coming of—, well, I will not profane."