Our trip would, indeed, have been delightful

Months passed by after the events told in the last chapter–_passed_, I
scarce know how. They have told me that I wandered about like one in the
mazes of a troubled dream. My reason was disturbed. I’ve no distinct
idea how the days or weeks were employed. Vague remembrances of kindly
words, music, odorous flowers, and a trip to a beautiful, quiet
country-house, I sometimes have; but ’tis all so misty and dream-like,
that I can form no tangible idea of it. So this period has almost faded
out of mind, and is like lost pages from the chronicle of life.

When the winter was far spent, and during the snowy days of February, my
mind began to collect its shattered forces. The approach of another
trouble brought back consciousness with rekindled vigor.

One day I became aware that Miss Nancy was very ill. It seemed as if a
thick vapor, like a breath-stain on glass, had suddenly been wiped away
from my mind; and I saw clearly. There lay Miss Nancy upon her bed,
appallingly white, with her large eyes sunken deeply in their sockets,
and her lips purple as an autumn leaf. Her thin, white hand, with
discolored nails, was thrown upon the covering, and aroused my alarm. I
rushed to her, fearing that the vital spark no longer animated that
loved and once lovely frame.

“Miss Nancy, dear Miss Nancy,” I cried, “speak to me, only one word.”

She started nervously, “Oh, who are you? Ah, Ann–is it Ann?”

“Yes, dear Miss Nancy, it is _I_. It appears as though a film had been
removed from my eyes, and I see how selfish I have been. You have
suffered for my attention. What has been the matter with me?”

“Oh, dear child, a fearful dispensation of Providence was sent you; and
from the chastisement you are about recovering. Thank God, that you are
still the mistress of your reason! For its safety, I often trembled. I
did all for you that I could; but I was fearful that human skill would
be of no avail.”

“Thanks, my kind friend, and sorry I am for all the anxiety and
uneasiness that I have given you.”

“Oh, I am repaid, or rather was pre-paid for all and more, you were so
kind to me.”

Here Biddy entered, and I took down the Bible and read a few chapters
from the book of Job.

“What a comfort that book is to us,” said Biddy. “Many’s the time, Ann,
that Miss Nancy read it to you, when you’d sit an’ look so
wandering-like; but you are well now, Ann, an’ all will be right with
us.”

“_All_ can never be, Biddy, as once it _was_,” and I shook my head.

“Oh, don’t spake of it,” and she wiped her moist eyes with her apron.

Days and weeks passed on thus smoothly, during which time Louise came
often to see us; but the fatal sorrow was never alluded to. By common
consent all avoided it.

Daily, hourly, Miss Nancy’s health sank. I never saw the footsteps of
the grim monster approach more rapidly than in her case. The wasting of
her cheek was like the eating of a worm at the heart of a rose.

Her bed was wheeled close to the fire, and I read, all the pleasant
mornings, some cheerful book to her.

Her brother came often, and sat with her through the evenings. Many of
her friends and neighbors offered to watch with her at night; but she
bade me decline all such kindness.

“You and Biddy are enough. I want no others. Let me die calmly, in the
presence of, my own household, with no unusual faces around,” she said
in a low tone.

She talked about her death as though it were some long journey upon
which she was about starting; gave directions how she should be
shrouded; what kind of coffin we must get, tomb-stone, &c. She enjoined
that we inscribe nothing but her age and name upon the tomb-stone.

“I wish no ostentatious slab, no false eulogium; my name and age are all
the epitaph I deserve, and all that I will have.”

Several ministers came to see her, and held prayer. She received them
kindly, and spoke at length with some.

“I shall meet the great change with resignation. I had hoped, Ann, to
see you well settled somewhere in the North; but that will be denied me.
In my will, I have remembered both you and Biddy. I have no parting
advice for either of you; for you are both, though of different faith,
consistent Christians. I hope we shall meet hereafter. You must not
weep, girls, for it pains me to think I leave you troubled.”

When Biddy withdrew, she called me to her, saying,

“Ann, I am feeble, draw near the bed whilst I talk to you. I hold here
in my hand a letter from my nephew, Robert Worth.”

“Robert Worth? Why I–”

“Yes, he says that he was at Mr. Peterkin’s and remembers you well. He
also speaks of Emily Bradly, who is now in Boston; says that she
recollects you well, and is pleased to hear of your good fortune. Robert
is the son of my elder sister, who is now deceased; a favorite he always
was of mine. He read law in Mr. Trueman’s office, and has a very
successful practice at the Boston bar. Long time ago, Ann, when I was a
young, blooming girl, my sister Lydia (Robert’s mother) and I were at
school at a very celebrated academy in the North. During one of our
vacations, when we were on a visit to Boston–for we were country
girls–we were introduced to two young barristers, William Worth and
Justinian Trueman. They were strong personal friends.

“The former became much attached to my sister, and came frequently to
see her. Justinian Trueman came also. By the force of circumstance, Mr.
Trueman and I were thrown much together. From his lofty conversation and
noble principles, I gained great advantage. I loved to listen to his
candid avowal of free, democratic principles. How bravely he set aside
conventionality and empty forms; he was a searcher after the soul of
things! He was the very essence of honor, always ready to sacrifice
himself for others, and daily and hourly crucified his heart!

“Chance threw us much together, as I have said. You may infer what
ensued. Two persons so similar in nature, so united in purpose (though
he was vastly my superior), could not associate much and long together
without a feeling of love springing up! Our case did not differ from
that of others. _We loved._ Not as the careless or ordinary love; but
with a fervor, a depth of passion, and a concentration of soul, which
nothing in life could destroy.

“My sister was the chosen bride of William Worth. This fact was known to
all the household. Justinian and I read in each other’s manner the
secret of the heart.

“At length, in one brief hour, he told me his story; he was the only
child of a widowed mother, who had spent her all upon his education.
Whilst he was away, her wants had been tenderly ministered to by a very
lovely young girl of wealth and social position. Upon her death-bed his
mother besought him to marry this lady. He was then inflamed with
gratitude, and, being free in heart, he mistook the nature of his
feelings. Whilst in this state of mind, he offered himself to her and
was instantly accepted. Afterwards when we met he understood how he had
been beguiled!

“He wrote to his betrothed, told her the state of his feelings, that he
loved another; but declared his willingness to redeem his promise, and
stand by his engagement if she wished.

“How anxiously we both awaited her reply! It came promptly, and she
desired, nay demanded, the fulfilment of the engagement; even reminded
him of his promise to his mother, and of the obligation he was under to
herself.

“No tongue can describe the agony that we both endured; yet principle
must be obeyed. We parted. They were married. Twice afterwards I saw
him. He was actively engaged in his profession; but the pale cheek and
earnest look told me that he still thought lovingly of me! My sister
married William Worth, and resided in Boston; but her husband died early
in life, leaving his only child Robert to the care of Mr. Trueman. After
my mother’s death, possessing myself of my patrimony, I removed west, to
this city, where my brother lived. I had been separated from him for a
number of years, and was surprised to find how entirely a Southern
residence had changed him. Owing to some little domestic difficulties, I
declined remaining in his family.

“Last winter, when Justinian Trueman was here, I was out of the city;
and it was well that I was, for I could not have met him again. Old
feelings, that should be cradled to rest, would have been aroused! My
brother saw him, and told me that he looked well.

“Now, is it not strange that you should have been an object of such
especial interest to both of us? It seems as though you were a centre
around which we were once more re-united. I have written him a long
letter, which I wish you to deliver upon your arrival in Boston.” Here
she drew from the portfolio that was lying on the bed beside her, a
sealed letter, directed to Justinian Trueman, Boston, Mass.

I was weeping violently when I took it from her.

She lingered thus for several weeks, and on a calm Sabbath morning, as I
was reading to her from the Bible, she said to me–

“Ann, I am sleepy; my eyelids are closing; turn me over.”

As I attempted to do it she pressed my hand tightly, straightened her
body out, and the last struggle was over! I was alone with her. Laying
her gently upon the pillow, I for the first time in my life pressed my
lips to that cold, marble brow. I felt that she, holy saint, would not
object to it, were she able to speak. I then called Biddy in to assist
me. She was loud in her lamentation.

“She bade us not weep for her, Biddy. She is happier now;” but, though I
spoke this in a composed tone, my heart was all astir with emotion.

Soon her brother came in, bringing with him a minister. He received the
mournful intelligence with subdued grief.

We robed her for Death’s bridal, e’en as she had requested, in white
silk, flannel, and white gloves. Her coffin was plain mahogony, with a
plate upon the top, upon which were engraved her name, age, and
birth-place.

A funeral sermon was preached, by a minister who had been a strong
personal friend. In a retired portion of the public burial-ground we
made her last bed. A simple tombstone, as she directed, was placed over
the grave, her name, age, &c., inscribed thereon.

Bridget and I slept in the same house that night. We could not be
persuaded to leave it, and there, in Miss Nancy’s dear, familiar room,
we held, as usual, family devotion. I almost fancied that she stood in
the midst, and was gazing well-pleased upon us.

That night I slept profoundly. My rest had been broken a great deal, and
now the knowledge that duty did not keep me awake, enabled me to sleep
well.

On the next day Mr. Worth arrived, and was much distressed to find that
he was too late to see his aunt alive.

Though he looked older and more serious than when I last saw him, I
readily recognized the same noble expression of face. He received me
very kindly, and thanked Biddy and me for our attentions to his beloved
aunt. He showed us a letter she had written, in which she spoke of us in
the kindest manner, and recommended us to his care.

“Neither of you shall ever lack for friendship whilst I live,” he said,
as he warmly shook us by the hands.

He told me that he had ever retained a vivid recollection of my sad
face; and inquired about “young Master.” When I told him that he was
dead, and gave an account of his life and sufferings, Mr. Worth
remarked–

“Ah, yes, he was one of heaven’s angels, lent us only for a short
season.”

I accompanied him to his aunt’s grave.

* * * * * *

Upon the reading of the will, it was discovered that Miss Nancy had
liberated me, and left me, as a legacy, four thousand dollars, with the
request that I would live somewhere in the North. To Biddy she had left
a bequest of three thousand dollars; the remainder of her fortune, after
making a donation to her brother, was left to her nephew, Robert Worth.

The will was instantly carried into effect; as it met with no
opposition, and she owed no debts, matters were arranged satisfactorily;
and we prepared for departure.

Louise had made all her arrangements to go with us. I was now a free
woman, in the possession of a comparative fortune; yet I was not happy.
Alas! I had out-lived all for which money and freedom were valuable, and
I cared not how the remainder of my days were spent. Why cannot the
means of happiness come to us when we have the capacity for enjoyment?

On the evening before our departure, I called Louise to me and asked,

“Where is Henry’s grave?” It was the first time since that fatal day
that I had mentioned his name to her.

“He is buried far away, in a plain, unmarked grave; but, even if it were
near, you should not go,” she replied.

“Tell me, who found him, after–after–after _the murder_?”

“Mr. Graham and Atkins went in search of him, and I followed them;
though he had told me what he was going to do, Ann, I could not oppose
or even dissuade him.”

I wept freely; and, as is always the case, was relieved by it.

“I am glad to see that you can weep. It will do you good,” said Louise.

But little more remains to be told of my history.

When Louise, Biddy and I, under the protection of Mr. Worth, sailed on a
pleasant steamer from the land of slavery, I could but thank my God that
I was leaving forever the State, beneath the sanction of whose laws the
vilest outrages and grossest inhumanities were committed!

Our trip would, indeed, have been delightful, but that I was constantly
contrasting it in my own mind with what it might have been, had HE not
fallen a victim to the white man’s cupidity.

Often I stole away from the company, and, in the privacy of my own room,
gave vent to my pent-up grief. Biddy and Louise were in ecstacies with
everything that they saw.

All along the route, after passing out of the Slave States, we met with
kind friends and genuine hospitality. The Northern people are noble,
generous, and philanthropic; and it affords me pleasure to record here a
tribute to their worth and kindness.

In New York we met with the best of friends. Everywhere I saw smiling,
black faces; a sight rarely beheld in the cities and villages of the
South. I saw men and women of the despised race, who walked with erect
heads and respectable carriage, as though they realized that they were
men and women, not mere chattels.

When we reached Boston I was made to feel this in a particular manner.
There I met full-blooded Africans, finely educated, in the possession of
princely talents, occupying good positions, wielding a powerful
political influence, and illustrating, in their lives, the oft-disputed
fact, that the African intellect is equal to the Caucasian. Soon after
my arrival in Boston I found out, from Mr. Worth, the residence of Mr.
Trueman, and called to see him.

I was politely ushered by an Irish waiter into the study, where I found
Mr. Trueman engaged with a book. At first he did not recognize me; but I
soon made myself known, and received from him a most hearty welcome.

I related all the incidents in my life that had occurred since I had
seen him last. He entered fully into my feelings, and I saw the tear
glisten in his calm eyes when I spoke of poor Henry’s awful fate.

I told him of Miss Nancy’s kindness, and the tears rolled down his
cheeks. I did not speak of what she had told me in relation to their
engagement; I merely stated that she had referred to him as a particular
personal friend, and when I gave him the letter he received it with a
tremulous hand, uttered a fearful groan, and buried his face among the
papers that lay scattered over his table. Without a spoken good-bye, I
withdrew.

I saw him often after this; and from him received the most signal acts
of kindness. He thanked me many times for what he termed my fidelity to
his sainted friend. He never spoke of her without a quiver of the lip,
and I honored him for his constancy.

He strongly urged me to take up my residence in Boston; but I remembered
that Henry’s preference had always been for a New England village; and I
loved to think that I was following out his views, and so I removed to a
quiet puritanical little town in Massachusetts.

And here I now am engaged in teaching a small school of African
children; happy in the discharge of so sacred a duty. ‘Tis surprising to
see how rapidly they learn. I am interested, and so are they, in the
work: and thus what with some teachers is an irksome task, is to me a
pleasing duty.

I should state for the benefit of the curious, that Biddy is living in
Boston, happily married to “a countryman,” and is the proud mother of
several blooming children. She comes to visit me sometimes, during the
heat of summer, and is always a welcome guest.

Louise, too, has consented to wear matrimony’s easy yoke. She lives in
the same village with me. Our social and friendly relations still
continue. I have frequently, when visiting Boston, met Miss Bradly. She,
like me, has never married. She has grown to be a firmer and more
earnest woman than she was in Kentucky. I must not omit to mention the
fact, that when travelling through Canada, I by the rarest chance met
Ben–Amy’s treasure–now grown to be a fine-looking youth.

He had a melancholy story–a life, like every other slave’s, full of
trouble–but at length, by the sharpest ingenuity, he had made his
escape, and reached, after many difficulties, the golden shores of
Canada!

Now my history has been given–a round, unvarnished tale it is; and
thus, without ornament, I send it forth to the world. I have spoken
freely; at times, I grant, with a touch of bitterness, but never without
truth; and I ask the wise, the considerate, the earnest, if I have not
had cause for bitterness. Who can carp at me? That there are some fiery
Southerners who will assail me, I doubt not; but I feel satisfied that I
have discharged a duty that I solemnly owed to my oppressed and
down-trodden nation. I am calm and self-possessed; I have passed firmly
through the severest ordeal of persecution, and have been spared the
death that has befallen many others. Surely I was saved for some wise
purpose, and I fear nought from those who are fanatically wedded to
wrong and inhumanity. Let them assail me as they will, I shall still
feel that

“Thrice is he armed who has his quarrel just,
And he but naked, though wrapped up in steel,
Whose bosom with injustice is polluted.”

But there are others, some even in slave States, kind, noble, thoughtful
persons, earnest seekers after the highest good in life and nature; to
them I consign my little book, sincerely begging, that through my weak
appeal, my poor suffering brothers and sisters, who yet wear the galling
yoke of American slavery, may be granted a hearing.

From the distant rice-fields and sugar plantations of the fervid South,
comes a frantic wail from the wronged, injured, and oh, how innocent
African! Hear it; hear that cry, Christians of the North, let it ring in
your ears with its fearful agony! Hearken to it, ye who feast upon the
products of African labor! Let it stay you in the use of those
commodities for which their life-blood, aye more, their soul’s life, is
drained out drop by drop! Talk no more, ye faint-hearted politicians, of
“expediency.” God will not hear your lame excuse in that grand and awful
day, when He shall come in pomp and power to judge the quick and dead.

And so, my history, go forth and do thy mission! knock at the doors of
the lordly and wealthy: there, by the shaded light of rosy lamps, tell
your story. Creep in at the broken crevice of the poor man’s cabin, and
there make your complaint. Into the ear of the brave, energetic
mechanic, sound the burden of your grief. To the strong-hearted
blacksmith, sweating over his furnace, make yourself heard; and ask
them, one and all, shall this unjust institution of slavery be
perpetuated? Shall it dare to desecrate, with its vile presence, the new
territories that are now emphatically free? Shall Nebraska and Kansas
join in a blood-spilling coalition with the South?

Answer proudly, loudly, brave men; and answer, _No, No!_ My work is
done.

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