HOPE BLOSSOMS OUT

The half insensible form of Amy was borne by Jake into the cabin, and
laid upon the cot which had been Aunt Polly’s. He then closed and
secured the door after him.

Where, all this time, was Miss Bradly? She, in her terror, had buried
her head upon the bed, on which young master still slept. She tried to
drown the sound of those frantic cries that reached her, despite the
closed door and barred shutter. Oh, did they not reach the ear of
Almighty love?

“Well, I am glad,” exclaimed Miss Tildy, “that it is all over. Somehow,
Jane, I did not like the sound of those young children’s cries. Might it
not have been well to let Amy go too?”

“No, of course not. Now that Lindy has been sold, we need a house-girl,
and Amy may be made a very good one; besides, she enraged me so by
attempting to spoil the sale of Ben.”

“Did she do that? Oh, well, I have no pity for her.”

“It would be something very new, Till, for you to pity a nigger.”

“So it would–yet I was weak enough to feel badly when I heard the
children scream.”

“Oh, you are only nervous.”

“I believe I am, and think I will take some medicine.”

“Take medicine,” to stifle human pity!

“What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug would scour” the
slaveholder’s nature of harshness and brutality? Could this be found,
“I would applaud to the very echo, that should applaud again;” but,
alas! there is no remedy for it. Education has taught many of them to
guard their “beloved institution” with a sort of patriotic fervor and
religious zeal.

When master returned that evening, he was elated to a wonderful degree.
Tompkins had paid him a large sum in ready cash, and this put him in a
good humor with himself and everybody else. He almost felt kindly toward
the negroes. But I looked upon him with more than my usual horror. That
great, bloated face, blazing now with joy and the effect of strong
drink, was revolting to me. Every expression of delight from his lips
brought to my mind the horrid troubles he had caused by the simple
exercise of his tyrannic will upon helpless women and children. The
humble appearance of Ginsy, the touching innocence of her child, the
unnoticed silent grief of Lindy, the fearful, heart-rending distraction
of Amy, the agony of her helpless sisters and brother, all rose to my
mind when I heard Mr. Peterkin’s mirthful laugh ringing through the
house.

Late in the evening young master roused up. The effect of the somnolent
draught had died out, and he woke in full possession of his faculties.
Miss Bradly and I were with him when he woke. Raising himself quickly in
the bed, he asked,

“What hour is it?”

“About half-past six,” said Miss Bradly.

“So late? Then am I afraid that all is over! Where is Lindy?”

“Try and rest a little more; then we can talk!”

“No, I must know _now_.”

“Wait a while longer.”

“Tell me instantly,” he said with a nervous impatience very unusual to
him.

“Drink this, and I will then talk to you,” said Miss Bradly, as she held
a cordial to his lips.

Obediently he swallowed it, and, as he returned the glass, he asked,

“How has this wretched matter terminated? What has become of that
unfortunate girl?”

“She has been sold.”

“To the trader?”

“Yes, but don’t talk about it; perhaps she is better off than we think.”

“Is it wise for us thus to silence our sympathies?”

“Yes, it is, when we are powerless to act.”

“But have we not, each of us, an influence?”

“Yes, but in such a dubious way, that in cases like the present, we had
better not openly manifest it.”

“Offensive we should never be; but surely we ought to assume a defensive
position.”

“Yes, but you must not excite yourself.”

“Don’t think of me. Already I fear I am too self-indulged. Too much time
I have wasted in inaction.”

“What could you have done? And now what can you do?”

“That is the very question that agitates me. Oh, that I knew my mission,
and had the power to fulfil it!”

“Who of the others are sold?” he asked, turning to me.

“Amy’s sisters and brother,” and I could not avoid tears.

“Amy, too?”

“No, sir.”

“Oh, God, this is too bad! and is she not half-distracted?”

I made no reply, for an admonitory look from Miss Bradly warned me to be
careful as to what I said.

“Where is father?”

“In his chamber.”

“Ann, go tell him I wish to speak with him.”

Before obeying I looked toward Miss Bradly, and, finding nothing adverse
in her expression, I went to do as he bade.

“Is he any worse?” master asked, when I had delivered the message.

“No, sir; he does not appear to be worse, yet I think he is very
feeble.”

“What right has you to think anything ’bout it?” he said, as he took
from the mantle a large, black bottle and drank from it.

I made no reply, but followed him into young master’s room, and
pretended to busy myself about some trifling matter.

“What is it you want, Johnny?”

“Father, you have done a wicked thing!”

“What do you mean, boy?”

“You have sold Amy’s sisters and brothers away from her.”

“And what’s wicked in selling a nigger?”

“Hasn’t a negro human feeling?”

“Why, they don’t feel like white people; of course not.”

“That must be proved, father.”

“Oh, now, my boy, ‘taint no use for yer to be wastin’ of yer good
feelin’s on them miserable, ongrateful niggers.”

“They are not ungrateful; miserable they are, for they have had much
misery imposed upon them.”

“Oh, ‘taint no use of talking ’bout it, child, go to sleep.”

“Yes, father, I shall soon sleep soundly enough, in our graveyard.”

Mr. Peterkin moved nervously in his chair, and young master continued,

“I do not wish to live longer. I can do no good here, and the sight of
so much misery only makes me more wretched. Father, draw close to me, I
have lost a great deal of blood. My chest and throat are very sore. I
feel that the tide of life ebbs low. I am going fast. My little hour
upon earth is almost spent. Ere long, the great mystery of existence
will be known to me. A cold shadow, with death-dews on its form, hovers
round me. I know, by many signs unknown to others, that death is now
upon me. This difficult and labored speech, this failing breath and
filmy eye, these heavy night-sweats–all tell me that the golden bowl is
about to be broken: the silver cord is tightened to its utmost tension.
I am young, father; I have forborne to speak to you upon a subject that
has lain near, near, very near my heart.” A violent paroxysm of coughing
here interrupted him. Instantly Miss Bradly was beside him with a
cordial, which he drank mechanically. “There,” he continued, as he
poised himself upon his elbow, “there, good Miss Emily, cordials are of
no avail. I do not wish to stay. Father, do you not want me to rest
quietly in my grave?”

“I don’t want you to go to the grave at all, my boy, my boy,” and Mr.
Peterkin burst into tears.

“Yes, but, father, I am going there fast, and no human power can stay
me. I shall be happy and resigned, if I can elicit from you one
promise.”

“What promise is that?”

“Liberate your slaves.”

“Never!”

“Look at me, father.”

“Good God!” cried Mr. Peterkin, as his eye met the calm, clear, fixed
gaze of his son, “where did you get that look? heaven and h–l! it will
kill me;” and, rushing from the room, he sought his own apartment, where
he drank long and deeply from the black bottle that graced his
mantel-shelf. This was his drop of comfort. Always after lashing a
negro, he drank plentifully, as if to drown his conscience. Alas! many
another man has sought relief from memory by such libations! Yet these
are the voters, the noblesse, the lords so superior to the lowly
African. These are the men who vote for a perpetuation of our captivity.
Can we hope for a mitigation of our wrongs when such men are our
sovereigns? Cool, clear-visioned men are few, noble philanthropic ones
are fewer. What then have we to hope for? Our interests are at war with
old established usages. The prejudices of society are against us. The
pride of the many is adverse to us. All this we have to fight against;
and strong must be the moral force that can overcome it.

Mr. Peterkin did not venture in young master’s room for several hours
after; and not without having been sent for repeatedly. Meanwhile I
sought Amy, and found her lying on the floor of the cabin, with her face
downwards. She did not move when I entered, nor did she answer me when
I spoke. I lifted her up, but the hard, stony expression of her face,
frightened me.

“Amy, I will be your friend.”

“I don’t want any friend.”

“Yes you do, you like me.”

“No I don’t, I doesn’t like anybody.”

“Amy, God loves you.”

“I doesn’t love Him.”

“Don’t talk that way, child.”

“Well, you go off, and let me ‘lone.”

“I wish to comfort you.”

“I doesn’t want no comfort.”

“Come,” said I, “talk freely to me. It will do you good.”

“I tells you I doesn’t want no good for to happen to me. I’d rather be
like I is.”

“Amy,” and it was with reluctance I ventured to allude to a subject so
painful; but I deemed it necessary to excite her painfully rather than
leave her in that granite-like despair, “you may yet have your sisters
and little brother restored to you.”

“How? how? and when?” she screamed with joy, and started up, her wild
eyes beaming with exultation.

“Don’t be so wild,” I said, softly, as I took her little, hard hand, and
pressed it tenderly.

“But, say, Ann, ken I iver git de chilen back? Has Masser said anything
’bout it? Oh, it ‘pears like too much joy fur me to iver know any more.
Poor little Ben, it ‘pears like I kan’t do nothin’ but hear him cry. And
maybe dey is a beatin’ of him now. Oh, Lor’ a marcy! what shill I do?”
and she rocked her body back and forward in a transport of grief.

There are some sorrows for which human sympathy is unavailing. What to
that broken heart were words of condolence? Did she care to know that
others felt for her? that another heart wept for her grief? No, like
Rachel of old, she would not be comforted.

“Oh, Ann!” she added, “please leave me by myself. It ‘pears like I
kan’t get my breath when anybody is by me. I wants to be by myself. Jist
let me ‘lone for a little while, then I’ll talk to you.”

I understood the feeling, and complied with her request.

The slave is so distrustful of sympathy, he is so accustomed to
deception, that he feels secure in the indulgence of his grief only when
he is alone. The petted white, who has friends to cluster round him in
the hour of affliction, cannot understand the loneliness and solitude
which the slave covets as a boon.

For several days young master lingered on, declining visibly. The hectic
flush deepened upon his cheek, and the glitter of his eye grew fearfully
bright, and there was that sharp contraction of his features that
denoted the certain approach of death. His cough became low and even
harder, and those dreadful night-sweats increased. He lay in a stupid
state, half insensible from the effects of sedatives. Dr. Mandy, who
visited him three times a day, did not conceal from Mr. Peterkin the
fact of his son’s near dissolution.

“Save his life, doctor, and you shall have all I own.”

“If my art could do it, sir, I would, without fee, exert myself for his
restoration.”

Yet for a poor old negro his art could do nothing unfeed. Do ye wonder
that we are goaded on to acts of desperation, when every day, nay, every
moment, brings to our eyes some injustice that is done us–and all
because our faces are dark?

“Mislike us not for our complexion,
The shadow’d livery of the burnish’d sun,
To whom we are as neighbors, and near bred;
Bring us the fairest creature Northward born,
Where Phoebus’ fire scarce thaws the icicles,
And let us make incision for your love
To prove whose blood is reddest, his or ours.”

During young master’s illness I had but little communication with Amy.
By Miss Jane’s order she had been brought into the house to assist in
the dining-room. I gave her all the instruction in my power. She
appeared to listen to me, and learned well; yet everything was done with
that vacant, unmeaning manner, that showed she felt no interest in what
she was doing. I had never heard her allude to “the children” since the
conversation just recorded. Indeed, she appeared to eschew all talk. At
night I had attempted to draw her into conversation, but she always
silenced me by saying,

“I’m tired, Ann, and wants to sleep.”

This was singular in one so young, who had been reared in such a
reckless manner. I should have been better satisfied if she had talked
more freely of her sorrows; that stony, silent agony that seemed frozen
upon her face, terrified me more than the most volcanic grief; that
sorrow is deeply-rooted and hopeless, that denies itself the relief of
speech. Heaven help the soul thus cut off from the usual sources of
comfort. Oh, young Miss, spoiled daughter of wealth, you whose earliest
breath opened to the splendors of home in its most luxurious form; you
who have early and long known the watchful blessing of maternal love,
and whose soft cheek has flushed to the praises of a proud and happy
father, whose lip has thrilled beneath the pressure of a brother’s kiss;
you who have slept upon the sunny slope of life, have strayed ‘mid the
flowers, and reposed beneath the myrtles, and beside the fountains,
where fairy fingers have garlanded flowers for your brow, oh, bethink
you of some poor little negro girl, whom you often meet in your daily
walks, whose sad face and dejected air you have often condemned as
sullen, and I ask you now, in the name of sweet humanity, to judge her
kindly. Look, with a pitying eye, upon that face which trouble has
soured and abuse contracted. Repress the harsh word; give her kindness;
’tis this that she longs for. Be you the giver of the cup of cold water
in His name.

One evening, during young master’s illness, when he was able to sit up
beside the fire, Dr. Mandy came to see him, and, as I sat in his room,
sewing on some fancy work for Miss Jane, I heard the conversation that
passed between them.

“Have you coughed much?” the doctor asked.

“A great deal last night.”

“Do the night-sweats continue?”

“Yes, sir, and are violent.”

“Let me feel your pulse. Here–it is very quick–face is flushed–high
fever.”

“Yes, doctor, I am sinking fast.”

“Oh, keep up your spirits. I have been thinking that the best thing for
you would be to take a trip to Havana. This climate is too variable for
your complaint.”

Young master shook his head mournfully.

“The change of scene,” the doctor went on, “would be of service to you.
A healthful excitement of the imagination, and a different train of
thought, would, undoubtedly, benefit you.”

“What in the South could induce a different train of thought? Oh,
doctor, the horrid system, that there flourishes with such rank power,
would only deepen my train of thought, and make me more wretched than I
am; I would not go near New Orleans, or pass those dreadful plantations,
even to secure the precious boon of health.”

“You will not see anything of the kind. You will only see life at
hotels; and there the slaves are all happy and well used. Besides, my
good boy, the negroes on the plantations are much better used than you
think; and I assure you they are very happy. If you could overhear them
laughing and singing of an evening, you would be convinced that they are
well cared for.”

“Ah, disguise thee as thou wilt, yet, Slavery, thou art horrid and
revolting.”

“You are morbid on the subject.”

“No, only humane; but have I not seen enough to make me morbid?”

“These are subjects upon which I deem it best to say nothing.”

“That is the invariable argument of self-interest.”

“No, of prudence, Mr. John; I have no right to quarrel with and rail out
against an institution that has the sanction of the law, and which is
acceptable to the interests of my best friends and patrons.”

“Exactly so; the whole matter, so vital to the happiness of others, so
fraught with great humanitarian interests, must be quietly laid on the
shelf, because it may lose you or me a few hundred dollars.”

“Not precisely that either; but, granting, for the sake of hypothesis
only, that slavery is a wrong, what good would all my arguments do?
None, but rather an injury to the very cause they sought to benefit. You
must not exasperate the slave-holders. Leave them to time and their own
reflections. I believe many of the Western States–yes, Kentucky
herself–would at this moment be free from slavery, if it had not been
for the officious interference of the North. The people of the West and
South are hot, fiery and impetuous. They may be persuaded and coaxed
into a measure, but never driven. All this talk and gasconade of
Abolitionists have but the tighter bound the negroes.”

“I am sorry to hear you thus express yourself, for you give me a more
contemptible opinion of the Southern and Western men, or rather the
slave-holding class, than I had before. And so they are but children,
who must be coaxed, begged, and be-sugar-plumed into doing a simple act
of justice. Have they not the manhood to come out boldly, and say this
thing is wrong, and that they will no longer countenance it in their
midst; that they will, for the sake of justice and sympathy with
humanity, liberate these creatures, whom they have held in an unjust and
wicked bondage? Were they to act thus, then might they claim for
themselves the title of chevaliers.”

“Yes; but they take a different view of the subject; they look upon
slavery as just and right–a dispensation of Providence, and feel that
they are as much entitled to their slaves as another man is to his
house, carriage, or horse.”

“Oh, how they shut their hearts against the voice of misery, and close
their eyes to the rueful sigh of human grief. I never heard a
pro-slavery man who could, upon any reasonable ground, defend his
position. The slavery argument is not only a wicked, but an absurd one.
How wise men can be deluded by it I am at a loss to understand.
Infatuated they must be, else they could not uphold a system as
tyrannous as it is base.”

“Well, we will say no more upon this subject,” said the doctor, as Mr.
Peterkin entered.

“What’s the matter?” the latter inquired, as he listlessly threw himself
into a chair.

“Nothing, only Mr. John is not all right on the ‘goose,'” replied Dr.
Mandy, with a facetious smile.

“And not likely to be,” said Mr. Peterkin; “Johnny has given me a great
deal of trouble ’bout this matter; but I hope he will outgrow it. ‘Tis
only a foolish notion. He was ‘lowed to gad ’bout too much with them ar’
devilish niggers, an’ so ‘bibed their quare ideas agin slavery. Now, in
my ‘pinion, my niggers is a darned sight better off than many of them
poor whites at the North.”

“But are they as free?” asked young master.

“No, to be sure they is not,” and here Mr. Peterkin ejected from his
mouth an amount of tobacco-juice that nearly extinguished the fire.

“Woe be unto the man who takes from a fellow-being the priceless right
of personal liberty!” exclaimed young master, with his fine eyes
fervently raised.

“Yes, but everybody don’t desarve liberty. Niggers ain’t fit for to
govern ’emselves nohow. They has bin too long ‘customed to havin’
masters. Them that’s went to Libery has bin of no ‘count to ’emselves
nor nobody else. I tell yer, niggers was made to be slaves, and yer
kan’t change their Creator’s design. Why, you see, doctor, a nigger’s
mind is never half as good as a white man’s;” and Mr. Peterkin conceived
this speech to be the very best extract of lore and sapience.

“Why is not the African mind equal to the Caucasian?” inquired young
master, with that pointed naivete for which he was so remarkable.

“Oh, it tain’t no use, Johnny, fur you to be talkin’ that ar’ way. It’s
all fine enoff in newspapers, but it won’t do to bring it into practice,
‘specially out here in the West.”

“No, father, I begin to fear that it is of no avail to talk common sense
and preach humanity in a community like this.”

“Don’t talk any more on this subject,” said the doctor; “I am afraid it
does Mr. John no particular good to be so painfully excited. I was going
to propose to you, Mr. Peterkin, to send him South, either on a little
coasting trip, or to Havana _via_ New Orleans. I think this climate is
too rigorous and uncertain for one of his frail constitution to remain
in it during the winter.”

“Well, doctor, I am perfectly willin’ fur him to go, if I had anybody to
go with him; but you see it wouldn’t be safe to trust him by himself.
Now an idee has jist struck me, which, if you’ll agree to, will ‘zackly
suit me. ‘Tis for you to go ‘long; then he’d have a doctor to rinder him
any sarvice he might need. Now Doct. if you’ll go, I’ll foot the bill,
and pay you a good bonus in the bargain.”

“Well, it will be a great professional sacrifice; but I’m willing to
make it for a friend like you, and for a patient in whose recovery or
improvement I feel so deeply interested.”

“Make no sacrifices for me, dear doctor; my poor wreck of life is not
worth a sacrifice; I can weather it out a little longer in this region.
It requires a stronger air than that of the tropics to restore strength
to my poor decayed lungs.”

“Yes, but you must not despond,” said the doctor.

“No, my boy, you musn’t give up. You are too young to die. You are my
only son, and I can’t spare you.” Again Mr. Peterkin turned uneasily in
his chair.

“But tell me, doctor,” he added, “don’t you think he is growin’
stronger?”

“Why, yes I do; and if he will consent to go South, I shall have strong
hope of him.”

“He must consent,” exclaimed Mr. Peterkin, with a decided emphasis.

“You know my objection, doctor, yet I cannot oppose my wish against
father’s judgment; so I will go, but ’twill be without the least
expectation of ever again seeing home.”

“Oh, don’t, don’t, my boy,” and Mr. Peterkin’s voice faltered, and his
eyes were very moist.

“Idols of clay!” I thought, “how frail ye are; albeit ye are
manufactured out of humanity’s finest porcelain, yet a rude touch, a
slight jar, and the beautiful fabric is destroyed forever!”

Mr. Peterkin’s treasure, his only son, was wasting slowly, inch by inch,
before his eyes–dying with slow and silent certainty. The virus was in
his blood, and no human aid could check its strides. The father looked
on in speechless dread. He saw the insidious marks of the incurable
malady. He read its ravages upon the broad white brow of his son, where
the pulsing veins lay like tightly-drawn cords; and on the hueless lip,
that was shrivelled like an autumn leaf; in the dilated pupil of that
prophet-like eye; in the fiery spot that blazed upon each hollow cheek;
and in the short, disturbed breathing that seemed to come from a brazen
tube; in all these he traced the omens of that stealthy disease that
robs us, like a thief in the night-time, of our richest treasures.

“Well, my boy,” began Mr. Peterkin, “you must prepare to start in the
course of a few days.”

“I am ready to leave at any moment, father; and, if we do not start
very soon, I am thinking you will have to consign me to the earth,
rather than send me on a voyage pleasure-hunting.”

A bright smile, though mournful as twilight’s shadows, flitted over the
pale face of young master as he said this.

“Why, Johnny, you are better this evening,” said Miss Bradly, as she
entered the room, rushed up to him, and began patting him affectionately
on either cheek.

“Yes, I am better, good Miss Emily; but still feeble, oh so feeble! My
spirits are better, but the restless fire that burns eternally here will
give me no rest,” and he placed his hand over his breast.

“Yes, but you must quench that fire.”

“Where is the draught clear and pure enough to quench a flame so
consuming?”

“The dew of divine grace can do it.”

“Yes, but it descends not upon my dried and burnt spirit.”

Mr. Peterkin turned off, and affected to take no note of this little
colloquy, whilst Doctor Mandy began to chew furiously.

The fact is, the Peterkin family had begun to distrust Miss Bradly’s
principles ever since the day young master administered such a reproof
to her muffled conscience; and in truth, I believe she had half-declared
her opposition to the slave system; and they began to abate the fervor
of their friendship for her. The young ladies, indeed, kept up their
friendly intercourse with her, though with a modification of their
former warmth.

I fancied that Miss Bradly looked happier, now that she had cast off
disguise and stood forth in her true character. That cloud of faltering
distrust that once hung round her like a filmy web, had been dissipated
and she stood out, in full relief, with the beautiful robe of truth
draping and dignifying her nature. Woman, when once she interests
herself in the great cause of humanity, goes to work with an ability and
ardor that put to shame the colder and slower action of man. The heart
and mind co-work, and thus a woman, as if by the dictate of inspiration,
will achieve with a single effort the mighty deed, for the attainment of
which men spend years in idle planning. Women have done much, and may
yet achieve more toward the emancipation and enfranchisement of the
world. The historic pages glitter with the noble acts of heroic
womanhood, and histories yet unwritten will, I believe, proclaim the
good which they shall yet do. Who but the Maid of Orleans rescued her
country? Whose hand but woman’s dealt the merited death-blow to one of
France’s bloodiest tyrants? In all times, she has been most loyal to the
highest good. Woman has ever been brave! She was the instrument of our
redemption, and the early watcher at the tomb of our Lord. To her heart
the Saviour’s doctrine came with a special welcome message. And I now
believe that through her agency will yet come the political ransom of
the slaves! God grant it, and speed on the blessed day!

I now looked upon Miss Bradly with the admiring interest with which I
used to regard her; and though I had never had from her an explanation
of the change or changes through which she had passed since that
memorable conversation recorded in the earlier pages of this book, I
felt assured from the fact that young master had learned to love her,
that all was right at the core of her heart; and I was willing to
forgive her for the timidity and vacillation that had caused her to play
the dissembler. The memorable example of the loving but weak Apostle
Peter should teach us to look leniently upon all those who cannot pass
safely through the ordeal of human contempt, without having their
principles, or at least actions, a little warped. Of course there are
higher natures, from whose fortitude the rack and the stake can provoke
nothing but smiles; but neither good St. Peter nor Miss Bradly were of
such material.

“I am going to leave you very soon, Miss Emily.”

“And where are you going, John?”

“They will send me to the South. As the poor slaves say, I’m going down
the river;” and a sweet smile flitted over that gentle face.

“Who will accompany you?”

“Father wishes Doctor Mandy to go; but I fear it will be too great a
professional sacrifice.”

“Oh, some one must go with you. You shall not go alone.”

“I do not wish to go at all. I shall see nothing in the South to please
me. Those magnificent plantations of rice, sugar, and cotton, those
lordly palaces, embowered in orange trees, those queenly magnolia
groves, and all the thousand splendors that cover the coast with
loveliness, will but recall to my mind the melancholy fact that
slave-labor produces the whole. I shall fancy that some poor
heart-broken negro man, or some hopeless mother or lonely wife watered
those fields with tears. Oh, that the dropping of those sad eyes had,
like the sowing of the dragon’s teeth, produced a band of armed,
bristling warriors, strong enough to conquer all the tyrants and
liberate the captives!”

“This can never be accomplished suddenly. It must be the slow and
gradual work of years. Like all schemes of reformation, it moves but by
inches. Wise legislators have proposed means for the final abolition of
slavery; but, though none have been deemed practicable, I look still for
the advent of the day when the great sun shall look goldenly down upon
the emancipation of this dusky tribe, and when the word slave shall
nowhere find expression upon the lips of Christian men.”

“When do you predict the advent of that millennial day?”

“I fear it is far distant; yet is it pleasant to think that it will
come, no matter at how remote an epoch.”

“Distant is it only because men are not thoroughly Christianized. No man
that will willingly hold his brother in bondage is a Christian.
Moreover, the day is far off in the future, because of the ignorant
pride of men. They wish to send the poor negro away to the unknown land
from whence his ancestors were stolen. We virtually say to the Africans,
now you have cultivated and made beautiful our continent, we have no
further use for you. You have grown up, it is true, beneath the shadow
of our trees, you were born upon our soil, your early associations are
here. Your ignorance precludes you from the knowledge of the excellence
of any other land: yet for all this we take no care, it is our business
to drive you hence. Cross the ocean you must. Find a home in a strange
country; lay your broad shoulder to the work, and make for yourself an
interest there. What wonder is it, if the poor, ignorant negro shakes
his head mournfully, and says: “No, I would rather stay here; I am a
slave, it is true, but then I was born here, and here I will be buried.
I am tightly kept, have a master and a mistress, but then I know what
this is. Hard to endure, I grant it–but then it is known to me. I can
bear on a little longer, till death sets me free. No, this is my native
shore; here let me stay.” Their very ignorance begets a kind of
philosophy that

“Makes them rather bear those ills they have,
Than fly to others that they know not of.”

Now, why, I ask, have they not as much right to remain here as we have?
This is their birthplace as well as ours. We are, likewise, descendants
of foreigners. If we drive them hence, what excuse have we for it? Our
forefathers were not the aborigines of this country. As well might the
native red men say to us: “Fly, leave the Western continent, ’tis our
home; we will not let you stay here. You have cultivated it, now _we_
will enjoy it. Go and labor elsewhere.” What would we think of this? Yet
such is our line of conduct toward those poor creatures, who have toiled
to adorn our homes. Then again, we allow the Irish, Germans, and
Hungarians, to dwell among us. Why ban the African?”

“These, my young friend, are questions that have puzzled the wisest
brains.”

“If it entered more into the hearts, and disturbed the brains less, it
would be better for them and for the slaves.”

“Now, come, Miss Emily, I’m tired of hearing you and that boy talk all
that nonsense. It’s time you were both thinking of something else. You
are too old to be indulgin’ of him in that ar’ stuff. It will never
come to any good. Them ar’ niggers is allers gwine to be slaves, and
white folks had better be tendin’ to what consarns ’emselves.”

Such arguments as the foregoing were carried on every day. Meanwhile we,
who formed the subject of them, still went on in our usual way, half-fed
and half-clad, knocked and kicked like dogs.

Amy went about her assigned work, with the same hard-set composure with
which she had begun. Talking little to any one, she tried to discharge
her duties with a docility and faithfulness very remarkable. Yet she
sternly rebuked all conversation. I made many efforts to draw her out
into a free, sociable talk, and was always told that it was not
agreeable to her.

I now had no companionship among those of my own color. Aunt Polly was
in the grave; Amy wrapped in the silence of her own grief; and Sally
(the successor of Aunt Polly in the culinary department) was a sulky,
ignorant woman, who did not like to be sociable; and the men, with their
beastly instincts, were objects of aversion to me. So my days and nights
passed in even deeper gloom than I had ever before known.

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