by Harriet E. Wilson
CHAPTER I. MAG
CHAPTER II. MY
CHAPTER III. A
NEW HOME FOR ME.
CHAPTER IV. A
FRIEND FOR NIG.
CHAPTER XII. THE
WINDING UP OF
Sketches from the
Life of a Free Black,
In A Two-Story White House, North.
SHOWING THAT SLAVERY'S SHADOWS
FALL EVEN THERE.
Pauline Augusta Coleman Gates
Henry Louis Gates, Sr.
Marguerite Elizabeth Howard Coleman,
Gertrude Helen Redman Gates
That care has iron crowns for many brows;
That Calvaries are everywhere, whereon
Virtue is crucified, and nails and spears
Draw guiltless blood; that sorrow sits and drinks
At sweetest hearts, till all their life is dry;
That gentle spirits on the rack of pain
Grow faint or fierce, and pray and curse by turns;
That hell's temptations, clad in heavenly guise
And armed with might, lie evermore in wait
Along life's path, giving assault to all."—HOLLAND.
IN offering to the public the following pages, the writer
confesses her inability to minister to the refined and culti- vated,
the pleasure supplied by abler pens. It is not for such these crude
narrations appear. Deserted by kindred, disabled by failing health, I
am forced to some experiment which shall aid me in maintaining myself
and child with- out extinguishing this feeble life. I would not from
these motives even palliate slavery at the South, by disclosures of
its appurtenances North. My mistress was wholly imbued with SOUTHERN
principles. I do not pretend to divulge every transaction in my own
life, which the unprejudiced would declare unfavorable in comparison
with treatment of legal bondmen; I have purposely omitted what would
most provoke shame in our good anti-slavery friends at home.
My humble position and frank confession of errors will, I hope,
shield me from severe criticism. Indeed, defects are so apparent it
requires no skilful hand to expose them.
I sincerely appeal to my colored brethren universally for
patronage, hoping they will not condemn this attempt of their sister
to be erudite, but rally around me a faithful band of supporters and
H. E. W.
CHAPTER I. MAG SMITH, MY MOTHER.
Oh, Grief beyond all other griefs, when fate
First leaves the young heart lone and desolate
In the wide world, without that only tie
For which it loved to live or feared to die;
Lorn as the hung-up lute, that ne'er hath spoken
Since the sad day its master-chord was broken!
LONELY MAG SMITH! See her as she walks with downcast eyes and
heavy heart. It was not always thus. She HAD a loving, trusting
heart. Early deprived of parental guardianship, far removed from
relatives, she was left to guide her tiny boat over life's surges
alone and inexperi- enced. As she merged into womanhood, unpro-
tected, uncherished, uncared for, there fell on her ear the music of
love, awakening an intensity of emotion long dormant. It whispered of
an ele- vation before unaspired to; of ease and plenty her simple
heart had never dreamed of as hers. She knew the voice of her charmer,
so ravishing, sounded far above her. It seemed like an an- gel's,
alluring her upward and onward. She thought she could ascend to him
and become an equal. She surrendered to him a priceless gem, which
he proudly garnered as a trophy, with those of other victims, and left
her to her fate. The world seemed full of hateful deceivers and
crushing arrogance. Conscious that the great bond of union to her
former companions was sev- ered, that the disdain of others would be
insup- portable, she determined to leave the few friends she
possessed, and seek an asylum among strangers. Her offspring came
unwelcomed, and before its nativity numbered weeks, it passed from
earth, ascending to a purer and better life.
"God be thanked," ejaculated Mag, as she saw its breathing cease;
"no one can taunt HER with my ruin."
Blessed release! may we all respond. How many pure, innocent
children not only inherit a wicked heart of their own, claiming
life-long scrutiny and restraint, but are heirs also of pa- rental
disgrace and calumny, from which only long years of patient endurance
in paths of recti- tude can disencumber them.
Mag's new home was soon contaminated by the publicity of her fall;
she had a feeling of degradation oppressing her; but she resolved to
be circumspect, and try to regain in a measure what she had lost.
Then some foul tongue would jest of her shame, and averted looks and
cold greetings disheartened her. She saw she could not bury in
forgetfulness her misdeed, so she resolved to leave her home and seek
another in the place she at first fled from.
Alas, how fearful are we to be first in extend- ing a helping hand
to those who stagger in the mires of infamy; to speak the first words
of hope and warning to those emerging into the sunlight of morality!
Who can tell what numbers, ad- vancing just far enough to hear a cold
welcome and join in the reserved converse of professed reformers,
disappointed, disheartened, have cho- sen to dwell in unclean places,
rather than en- counter these "holier-than-thou" of the great
brotherhood of man!
Such was Mag's experience; and disdaining to ask favor or
friendship from a sneering world, she resolved to shut herself up in a
hovel she had often passed in better days, and which she knew to be
untenanted. She vowed to ask no favors of familiar faces; to die
neglected and for- gotten before she would be dependent on any.
Removed from the village, she was seldom seen except as upon your
introduction, gentle reader, with downcast visage, returning her work
to her employer, and thus providing herself with the means of
subsistence. In two years many hands craved the same avocation;
foreigners who cheapened toil and clamored for a livelihood, competed
with her, and she could not thus sus- tain herself. She was now above
no drudgery. Occasionally old acquaintances called to be fa- vored
with help of some kind, which she was glad to bestow for the sake of
the money it would bring her; but the association with them was such
a painful reminder of by-gones, she re- turned to her hut morose and
revengeful, re- fusing all offers of a better home than she pos-
sessed. Thus she lived for years, hugging her wrongs, but making no
effort to escape. She had never known plenty, scarcely competency;
but the present was beyond comparison with those innocent years when
the coronet of virtue was hers.
Every year her melancholy increased, her means diminished. At
last no one seemed to notice her, save a kind-hearted African, who
often called to inquire after her health and to see if she needed any
fuel, he having the responsibility of furnishing that article, and she
in return mend- ing or making garments.
"How much you earn dis week, Mag?" asked he one Saturday evening.
"Little enough, Jim. Two or three days with- out any dinner. I
washed for the Reeds, and did a small job for Mrs. Bellmont; that's
all. I shall starve soon, unless I can get more to do. Folks seem
as afraid to come here as if they expected to get some awful disease.
I don't believe there is a person in the world but would be glad to
have me dead and out of the way."
"No, no, Mag! don't talk so. You shan't starve so long as I have
barrels to hoop. Peter Greene boards me cheap. I'll help you, if
nobody else will."
A tear stood in Mag's faded eye. "I'm glad," she said, with a
softer tone than before, "if there is ONE who isn't glad to see me
suffer. I b'lieve all Singleton wants to see me punished, and feel
as if they could tell when I've been punished long enough. It's a
long day ahead they'll set it, I reckon."
After the usual supply of fuel was prepared, Jim returned home.
Full of pity for Mag, he set about devising measures for her relief.
"By golly!" said he to himself one day—for he had become so
absorbed in Mag's interest that he had fallen into a habit of musing
aloud—"By golly! I wish she'd MARRY me."
"Who?" shouted Pete Greene, suddenly start- ing from an unobserved
corner of the rude shop.
"Where you come from, you sly nigger!" ex- claimed Jim.
"Come, tell me, who is't?" said Pete; "Mag Smith, you want to
"Git out, Pete! and when you come in dis shop again, let a nigger
know it. Don't steal in like a thief."
Pity and love know little severance. One attends the other. Jim
acknowledged the pres- ence of the former, and his efforts in Mag's
behalf told also of a finer principle.
This sudden expedient which he had uninten- tionally disclosed,
roused his thinking and invent- ive powers to study upon the best
method of introducing the subject to Mag.
He belted his barrels, with many a scheme re- volving in his mind,
none of which quite satisfied him, or seemed, on the whole, expedient.
He thought of the pleasing contrast between her fair face and his
own dark skin; the smooth, straight hair, which he had once, in
expression of pity, kindly stroked on her now wrinkled but once fair
brow. There was a tempest gathering in his heart, and at last, to
ease his pent-up passion, he exclaimed aloud, "By golly!"
Recollecting his former exposure, he glanced around to see if Pete
was in hearing again. Satisfied on this point, he continued: "She'd
be as much of a prize to me as she'd fall short of coming up to the
mark with white folks. I don't care for past things. I've done
things 'fore now I's 'shamed of. She's good enough for me, any how."
One more glance about the premises to be sure Pete was away.
The next Saturday night brought Jim to the hovel again. The cold
was fast coming to tarry its apportioned time. Mag was nearly
despairing of meeting its rigor.
"How's the wood, Mag?" asked Jim.
"All gone; and no more to cut, any how," was the reply.
"Too bad!" Jim said. His truthful reply would have been, I'm
"Anything to eat in the house?" continued he.
"No," replied Mag.
"Too bad!" again, orally, with the same INWARD gratulation as
"Well, Mag," said Jim, after a short pause, "you's down low
enough. I don't see but I've got to take care of ye. 'Sposin' we
Mag raised her eyes, full of amazement, and uttered a sonorous
Jim felt abashed for a moment. He knew well what were her
"You's had trial of white folks any how. They run off and left
ye, and now none of 'em come near ye to see if you's dead or alive.
I's black outside, I know, but I's got a white heart inside. Which
you rather have, a black heart in a white skin, or a white heart in a
"Oh, dear!" sighed Mag; "Nobody on earth cares for ME—"
"I do," interrupted Jim.
"I can do but two things," said she, "beg my living, or get it
"Take me, Mag. I can give you a better home than this, and not
let you suffer so."
He prevailed; they married. You can philos- ophize, gentle
reader, upon the impropriety of such unions, and preach dozens of
sermons on the evils of amalgamation. Want is a more power- ful
philosopher and preacher. Poor Mag. She has sundered another bond
which held her to her fellows. She has descended another step down
the ladder of infamy.
CHAPTER II. MY FATHER'S DEATH.
Misery! we have known each other,
Like a sister and a brother,
Living in the same lone home
Many years—we must live some
Hours or ages yet to come.
JIM, proud of his treasure,—a white wife,— tried hard to fulfil
his promises; and furnished her with a more comfortable dwelling,
diet, and apparel. It was comparatively a comfortable winter she
passed after her marriage. When Jim could work, all went on well.
Industrious, and fond of Mag, he was determined she should not
regret her union to him. Time levied an additional charge upon him,
in the form of two pretty mulattos, whose infantile pranks amply
repaid the additional toil. A few years, and a severe cough and pain
in his side compelled him to be an idler for weeks together, and Mag
had thus a reminder of by-gones. She cared for him only as a means
to subserve her own comfort; yet she nursed him faithfully and true to
mar- riage vows till death released her. He became the victim of
consumption. He loved Mag to the last. So long as life continued, he
stifled his sensibility to pain, and toiled for her sustenance long
after he was able to do so.
A few expressive wishes for her welfare; a hope of better days for
her; an anxiety lest they should not all go to the "good place;"
brief advice about their children; a hope ex- pressed that Mag would
not be neglected as she used to be; the manifestation of Christian pa-
tience; these were ALL the legacy of miserable Mag. A feeling of
cold desolation came over her, as she turned from the grave of one who
had been truly faithful to her.
She was now expelled from companionship with white people; this
last step—her union with a black—was the climax of repulsion.
Seth Shipley, a partner in Jim's business, wished her to remain in
her present home; but she declined, and returned to her hovel again,
with obstacles threefold more insurmountable than before. Seth
accompanied her, giving her a weekly allowance which furnished most of
the food necessary for the four inmates. After a time, work failed;
their means were reduced.
How Mag toiled and suffered, yielding to fits of desperation,
bursts of anger, and uttering curses too fearful to repeat. When both
were supplied with work, they prospered; if idle, they were hungry
together. In this way their inter- ests became united; they planned
for the future together. Mag had lived an outcast for years. She had
ceased to feel the gushings of peni- tence; she had crushed the sharp
agonies of an awakened conscience. She had no longings for a purer
heart, a better life. Far easier to descend lower. She entered the
darkness of perpetual infamy. She asked not the rite of civilization
or Christianity. Her will made her the wife of Seth. Soon followed
scenes familiar and trying.
"It's no use," said Seth one day; "we must give the children away,
and try to get work in some other place."
"Who'll take the black devils?" snarled Mag.
"They're none of mine," said Seth; "what you growling about?"
"Nobody will want any thing of mine, or yours either," she
"We'll make 'em, p'r'aps," he said. "There's Frado's six years
old, and pretty, if she is yours, and white folks'll say so. She'd be
a prize somewhere," he continued, tipping his chair back against the
wall, and placing his feet upon the rounds, as if he had much more to
say when in the right position.
Frado, as they called one of Mag's children, was a beautiful
mulatto, with long, curly black hair, and handsome, roguish eyes,
sparkling with an exuberance of spirit almost beyond restraint.
Hearing her name mentioned, she looked up from her play, to see
what Seth had to say of her.
"Wouldn't the Bellmonts take her?" asked Seth.
"Bellmonts?" shouted Mag. "His wife is a right she-devil! and
"Hadn't they better be all together?" inter- rupted Seth,
reminding her of a like epithet used in reference to her little ones.
Without seeming to notice him, she continued, "She can't keep a
girl in the house over a week; and Mr. Bellmont wants to hire a boy to
work for him, but he can't find one that will live in the house with
her; she's so ugly, they can't."
"Well, we've got to make a move soon," answered Seth; "if you go
with me, we shall go right off. Had you rather spare the other one?"
asked Seth, after a short pause.
"One's as bad as t'other," replied Mag. "Frado is such a wild,
frolicky thing, and means to do jest as she's a mind to; she won't go
if she don't want to. I don't want to tell her she is to be given
"I will," said Seth. "Come here, Frado?"
The child seemed to have some dim fore- shadowing of evil, and
"Come here," he continued; "I want to tell you something."
She came reluctantly. He took her hand and said: "We're going to
move, by-'m-bye; will you go?"
"No!" screamed she; and giving a sudden jerk which destroyed
Seth's equilibrium, left him sprawling on the floor, while she escaped
through the open door.
"She's a hard one," said Seth, brushing his patched coat sleeve.
"I'd risk her at Bell- mont's."
They discussed the expediency of a speedy departure. Seth would
first seek employment, and then return for Mag. They would take with
them what they could carry, and leave the rest with Pete Greene, and
come for them when they were wanted. They were long in arrang- ing
affairs satisfactorily, and were not a little startled at the close of
their conference to find Frado missing. They thought approaching
night would bring her. Twilight passed into dark- ness, and she did
not come. They thought she had understood their plans, and had,
perhaps, permanently withdrawn. They could not rest without making
some effort to ascertain her retreat. Seth went in pursuit, and
returned without her. They rallied others when they dis- covered
that another little colored girl was miss- ing, a favorite playmate of
Frado's. All effort proved unavailing. Mag felt sure her fears were
realized, and that she might never see her again. Before her
anxieties became realities, both were safely returned, and from them
and their attendant they learned that they went to walk, and not
minding the direction soon found themselves lost. They had climbed
fences and walls, passed through thickets and marshes, and when night
approached selected a thick cluster of shrubbery as a covert for the
night. They were discovered by the person who now restored them,
chatting of their prospects, Frado attempt- ing to banish the childish
fears of her com- panion. As they were some miles from home, they
were kindly cared for until morning. Mag was relieved to know her
child was not driven to desperation by their intentions to relieve
themselves of her, and she was inclined to think severe restraint
would be healthful.
The removal was all arranged; the few days necessary for such
migrations passed quickly, and one bright summer morning they bade
fare- well to their Singleton hovel, and with budgets and bundles
commenced their weary march. As they neared the village, they heard
the merry shouts of children gathered around the schoolroom, awaiting
the coming of their teacher.
"Halloo!" screamed one, "Black, white and yeller!" "Black, white
and yeller," echoed a dozen voices.
It did not grate so harshly on poor Mag as once it would. She did
not even turn her head to look at them. She had passed into an insen-
sibility no childish taunt could penetrate, else she would have
reproached herself as she passed familiar scenes, for extending the
separation once so easily annihilated by steadfast integrity. Two
miles beyond lived the Bellmonts, in a large, old fashioned, two-story
white house, en- vironed by fruitful acres, and embellished by
shrubbery and shade trees. Years ago a youth- ful couple consecrated
it as home; and after many little feet had worn paths to favorite
fruit trees, and over its green hills, and mingled at last with
brother man in the race which belongs neither to the swift or strong,
the sire became grey-haired and decrepit, and went to his last
repose. His aged consort soon followed him. The old homestead thus
passed into the hands of a son, to whose wife Mag had applied the
epithet "she-devil," as may be remembered. John, the son, had not in
his family arrange- ments departed from the example of the father.
The pastimes of his boyhood were ever freshly revived by witnessing
the games of his own sons as they rallied about the same goal his
youthful feet had often won; as well as by the amuse- ments of his
daughters in their imitations of maternal duties.
At the time we introduce them, however, John is wearing the badge
of age. Most of his children were from home; some seeking em-
ployment; some were already settled in homes of their own. A maiden
sister shared with him the estate on which he resided, and occupied a
portion of the house.
Within sight of the house, Seth seated himself with his bundles
and the child he had been lead- ing, while Mag walked onward to the
house leading Frado. A knock at the door brought Mrs. Bellmont, and
Mag asked if she would be willing to let that child stop there while
she went to the Reed's house to wash, and when she came back she
would call and get her. It seemed a novel request, but she consented.
Why the impetuous child entered the house, we cannot tell; the door
closed, and Mag hastily departed. Frado waited for the close of day,
which was to bring back her mother. Alas! it never came. It was the
last time she ever saw or heard of her mother.
CHAPTER III. A NEW HOME FOR ME.
Oh! did we but know of the shadows so nigh,
The world would indeed be a prison of gloom;
All light would be quenched in youth's eloquent eye,
And the prayer-lisping infant would ask for the tomb.
For if Hope be a star that may lead us astray,
And "deceiveth the heart," as the aged ones preach;
Yet 'twas Mercy that gave it, to beacon our way,
Though its halo illumes where it never can reach.
As the day closed and Mag did not appear, surmises were expressed
by the family that she never intended to return. Mr. Bellmont was a
kind, humane man, who would not grudge hospi- tality to the poorest
wanderer, nor fail to sym- pathize with any sufferer, however humble.
The child's desertion by her mother appealed to his sympathy, and he
felt inclined to succor her. To do this in opposition to Mrs.
Bellmont's wishes, would be like encountering a whirlwind charged
with fire, daggers and spikes. She was not as susceptible of fine
emotions as her spouse. Mag's opinion of her was not without founda-
tion. She was self-willed, haughty, undisciplined, arbitrary and
severe. In common parlance, she was a SCOLD, a thorough one. Mr. B.
remained silent during the consultation which follows, engaged in by
mother, Mary and John, or Jack, as he was familiarly called.
"Send her to the County House," said Mary, in reply to the query
what should be done with her, in a tone which indicated
self-importance in the speaker. She was indeed the idol of her
mother, and more nearly resembled her in dis- position and manners
than the others.
Jane, an invalid daughter, the eldest of those at home, was
reclining on a sofa apparently un- interested.
"Keep her," said Jack. "She's real hand- some and bright, and not
very black, either."
"Yes," rejoined Mary; "that's just like you, Jack. She'll be of
no use at all these three years, right under foot all the time."
"Poh! Miss Mary; if she should stay, it wouldn't be two days
before you would be telling the girls about OUR nig, OUR nig!"
"I don't want a nigger 'round ME, do you, mother?" asked Mary.
"I don't mind the nigger in the child. I should like a dozen
better than one," replied her mother. "If I could make her do my work
in a few years, I would keep her. I have so much trouble with girls
I hire, I am almost persuaded if I have one to train up in my way from
a child, I shall be able to keep them awhile. I am tired of changing
every few months."
"Where could she sleep?" asked Mary. "I don't want her near me."
"In the L chamber," answered the mother.
"How'll she get there?" asked Jack. "She'll be afraid to go
through that dark passage, and she can't climb the ladder safely."
"She'll have to go there; it's good enough for a nigger," was the
Jack was sent on horseback to ascertain if Mag was at her home.
He returned with the testimony of Pete Greene that they were fairly
departed, and that the child was intentionally thrust upon their
The imposition was not at all relished by Mrs. B., or the pert,
haughty Mary, who had just glided into her teens.
"Show the child to bed, Jack," said his mother. "You seem most
pleased with the little nigger, so you may introduce her to her room."
He went to the kitchen, and, taking Frado gently by the hand, told
her he would put her in bed now; perhaps her mother would come the
next night after her.
It was not yet quite dark, so they ascended the stairs without any
light, passing through nicely furnished rooms, which were a source of
great amazement to the child. He opened the door which connected
with her room by a dark, unfinished passage-way. "Don't bump your
head," said Jack, and stepped before to open the door leading into
her apartment,—an unfin- ished chamber over the kitchen, the roof
slant- ing nearly to the floor, so that the bed could stand only in
the middle of the room. A small half window furnished light and air.
Jack returned to the sitting room with the remark that the child
would soon outgrow those quarters.
"When she DOES, she'll outgrow the house," remarked the mother.
"What can she do to help you?" asked Mary. "She came just in the
right time, didn't she? Just the very day after Bridget left,"
"I'll see what she can do in the morning," was the answer.
While this conversation was passing below, Frado lay, revolving in
her little mind whether she would remain or not until her mother's
return. She was of wilful, determined nature, a stranger to fear,
and would not hesitate to wander away should she decide to. She
remem- bered the conversation of her mother with Seth, the words
"given away" which she heard used in reference to herself; and though
she did not know their full import, she thought she should, by
remaining, be in some relation to white people she was never favored
with before. So she resolved to tarry, with the hope that mother
would come and get her some time. The hot sun had penetrated her
room, and it was long before a cooling breeze reduced the temperature
so that she could sleep.
Frado was called early in the morning by her new mistress. Her
first work was to feed the hens. She was shown how it was ALWAYS to
be done, and in no other way; any departure from this rule to be
punished by a whipping. She was then accompanied by Jack to drive the
cows to pasture, so she might learn the way. Upon her return she was
allowed to eat her breakfast, consisting of a bowl of skimmed milk,
with brown bread crusts, which she was told to eat, standing, by the
kitchen table, and must not be over ten minutes about it. Meanwhile
the family were taking their morning meal in the dining-room. This
over, she was placed on a cricket to wash the common dishes; she was
to be in waiting always to bring wood and chips, to run hither and
thither from room to room.
A large amount of dish-washing for small hands followed dinner.
Then the same after tea and going after the cows finished her first
day's work. It was a new discipline to the child. She found some
attractions about the place, and she retired to rest at night more
willing to remain. The same routine followed day after day, with
slight variation; adding a little more work, and spicing the toil
with "words that burn," and fre- quent blows on her head. These were
great annoyances to Frado, and had she known where her mother was,
she would have gone at once to her. She was often greatly wearied,
and silently wept over her sad fate. At first she wept aloud, which
Mrs. Bellmont noticed by applying a raw- hide, always at hand in the
kitchen. It was a symptom of discontent and complaining which must
be "nipped in the bud," she said.
Thus passed a year. No intelligence of Mag. It was now certain
Frado was to become a per- manent member of the family. Her labors
were multiplied; she was quite indispensable, although but seven
years old. She had never learned to read, never heard of a school
until her residence in the family.
Mrs. Bellmont was in doubt about the utility of attempting to
educate people of color, who were incapable of elevation. This
subject occa- sioned a lengthy discussion in the family. Mr.
Bellmont, Jane and Jack arguing for Frado's education; Mary and her
mother objecting. At last Mr. Bellmont declared decisively that she
SHOULD go to school. He was a man who seldom decided controversies
at home. The word once spoken admitted of no appeal; so,
notwithstand- ing Mary's objection that she would have to attend the
same school she did, the word became law.
It was to be a new scene to Frado, and Jack had many queries and
conjectures to answer. He was himself too far advanced to attend the
summer school, which Frado regretted, having had too many
opportunities of witnessing Miss Mary's temper to feel safe in her
The opening day of school came. Frado sauntered on far in the
rear of Mary, who was ashamed to be seen "walking with a nigger." As
soon as she appeared, with scanty clothing and bared feet, the
children assembled, noisily published her approach: "See that nigger,"
shouted one. "Look! look!" cried another. "I won't play with her,"
said one little girl. "Nor I neither," replied another.
Mary evidently relished these sharp attacks, and saw a fair
prospect of lowering Nig where, according to her views, she belonged.
Poor Frado, chagrined and grieved, felt that her an- ticipations of
pleasure at such a place were far from being realized. She was just
deciding to return home, and never come there again, when the teacher
appeared, and observing the downcast looks of the child, took her by
the hand, and led her into the school-room. All fol- lowed, and,
after the bustle of securing seats was over, Miss Marsh inquired if
the children knew "any cause for the sorrow of that little girl?"
pointing to Frado. It was soon all told. She then reminded them of
their duties to the poor and friendless; their cowardice in attack-
ing a young innocent child; referred them to one who looks not on
outward appearances, but on the heart. "She looks like a good girl; I
think _I_ shall love her, so lay aside all prejudice, and vie with
each other in shewing kindness and good-will to one who seems
different from you," were the closing remarks of the kind lady. Those
kind words! The most agreeable sound which ever meets the ear of
sorrowing, griev- ing childhood.
Example rendered her words efficacious. Day by day there was a
manifest change of de- portment towards "Nig." Her speeches often
drew merriment from the children; no one could do more to enliven
their favorite pastimes than Frado. Mary could not endure to see her
thus noticed, yet knew not how to prevent it. She could not influence
her schoolmates as she wished. She had not gained their affections
by winning ways and yielding points of con- troversy. On the
contrary, she was self-willed, domineering; every day reported "mad"
by some of her companions. She availed herself of the only
alternative, abuse and taunts, as they returned from school. This was
not satis- factory; she wanted to use physical force "to subdue her,"
to "keep her down."
There was, on their way home, a field inter- sected by a stream
over which a single plank was placed for a crossing. It occurred to
Ma- ry that it would be a punishment to Nig to compel her to cross
over; so she dragged her to the edge, and told her authoritatively to
go over. Nig hesitated, resisted. Mary placed herself behind the
child, and, in the struggle to force her over, lost her footing and
plunged into the stream. Some of the larger scholars being in sight,
ran, and thus prevented Mary from drowning and Frado from falling.
Nig scampered home fast as possible, and Mary went to the nearest
house, dripping, to procure a change of garments. She came loitering
home, half crying, exclaiming, "Nig pushed me into the stream!" She
then related the particulars. Nig was called from the kitchen. Mary
stood with anger flashing in her eyes. Mr. Bellmont sat quietly
reading his paper. He had wit- nessed too many of Miss Mary's
outbreaks to be startled. Mrs. Bellmont interrogated Nig.
"I didn't do it! I didn't do it!" answered Nig, passionately, and
then related the occur- rence truthfully.
The discrepancy greatly enraged Mrs. Bell- mont. With loud
accusations and angry ges- tures she approached the child. Turning to
her husband, she asked,
"Will you sit still, there, and hear that black nigger call Mary a
"How do we know but she has told the truth? I shall not punish
her," he re- plied, and left the house, as he usually did when a
tempest threatened to envelop him. No sooner was he out of sight than
Mrs. B. and Mary commenced beating her inhumanly; then propping her
mouth open with a piece of wood, shut her up in a dark room, with-
out any supper. For employment, while the tempest raged within, Mr.
Bellmont went for the cows, a task belonging to Frado, and thus
unintentionally prolonged her pain. At dark Jack came in, and seeing
Mary, accosted her with, "So you thought you'd vent your spite on
Nig, did you? Why can't you let her alone? It was good enough for
you to get a ducking, only you did not stay in half long enough."
"Stop!" said his mother. "You shall never talk so before me. You
would have that little nigger trample on Mary, would you? She came
home with a lie; it made Mary's story false."
"What was Mary's story?" asked Jack.
It was related.
"Now," said Jack, sallying into a chair, "the school-children
happened to see it all, and they tell the same story Nig does. Which
is most likely to be true, what a dozen agree they saw, or the
"It is very strange you will believe what others say against your
sister," retorted his mother, with flashing eye. "I think it is time
your father subdued you."
"Father is a sensible man," argued Jack. "He would not wrong a
dog. Where IS Frado?" he continued.
"Mother gave her a good whipping and shut her up," replied Mary.
Just then Mr. Bellmont entered, and asked if Frado was "shut up
The knowledge of her innocence, the perfidy of his sister, worked
fearfully on Jack. He bounded from his chair, searched every room
till he found the child; her mouth wedged apart, her face swollen,
and full of pain.
How Jack pitied her! He relieved her jaws, brought her some
supper, took her to her room, comforted her as well as he knew how,
sat by her till she fell asleep, and then left for the sitting room.
As he passed his mother, he remarked, "If that was the way Frado was
to be treated, he hoped she would never wake again!" He then
imparted her situation to his father, who seemed untouched, till a
glance at Jack exposed a tear- ful eye. Jack went early to her next
morning. She awoke sad, but refreshed. After breakfast Jack took her
with him to the field, and kept her through the day. But it could not
be so generally. She must return to school, to her household duties.
He resolved to do what he could to protect her from Mary and his
mother. He bought her a dog, which became a great favorite with both.
The invalid, Jane, would gladly befriend her; but she had not the
strength to brave the iron will of her mother. Kind words and
affectionate glances were the only expressions of sympathy she could
safely indulge in. The men employed on the farm were always glad to
hear her prattle; she was a great favorite with them. Mrs. Bellmont
al- lowed them the privilege of talking with her in the kitchen. She
did not fear but she should have ample opportunity of subduing her
when they were away. Three months of schooling, summer and winter,
she enjoyed for three years. Her winter over-dress was a cast-off
overcoat, once worn by Jack, and a sun-bonnet. It was a source of
great merriment to the scholars, but Nig's retorts were so mirthful,
and their satisfac- tion so evident in attributing the selection to
"Old Granny Bellmont," that it was not painful to Nig or pleasurable
to Mary. Her jollity was not to be quenched by whipping or scolding.
In Mrs. Bellmont's presence she was under re- straint; but in the
kitchen, and among her schoolmates, the pent up fires burst forth.
She was ever at some sly prank when unseen by her teacher, in school
hours; not unfrequently some outburst of merriment, of which she was
the original, was charged upon some innocent mate, and punishment
inflicted which she merited. They enjoyed her antics so fully that any
of them would suffer wrongfully to keep open the avenues of mirth.
She would venture far be- yond propriety, thus shielded and
The teacher's desk was supplied with drawers, in which were stored
his books and other et ceteras of the profession. The children
observed Nig very busy there one morning before school, as they
flitted in occasionally from their play outside. The master came;
called the children to order; opened a drawer to take the book the
occasion required; when out poured a volume of smoke. "Fire! fire!"
screamed he, at the top of his voice. By this time he had become suf-
ficiently acquainted with the peculiar odor, to know he was imposed
upon. The scholars shouted with laughter to see the terror of the
dupe, who, feeling abashed at the needless fright, made no very
strict investigation, and Nig once more escaped punishment. She had
provided herself with cigars, and puffing, puffing away at the crack
of the drawer, had filled it with smoke, and then closed it tightly to
deceive the teacher, and amuse the scholars. The interim of terms
was filled up with a variety of duties new and peculiar. At home, no
matter how powerful the heat when sent to rake hay or guard the
grazing herd, she was never permitted to shield her skin from the
sun. She was not many shades darker than Mary now; what a calamity
it would be ever to hear the contrast spoken of. Mrs. Bellmont was
determined the sun should have full power to darken the shade which
nature had first bestowed upon her as best befitting.
CHAPTER IV. A FRIEND FOR NIG.
"Hours of my youth! when nurtured in my breast,
To love a stranger, friendship made me blest:—
Friendship, the dear peculiar bond of youth,
When every artless bosom throbs with truth;
Untaught by worldly wisdom how to feign;
And check each impulse with prudential reign;
When all we feel our honest souls disclose—
In love to friends, in open hate to foes;
No varnished tales the lips of youth repeat,
No dear-bought knowledge purchased by deceit."
WITH what differing emotions have the deni- zens of earth awaited
the approach of to-day. Some sufferer has counted the vibrations of
the pendulum impatient for its dawn, who, now that it has arrived, is
anxious for its close. The vo- tary of pleasure, conscious of
yesterday's void, wishes for power to arrest time's haste till a few
more hours of mirth shall be enjoyed. The un- fortunate are yet
gazing in vain for golden- edged clouds they fancied would appear in
their horizon. The good man feels that he has accom- plished too
little for the Master, and sighs that another day must so soon close.
Innocent child- hood, weary of its stay, longs for another mor- row;
busy manhood cries, hold! hold! and pur- sues it to another's dawn.
All are dissatisfied. All crave some good not yet possessed, which
time is expected to bring with all its morrows.
Was it strange that, to a disconsolate child, three years should
seem a long, long time? During school time she had rest from Mrs.
Bell- mont's tyranny. She was now nine years old; time, her mistress
said, such privileges should cease.
She could now read and spell, and knew the elementary steps in
grammar, arithmetic, and writing. Her education completed, as SHE
said, Mrs. Bellmont felt that her time and person belonged solely to
her. She was under her in every sense of the word. What an
opportunity to indulge her vixen nature! No matter what occurred to
ruffle her, or from what source provocation came, real or fancied, a
few blows on Nig seemed to relieve her of a portion of ill-will.
These were days when Fido was the entire confidant of Frado. She
told him her griefs as though he were human; and he sat so still, and
listened so attentively, she really believed he knew her sorrows.
All the leisure moments she could gain were used in teaching him some
feat of dog-agility, so that Jack pronounced him very knowing, and
was truly gratified to know he had furnished her with a gift answering
Fido was the constant attendant of Frado, when sent from the house
on errands, going and returning with the cows, out in the fields, to
the village. If ever she forgot her hardships it was in his company.
Spring was now retiring. James, one of the absent sons, was
expected home on a visit. He had never seen the last acquisition to
the family. Jack had written faithfully of all the merits of his
colored protege, and hinted plainly that mother did not always treat
her just right. Many were the preparations to make the visit
pleasant, and as the day approached when he was to arrive, great
exertions were made to cook the favorite viands, to prepare the
The morning of the arrival day was a busy one. Frado knew not who
would be of so much importance; her feet were speeding hither and
thither so unsparingly. Mrs. Bellmont seemed a trifle fatigued, and
her shoes which had, early in the morning, a methodic squeak, altered
to an irregular, peevish snap.
"Get some little wood to make the fire burn," said Mrs. Bellmont,
in a sharp tone. Frado obeyed, bringing the smallest she could find.
Mrs. Bellmont approached her, and, giving her a box on her ear,
reiterated the command.
The first the child brought was the smallest to be found; of
course, the second must be a trifle larger. She well knew it was, as
she threw it into a box on the hearth. To Mrs. Bellmont it was a
greater affront, as well as larger wood, so she "taught her" with the
raw-hide, and sent her the third time for "little wood."
Nig, weeping, knew not what to do. She had carried the smallest;
none left would suit her mistress; of course further punishment await-
ed her; so she gathered up whatever came first, and threw it down on
the hearth. As she ex- pected, Mrs. Bellmont, enraged, approached
her, and kicked her so forcibly as to throw her upon the floor.
Before she could rise, another foiled the attempt, and then followed
kick after kick in quick succession and power, till she reached the
door. Mr. Bellmont and Aunt Abby, hearing the noise, rushed in, just
in time to see the last of the performance. Nig jumped up, and rushed
from the house, out of sight.
Aunt Abby returned to her apartment, fol- lowed by John, who was
muttering to himself.
"What were you saying?" asked Aunt Abby.
"I said I hoped the child never would come into the house again."
"What would become of her? You cannot mean THAT," continued his
"I do mean it. The child does as much work as a woman ought to;
and just see how she is kicked about!"
"Why do you have it so, John?" asked his sister.
"How am I to help it? Women rule the earth, and all in it."
"I think I should rule my own house, John,"—
"And live in hell meantime," added Mr. Bellmont.
John now sauntered out to the barn to await the quieting of the
Aunt Abby had a glimpse of Nig as she passed out of the yard; but
to arrest her, or shew her that SHE would shelter her, in Mrs.
Bellmont's presence, would only bring reserved wrath on her
defenceless head. Her sister-in- law had great prejudices against
her. One cause of the alienation was that she did not give her right
in the homestead to John, and leave it forever; another was that she
was a professor of religion, (so was Mrs. Bellmont;) but Nab, as she
called her, did not live accord- ing to her profession; another, that
she WOULD sometimes give Nig cake and pie, which she was never
allowed to have at home. Mary had often noticed and spoken of her
The dinner hour passed. Frado had not ap- peared. Mrs. B. made
no inquiry or search. Aunt Abby looked long, and found her con-
cealed in an outbuilding. "Come into the house with me," implored
"I ain't going in any more," sobbed the child.
"What will you do?" asked Aunt Abby.
"I've got to stay out here and die. I ha'n't got no mother, no
home. I wish I was dead."
"Poor thing," muttered Aunt Abby; and slyly providing her with
some dinner, left her to her grief.
Jane went to confer with her Aunt about the affair; and learned
from her the retreat. She would gladly have concealed her in her own
chamber, and ministered to her wants; but she was dependent on Mary
and her mother for care, and any displeasure caused by attention to
Nig, was seriously felt.
Toward night the coach brought James. A time of general greeting,
inquiries for absent members of the family, a visit to Aunt Abby's
room, undoing a few delicacies for Jane, brought them to the tea
"Where's Frado?" asked Mr. Bellmont, ob- serving she was not in
her usual place, behind her mistress' chair.
"I don't know, and I don't care. If she makes her appearance
again, I'll take the skin from her body," replied his wife.
James, a fine looking young man, with a pleasant countenance,
placid, and yet decidedly serious, yet not stern, looked up
confounded. He was no stranger to his mother's nature; but years of
absence had erased the occurrences once so familiar, and he asked, "Is
this that pretty little Nig, Jack writes to me about, that you are so
severe upon, mother?"
"I'll not leave much of her beauty to be seen, if she comes in
sight; and now, John," said Mrs. B., turning to her husband, "you need
not think you are going to learn her to treat me in this way; just
see how saucy she was this morning. She shall learn her place."
Mr. Bellmont raised his calm, determined eye full upon her, and
said, in a decisive manner: "You shall not strike, or scald, or skin
her, as you call it, if she comes back again. Remember!" and he
brought his hand down upon the table. "I have searched an hour for her
now, and she is not to be found on the premises. Do YOU know where
she is? Is she YOUR prisoner?"
"No! I have just told you I did not know where she was. Nab has
her hid somewhere, I suppose. Oh, dear! I did not think it would
come to this; that my own husband would treat me so." Then came fast
flowing tears, which no one but Mary seemed to notice. Jane crept
into Aunt Abby's room; Mr. Bellmont and James went out of doors, and
Mary remained to condole with her parent.
"Do you know where Frado is?" asked Jane of her aunt.
"No," she replied. "I have hunted every- where. She has left her
first hiding-place. I cannot think what has become of her. There
comes Jack and Fido; perhaps he knows;" and she walked to a window
near, where James and his father were conversing together.
The two brothers exchanged a hearty greet- ing, and then Mr.
Bellmont told Jack to eat his supper; afterward he wished to send him
away. He immediately went in. Accustomed to all the phases of indoor
storms, from a whine to thunder and lightning, he saw at a glance
marks of disturbance. He had been absent through the day, with the
"What's the fuss?" asked he, rushing into Aunt Abby's.
"Eat your supper," said Jane; "go home, Jack."
Back again through the dining-room, and out to his father.
"What's the fuss?" again inquired he of his father.
"Eat your supper, Jack, and see if you can find Frado. She's not
been seen since morning, and then she was kicked out of the house."
"I shan't eat my supper till I find her," said Jack, indignantly.
"Come, James, and see the little creature mother treats so."
They started, calling, searching, coaxing, all their way along.
No Frado. They returned to the house to consult. James and Jack
declared they would not sleep till she was found.
Mrs. Bellmont attempted to dissuade them from the search. "It was
a shame a little NIGGER should make so much trouble."
Just then Fido came running up, and Jack exclaimed, "Fido knows
where she is, I'll bet."
"So I believe," said his father; "but we shall not be wiser unless
we can outwit him. He will not do what his mistress forbids him."
"I know how to fix him," said Jack. Taking a plate from the
table, which was still waiting, he called, "Fido! Fido! Frado wants
some sup- per. Come!" Jack started, the dog followed, and soon
capered on before, far, far into the fields, over walls and through
fences, into a piece of swampy land. Jack followed close, and soon
appeared to James, who was quite in the rear, coaxing and forcing
Frado along with him.
A frail child, driven from shelter by the cru- elty of his mother,
was an object of interest to James. They persuaded her to go home
with them, warmed her by the kitchen fire, gave her a good supper,
and took her with them into the sitting-room.
"Take that nigger out of my sight," was Mrs. Bellmont's command,
before they could be seated.
James led her into Aunt Abby's, where he knew they were welcome.
They chatted awhile until Frado seemed cheerful; then James led her
to her room, and waited until she retired.
"Are you glad I've come home?" asked James.
"Yes; if you won't let me be whipped to- morrow."
"You won't be whipped. You must try to be a good girl,"
"If I do, I get whipped," sobbed the child. "They won't believe
what I say. Oh, I wish I had my mother back; then I should not be
kicked and whipped so. Who made me so?"
"God," answered James.
"Did God make you?"
"Who made Aunt Abby?"
"Who made your mother?"
"Did the same God that made her make me?"
"Well, then, I don't like him."
"Because he made her white, and me black. Why didn't he make us
"I don't know; try to go to sleep, and you will feel better in the
morning," was all the re- ply he could make to her knotty queries. It
was a long time before she fell asleep; and a number of days before
James felt in a mood to visit and entertain old associates and
CHAPTER V. DEPARTURES.
Life is a strange avenue of various trees and flowers;
Lightsome at commencement, but darkening to its end in a distant,
It beginneth as a little path, edged with the violet and primrose,
A little path of lawny grass and soft to tiny feet.
Soon, spring thistles in the way.
JAMES' visit concluded. Frado had become greatly attached to him,
and with sorrow she listened and joined in the farewells which pre-
ceded his exit. The remembrance of his kind- ness cheered her
through many a weary month, and an occasional word to her in letters
to Jack, were like "cold waters to a thirsty soul." In- telligence
came that James would soon marry; Frado hoped he would, and remove her
from such severe treatment as she was subject to. There had been
additional burdens laid on her since his return. She must now MILK
the cows, she had then only to drive. Flocks of sheep had been added
to the farm, which daily claimed a portion of her time. In the
absence of the men, she must harness the horse for Mary and her
mother to ride, go to mill, in short, do the work of a boy, could one
be procured to endure the tirades of Mrs. Bellmont. She was first up
in the morning, doing what she could towards breakfast.
Occasionally, she would utter some funny thing for Jack's benefit,
while she was waiting on the table, provoking a sharp look from his
mother, or expulsion from the room.
On one such occasion, they found her on the roof of the barn.
Some repairs having been necessary, a staging had been erected, and
was not wholly removed. Availing herself of lad- ders, she was
mounted in high glee on the top- most board. Mr. Bellmont called
sternly for her to come down; poor Jane nearly fainted from fear.
Mrs. B. and Mary did not care if she "broke her neck," while Jack and
the men laughed at her fearlessness. Strange, one spark of
playfulness could remain amid such constant toil; but her natural
temperament was in a high degree mirthful, and the encouragement she
received from Jack and the hired men, con- stantly nurtured the
inclination. When she had none of the family around to be merry with,
she would amuse herself with the animals. Among the sheep was a
willful leader, who al- ways persisted in being first served, and many
times in his fury he had thrown down Nig, till, provoked, she
resolved to punish him. The pas- ture in which the sheep grazed was
founded on three sides by a wide stream, which flowed on one side at
the base of precipitous banks. The first spare moments at her
command, she ran to the pasture with a dish in her hand, and mount-
ing the highest point of land nearest the stream, called the flock to
their mock repast. Mr. Bell- mont, with his laborers, were in sight,
though unseen by Frado. They paused to see what she was about to do.
Should she by any mishap lose her footing, she must roll into the
stream, and, without aid, must drown. They thought of shouting; but
they feared an unexpected salute might startle her, and thus ensure
what they were anxious to prevent. They watched in breathless
silence. The willful sheep came furi- ously leaping and bounding far
in advance of the flock. Just as he leaped for the dish, she
suddenly jumped to one side, when down he rolled into the river, and
swimming across, remained alone till night. The men lay down,
convulsed with laughter at the trick, and guessed at once its object.
Mr. Bellmont talked seriously to the child for exposing herself to
such danger; but she hopped about on her toes, and with laugha- ble
grimaces replied, she knew she was quick enough to "give him a slide."
But to return. James married a Baltimorean lady of wealthy
parentage, an indispensable requisite, his mother had always taught
him. He did not marry her wealth, though; he loved HER, sincerely.
She was not unlike his sister Jane, who had a social, gentle, loving
nature, rather TOO yielding, her brother thought. His Susan had a
firmness which Jane needed to complete her character, but which her
ill health may in a measure have failed to produce. Al- though an
invalid, she was not excluded from society. Was it strange SHE should
seem a desir- able companion, a treasure as a wife?
Two young men seemed desirous of possess- ing her. One was a
neighbor, Henry Reed, a tall, spare young man, with sandy hair, and
blue, sinister eyes. He seemed to appreciate her wants, and watch
with interest her improvement or decay. His kindness she received,
and by it was almost won. Her mother wished her to en- courage his
attentions. She had counted the acres which were to be transmitted to
an only son; she knew there was silver in the purse; she would not
have Jane too sentimental.
The eagerness with which he amassed wealth, was repulsive to Jane;
he did not spare his per- son or beasts in its pursuit. She felt that
to such a man she should be considered an incum- brance; she doubted
if he would desire her, if he did not know she would bring a handsome
patrimony. Her mother, full in favor with the parents of Henry,
commanded her to accept him. She engaged herself, yielding to her
mother's wishes, because she had not strength to oppose them; and
sometimes, when witness of her mother's and Mary's tyranny, she felt
any change would be preferable, even such a one as this. She knew
her husband should be the man of her own selecting, one she was
conscious of preferring before all others. She could not say this of
In this dilemma, a visitor came to Aunt Abby's; one of her
boy-favorites, George Means, from an adjoining State. Sensible, plain
looking, agreeable, talented, he could not long be a stranger to any
one who wished to know him. Jane was accustomed to sit much with Aunt
Abby always; her presence now seemed neces- sary to assist in
entertaining this youthful friend. Jane was more pleased with him each
day, and silently wished Henry possessed more refinement, and the
polished manners of George. She felt dissatisfied with her relation
to him. His calls while George was there, brought their opposing
qualities vividly before her, and she found it disagreeable to force
herself into those atten- tions belonging to him. She received him
ap- parently only as a neighbor.
George returned home, and Jane endeavored to stifle the risings of
dissatisfaction, and had nearly succeeded, when a letter came which
needed but one glance to assure her of its birth- place; and she
retired for its perusal. Well was it for her that her mother's
suspicion was not aroused, or her curiosity startled to inquire who
it came from. After reading it, she glided into Aunt Abby's, and
placed it in her hands, who was no stranger to Jane's trials.
George could not rest after his return, he wrote, until he had
communicated to Jane the emotions her presence awakened, and his
desire to love and possess her as his own. He begged to know if his
affections were reciprocated, or could be; if she would permit him to
write to her; if she was free from all obligation to another.
"What would mother say?" queried Jane, as she received the letter
from her aunt.
"Not much to comfort you."
"Now, aunt, George is just such a man as I could really love, I
think, from all I have seen of him; you know I never could say that of
"Then don't marry him," interrupted Aunt Abby.
"Mother will make me."
"Your father won't."
"Well, aunt, what can I do? Would you answer the letter, or not?"
"Yes, answer it. Tell him your situation."
"I shall not tell him all my feelings."
Jane answered that she had enjoyed his com- pany much; she had
seen nothing offensive in his manner or appearance; that she was under
no obligations which forbade her receiving let- ters from him as a
friend and acquaintance. George was puzzled by the reply. He wrote to
Aunt Abby, and from her learned all. He could not see Jane thus
sacrificed, without mak- ing an effort to rescue her. Another visit
fol- lowed. George heard Jane say she preferred HIM. He then
conferred with Henry at his home. It was not a pleasant subject to
talk upon. To be thus supplanted, was not to be thought of. He
would sacrifice everything but his inheritance to secure his
"And so you are the cause of her late cold- ness towards me.
Leave! I will talk no more about it; the business is settled between
us; there it will remain," said Henry.
"Have you no wish to know the real state of Jane's affections
towards you?" asked George.
"No! Go, I say! go!" and Henry opened the door for him to pass
He retired to Aunt Abby's. Henry soon fol- lowed, and presented
his cause to Mrs. Bellmont.
Provoked, surprised, indignant, she summoned Jane to her presence,
and after a lengthy tirade upon Nab, and her satanic influence, told
her she could not break the bonds which held her to Henry; she should
not. George Means was rightly named; he was, truly, mean enough; she
knew his family of old; his father had four wives, and five times as
"Go to your room, Miss Jane," she continued. "Don't let me know of
your being in Nab's for one while."
The storm was now visible to all beholders. Mr. Bellmont sought
Jane. She told him her ob- jections to Henry; showed him George's
letter; told her answer, the occasion of his visit. He bade her not
make herself sick; he would see that she was not compelled to violate
her free choice in so important a transaction. He then sought the
two young men; told them he could not as a father see his child
compelled to an un- congenial union; a free, voluntary choice was of
such importance to one of her health. She must be left free to her
Jane sent Henry a letter of dismission; he her one of a legal
bearing, in which he balanced his disappointment by a few hundreds.
To brave her mother's fury, nearly overcame her, but the
consolation of a kind father and aunt cheered her on. After a
suitable interval she was married to George, and removed to his home
in Vermont. Thus another light disap- peared from Nig's horizon.
Another was soon to follow. Jack was anxious to try his skill in
pro- viding for his own support; so a situation as clerk in a store
was procured in a Western city, and six months after Jane's departure,
was Nig abandoned to the tender mercies of Mary and her mother. As
if to remove the last vestige of earthly joy, Mrs. Bellmont sold the
companion and pet of Frado, the dog Fido.
CHAPTER VI. VARIETIES.
"Hard are life's early steps; and but that youth is buoyant, con-
fident, and strong in hope, men would behold its threshold and
THE sorrow of Frado was very great for her pet, and Mr. Bellmont
by great exertion obtained it again, much to the relief of the child.
To be thus deprived of all her sources of pleasure was a sure way to
exalt their worth, and Fido became, in her estimation, a more valuable
presence than the human beings who surrounded her.
James had now been married a number of years, and frequent
requests for a visit from the family were at last accepted, and Mrs.
Bellmont made great preparations for a fall sojourn in Baltimore.
Mary was installed housekeeper—in name merely, for Nig was the only
moving power in the house. Although suffering from their joint
severity, she felt safer than to be thrown wholly upon an ardent,
passionate, unrestrained young lady, whom she always hated and felt it
hard to be obliged to obey. The trial she must meet. Were Jack or
Jane at home she would have some refuge; one only remained; good Aunt
Abby was still in the house.
She saw the fast receding coach which con- veyed her master and
mistress with regret, and begged for one favor only, that James would
send for her when they returned, a hope she had confidently cherished
all these five years.
She was now able to do all the washing, iron- ing, baking, and the
common et cetera of house- hold duties, though but fourteen. Mary
left all for her to do, though she affected great responsi- bility.
She would show herself in the kitchen long enough to relieve herself
of some command, better withheld; or insist upon some compliance to
her wishes in some department which she was very imperfectly
acquainted with, very much less than the person she was addressing;
and so im- petuous till her orders were obeyed, that to escape the
turmoil, Nig would often go contrary to her own knowledge to gain a
Nig was taken sick! What could be done The WORK, certainly, but
not by Miss Mary. So Nig would work while she could remain erect,
then sink down upon the floor, or a chair, till she could rally for a
fresh effort. Mary would look in upon her, chide her for her
laziness, threaten to tell mother when she came home, and so forth.
"Nig!" screamed Mary, one of her sickest days, "come here, and
sweep these threads from the carpet." She attempted to drag her weary
limbs along, using the broom as support. Impa- tient of delay, she
called again, but with a differ- ent request. "Bring me some wood,
you lazy jade, quick." Nig rested the broom against the wall, and
started on the fresh behest.
Too long gone. Flushed with anger, she rose and greeted her with,
"What are you gone so long for? Bring it in quick, I say."
"I am coming as quick as I can," she replied, entering the door.
"Saucy, impudent nigger, you! is this the way you answer me?" and
taking a large carving knife from the table, she hurled it, in her
rage, at the defenceless girl.
Dodging quickly, it fastened in the ceiling a few inches from
where she stood. There rushed on Mary's mental vision a picture of
bloodshed, in which she was the perpetrator, and the sad consequences
of what was so nearly an actual occurrence.
"Tell anybody of this, if you dare. If you tell Aunt Abby, I'll
certainly kill you," said she, terrified. She returned to her room,
brushed her threads herself; was for a day or two more guarded, and
so escaped deserved and merited penalty.
Oh, how long the weeks seemed which held Nig in subjection to
Mary; but they passed like all earth's sorrows and joys. Mr. and Mrs.
B. returned delighted with their visit, and laden with rich presents
for Mary. No word of hope for Nig. James was quite unwell, and would
come home the next spring for a visit.
This, thought Nig, will be my time of release. I shall go back
From early dawn until after all were retired, was she toiling,
overworked, disheartened, long- ing for relief.
Exposure from heat to cold, or the reverse, often destroyed her
health for short intervals. She wore no shoes until after frost, and
snow even, appeared; and bared her feet again before the last vestige
of winter disappeared. These sudden changes she was so illy guarded
against, nearly conquered her physical system. Any word of complaint
was severely repulsed or cru- elly punished.
She was told she had much more than she deserved. So that manual
labor was not in reality her only burden; but such an incessant
torrent of scolding and boxing and threatening, was enough to deter
one of maturer years from remaining within sound of the strife.
It is impossible to give an impression of the manifest enjoyment
of Mrs. B. in these kitchen scenes. It was her favorite exercise to
enter the apartment noisily, vociferate orders, give a few sudden
blows to quicken Nig's pace, then return to the sitting room with SUCH
a satis- fied expression, congratulating herself upon her thorough
She usually rose in the morning at the ring- ing of the bell for
breakfast; if she were heard stirring before that time, Nig knew well
there was an extra amount of scolding to be borne.
No one now stood between herself and Frado, but Aunt Abby. And if
SHE dared to interfere in the least, she was ordered back to her "own
quarters." Nig would creep slyly into her room, learn what she could
of her regarding the absent, and thus gain some light in the thick
gloom of care and toil and sorrow in which she was immersed.
The first of spring a letter came from James, announcing declining
health. He must try northern air as a restorative; so Frado joyfully
prepared for this agreeable increase of the family, this addition to
He arrived feeble, lame, from his disease, so changed Frado wept
at his appearance, fearing he would be removed from her forever. He
kindly greeted her, took her to the parlor to see his wife and child,
and said many things to kindle smiles on her sad face.
Frado felt so happy in his presence, so safe from maltreatment!
He was to her a shelter. He observed, silently, the ways of the house
a few days; Nig still took her meals in the same manner as formerly,
having the same allowance of food. He, one day, bade her not remove
the food, but sit down to the table and eat.
"She WILL, mother," said he, calmly, but impera- tively; I'm
determined; she works hard; I've watched her. Now, while I stay, she
is going to sit down HERE, and eat such food as we eat."
A few sparks from the mother's black eyes were the only reply; she
feared to oppose where she knew she could not prevail. So Nig's
stand- ing attitude, and selected diet vanished.
Her clothing was yet poor and scanty; she was not blessed with a
Sunday attire; for she was never permitted to attend church with her
mis- tress. "Religion was not meant for niggers," SHE said; when the
husband and brothers were absent, she would drive Mrs. B. and Mary
there, then return, and go for them at the close of the service, but
never remain. Aunt Abby would take her to evening meetings, held in
the neigh- borhood, which Mrs. B. never attended; and im- part to her
lessons of truth and grace as they walked to the place of prayer.
Many of less piety would scorn to present so doleful a figure;
Mrs. B. had shaved her glossy ringlets; and, in her coarse cloth gown
and an- cient bonnet, she was anything but an enticing object. But
Aunt Abby looked within. She saw a soul to save, an immortality of
happi- ness to secure.
These evenings were eagerly anticipated by Nig; it was such a
pleasant release from labor.
Such perfect contrast in the melody and pray- ers of these good
people to the harsh tones which fell on her ears during the day.
Soon she had all their sacred songs at com- mand, and enlivened
her toil by accompanying it with this melody.
James encouraged his aunt in her efforts. He had found the
SAVIOUR, he wished to have Frado's desolate heart gladdened, quieted,
sustained, by HIS presence. He felt sure there were elements in her
heart which, transformed and purified by the gospel, would make her
worthy the esteem and friendship of the world. A kind, affection-
ate heart, native wit, and common sense, and the pertness she
sometimes exhibited, he felt if restrained properly, might become
useful in originating a self-reliance which would be of ser- vice to
her in after years.
Yet it was not possible to compass all this, while she remained
where she was. He wished to be cautious about pressing too closely
her claims on his mother, as it would increase the burdened one he so
anxiously wished to relieve. He cheered her on with the hope of
returning with his family, when he recovered sufficiently.
Nig seemed awakened to new hopes and aspirations, and realized a
longing for the future, hitherto unknown.
To complete Nig's enjoyment, Jack arrived unexpectedly. His
greeting was as hearty to herself as to any of the family.
"Where are your curls, Fra?" asked Jack, after the usual
"Your mother cut them off."
"Thought you were getting handsome, did she? Same old story, is
it; knocks and bumps? Better times coming; never fear, Nig."
How different this appellative sounded from him; he said it in
such a tone, with such a rogueish look!
She laughed, and replied that he had better take her West for a
Jack was pleased with James's innovations of table discipline, and
would often tarry in the dining-room, to see Nig in her new place at
the family table. As he was thus sitting one day, after the family
had finished dinner, Frado seated herself in her mistress' chair, and
was just reaching for a clean dessert plate which was on the table,
when her mistress entered.
"Put that plate down; you shall not have a clean one; eat from
mine," continued she. Nig hesitated. To eat after James, his wife or
Jack, would have been pleasant; but to be command- ed to do what was
disagreeable by her mistress, BECAUSE it was disagreeable, was trying.
Quickly looking about, she took the plate, called Fido to wash it,
which he did to the best of his ability; then, wiping her knife and
fork on the cloth, she proceeded to eat her dinner.
Nig never looked toward her mistress during the process. She had
Jack near; she did not fear her now.
Insulted, full of rage, Mrs. Bellmont rushed to her husband, and
commanded him to notice this insult; to whip that child; if he would
not do it, James ought.
James came to hear the kitchen version of the affair. Jack was
boiling over with laughter. He related all the circumstances to
James, and pulling a bright, silver half-dollar from his pocket, he
threw it at Nig, saying, "There, take that; 'twas worth paying for."
James sought his mother; told her he "would not excuse or palliate
Nig's impudence; but she should not be whipped or be punished at all.
You have not treated her, mother, so as to gain her love; she is only
exhibiting your remissness in this matter."
She only smothered her resentment until a convenient opportunity
offered. The first time she was left alone with Nig, she gave her a
thorough beating, to bring up arrearages; and threatened, if she ever
exposed her to James, she would "cut her tongue out."
James found her, upon his return, sobbing; but fearful of revenge,
she dared not answer his queries. He guessed their cause, and longed
for returning health to take her under his pro- tection.
CHAPTER VII. SPIRITUAL CONDITION OF
"What are our joys but dreams? and what our hopes
But goodly shadows in the summer cloud?"
H. K. W.
JAMES did not improve as was hoped. Month after month passed
away, and brought no pros- pect of returning health. He could not
walk far from the house for want of strength; but he loved to sit
with Aunt Abby in her quiet room, talking of unseen glories, and
heart-experiences, while planning for the spiritual benefit of those
around them. In these confidential interviews, Frado was never
omitted. They would discuss the prevalent opinion of the public, that
people of color are really inferior; incapable of cultiva- tion and
refinement. They would glance at the qualities of Nig, which promised
so much if rightly directed. "I wish you would take her, James, when
you are well, home with YOU," said Aunt Abby, in one of these seasons.
"Just what I am longing to do, Aunt Abby. Susan is just of my
mind, and we intend to take her; I have been wishing to do so for
"She seems much affected by what she hears at the evening
meetings, and asks me many questions on serious things; seems to love
to read the Bible; I feel hopes of her."
"I hope she IS thoughtful; no one has a kinder heart, one capable
of loving more devotedly. But to think how prejudiced the world are
to- wards her people; that she must be reared in such ignorance as to
drown all the finer feelings. When I think of what she might be, of
what she will be, I feel like grasping time till opinions change, and
thousands like her rise into a noble freedom. I have seen Frado's
grief, because she is black, amount to agony. It makes me sick to
recall these scenes. Mother pretends to think she don't know enough
to sorrow for anything; but if she could see her as I have, when she
sup- posed herself entirely alone, except her little dog Fido,
lamenting her loneliness and complexion, I think, if she is not past
feeling, she would retract. In the summer I was walking near the barn,
and as I stood I heard sobs. 'Oh! oh!' I heard, 'why was I made? why
can't I die? Oh, what have I to live for? No one cares for me only
to get my work. And I feel sick; who cares for that? Work as long
as I can stand, and then fall down and lay there till I can get up.
No mother, father, brother or sister to care for me, and then it is,
You lazy nigger, lazy nigger—all because I am black! Oh, if I could
"I stepped into the barn, where I could see her. She was crouched
down by the hay with her faithful friend Fido, and as she ceased
speak- ing, buried her face in her hands, and cried bit- terly; then,
patting Fido, she kissed him, saying, 'You love me, Fido, don't you?
but we must go work in the field.' She started on her mission; I
called her to me, and told her she need not go, the hay was doing
"She has such confidence in me that she will do just as I tell
her; so we found a seat under a shady tree, and there I took the
opportunity to combat the notions she seemed to entertain respecting
the loneliness of her condition and want of sympathizing friends. I
assured her that mother's views were by no means general; that in our
part of the country there were thousands upon thousands who favored
the elevation of her race, disapproving of oppression in all its
forms; that she was not unpitied, friendless, and utterly despised;
that she might hope for better things in the future. Having spoken
these words of comfort, I rose with the resolution that if I
recovered my health I would take her home with me, whether mother was
willing or not."
"I don't know what your mother would do without her; still, I wish
she was away."
Susan now came for her long absent husband, and they returned home
to their room.
The month of November was one of great anxiety on James's account.
He was rapidly wasting away.
A celebrated physician was called, and per- formed a surgical
operation, as a last means. Should this fail, there was no hope. Of
course he was confined wholly to his room, mostly to his bed. With
all his bodily suffering, all his anxiety for his family, whom he
might not live to protect, he did not forget Frado. He shielded her
from many beatings, and every day imparted religious instructions. No
one, but his wife, could move him so easily as Frado; so that in
addition to her daily toil she was often deprived of her rest at
Yet she insisted on being called; she wished to show her love for
one who had been such a friend to her. Her anxiety and grief
increased as the probabilities of his recovery became doubtful.
Mrs. Bellmont found her weeping on his ac- count, shut her up, and
whipped her with the raw-hide, adding an injunction never to be seen
snivelling again because she had a little work to do. She was very
careful never to shed tears on his account, in her presence,
CHAPTER VIII. VISITOR AND DEPARTURE.
—"Other cares engross me, and my tired soul with emulative haste,
Looks to its God."
THE brother associated with James in business, in Baltimore, was
sent for to confer with one who might never be able to see him there.
James began to speak of life as closing; of heaven, as of a place
in immediate prospect; of aspirations, which waited for fruition in
glory. His brother, Lewis by name, was an especial fa- vorite of
sister Mary; more like her, in disposi- tion and preferences than
James or Jack.
He arrived as soon as possible after the re- quest, and saw with
regret the sure indications of fatality in his sick brother, and
listened to his admonitions—admonitions to a Christian life— with
tears, and uttered some promises of atten- tion to the subject so dear
to the heart of James.
How gladly he would have extended healing aid. But, alas! it was
not in his power; so, after listening to his wishes and arrangements
for his family and business, he decided to return home.
Anxious for company home, he persuaded his father and mother to
permit Mary to attend him. She was not at all needed in the sick room;
she did not choose to be useful in the kitchen, and then she was
fully determined to go.
So all the trunks were assembled and cram- med with the best
selections from the wardrobe of herself and mother, where the
last-mentioned articles could be appropriated.
"Nig was never so helpful before," Mary re- marked, and wondered
what had induced such a change in place of former sullenness.
Nig was looking further than the present, and congratulating
herself upon some days of peace, for Mary never lost opportunity of
informing her mother of Nig's delinquencies, were she otherwise
Was it strange if she were officious, with such relief in
The parting from the sick brother was tearful and sad. James
prayed in their presence for their renewal in holiness; and urged
their im- mediate attention to eternal realities, and gained a
promise that Susan and Charlie should share their kindest regards.
No sooner were they on their way, than Nig slyly crept round to
Aunt Abby's room, and tip- toeing and twisting herself into all
shapes, she exclaimed,—
"She's gone, Aunt Abby, she's gone, fairly gone;" and jumped up
and down, till Aunt Abby feared she would attract the notice of her
mistress by such demonstrations.
"Well, she's gone, gone, Aunt Abby. I hope she'll never come back
"No! no! Frado, that's wrong! you would be wishing her dead; that
"Well, I'll bet she'll never come back again; somehow, I feel as
though she wouldn't."
"She is James's sister," remonstrated Aunt Abby.
"So is our cross sheep just as much, that I ducked in the river;
I'd like to try my hand at curing HER too."
"But you forget what our good minister told us last week, about
doing good to those that hate us."
"Didn't I do good, Aunt Abby, when I washed and ironed and packed
her old duds to get rid of her, and helped her pack her trunks, and
run here and there for her?"
"Well, well, Frado; you must go finish your work, or your mistress
will be after you, and remind you severely of Miss Mary, and some
Nig went as she was told, and her clear voice was heard as she
went, singing in joyous notes the relief she felt at the removal of
one of her tormentors.
Day by day the quiet of the sick man's room was increased. He was
helpless and nervous; and often wished change of position, thereby
hoping to gain momentary relief. The calls upon Frado were
consequently more frequent, her nights less tranquil. Her health was
im- paired by lifting the sick man, and by drudgery in the kitchen.
Her ill health she endeavored to conceal from James, fearing he might
have less repose if there should be a change of at- tendants; and
Mrs. Bellmont, she well knew, would have no sympathy for her. She was
at last so much reduced as to be unable to stand erect for any great
length of time. She would SIT at the table to wash her dishes; if she
heard the well-known step of her mistress, she would rise till she
returned to her room, and then sink down for further rest. Of course
she was longer than usual in completing the services assigned her.
This was a subject of complaint to Mrs. Bellmont; and Frado
endeavored to throw off all appearance of sickness in her presence.
But it was increasing upon her, and she could no longer hide her
indisposition. Her mistress entered one day, and finding her seated,
com- manded her to go to work. "I am sick," replied Frado, rising
and walking slowly to her unfin- ished task, "and cannot stand long, I
feel so bad."
Angry that she should venture a reply to her command, she suddenly
inflicted a blow which lay the tottering girl prostrate on the floor.
Ex- cited by so much indulgence of a dangerous pas- sion, she seemed
left to unrestrained malice; and snatching a towel, stuffed the mouth
of the suf- ferer, and beat her cruelly.
Frado hoped she would end her misery by whipping her to death.
She bore it with the hope of a martyr, that her misery would soon
close. Though her mouth was muffled, and the sounds much stifled,
there was a sensible com- motion, which James' quick ear detected.
"Call Frado to come here," he said faintly, "I have not seen her
Susan retired with the request to the kitchen, where it was
evident some brutal scene had just been enacted.
Mrs. Bellmont replied that she had "some work to do just now; when
that was done, she might come."
Susan's appearance confirmed her husband's fears, and he requested
his father, who sat by the bedside, to go for her. This was a messen-
ger, as James well knew, who could not be de- nied; and the girl
entered the room, sobbing and faint with anguish.
James called her to him, and inquired the cause of her sorrow.
She was afraid to expose the cruel author of her misery, lest she
should provoke new attacks. But after much entreaty, she told him
all, much which had escaped his watchful ear. Poor James shut his
eyes in silence, as if pained to forgetfulness by the re- cital.
Then turning to Susan, he asked her to take Charlie, and walk out;
"she needed the fresh air," he said. "And say to mother I wish Frado
to sit by me till you return. I think you are fading, from staying so
long in this sick room." Mr. B. also left, and Frado was thus left
alone with her friend. Aunt Abby came in to make her daily visit,
and seeing the sick coun- tenance of the attendant, took her home with
her to administer some cordial. She soon re- turned, however, and
James kept her with him the rest of the day; and a comfortable night's
repose following, she was enabled to continue, as usual, her labors.
James insisted on her attend- ing religious meetings in the vicinity
with Aunt Abby.
Frado, under the instructions of Aunt Abby and the minister,
became a believer in a future existence—one of happiness or misery.
Her doubt was, IS there a heaven for the black? She knew there was
one for James, and Aunt Abby, and all good white people; but was there
any for blacks? She had listened attentively to all the minister
said, and all Aunt Abby had told her; but then it was all for white
As James approached that blessed world, she felt a strong desire
to follow, and be with one who was such a dear, kind friend to her.
While she was exercised with these desires and aspirations, she
attended an evening meet- ing with Aunt Abby, and the good man urged
all, young or old, to accept the offers of mercy, to receive a
compassionate Jesus as their Sa- viour. "Come to Christ," he urged,
"all, young or old, white or black, bond or free, come all to Christ
for pardon; repent, believe."
This was the message she longed to hear; it seemed to be spoken
for her. But he had told them to repent; "what was that?" she asked.
She knew she was unfit for any heaven, made for whites or blacks.
She would gladly repent, or do anything which would admit her to
share the abode of James.
Her anxiety increased; her countenance bore marks of solicitude
unseen before; and though she said nothing of her inward contest, they
all observed a change.
James and Aunt Abby hoped it was the springing of good seed sown
by the Spirit of God. Her tearful attention at the last meeting
encouraged his aunt to hope that her mind was awakened, her
conscience aroused. Aunt Abby noticed that she was particularly
engaged in reading the Bible; and this strengthened her conviction
that a heavenly Messenger was striv- ing with her. The neighbors
dropped in to in- quire after the sick, and also if Frado was
"SERIOUS?" They noticed she seemed very thoughtful and tearful at
the meetings. Mrs. Reed was very inquisitive; but Mrs. Bellmont saw
no ap- pearance of change for the better. She did not feel
responsible for her spiritual culture, and hardly believed she had a
Nig was in truth suffering much; her feelings were very intense on
any subject, when once aroused. She read her Bible carefully, and as
often as an opportunity presented, which was when entirely secluded
in her own apartment, or by Aunt Abby's side, who kindly directed her
to Christ, and instructed her in the way of salva- tion.
Mrs. Bellmont found her one day quietly reading her Bible. Amazed
and half crediting the reports of officious neighbors, she felt it was
time to interfere. Here she was, reading and shedding tears over the
Bible. She ordered her to put up the book, and go to work, and not be
snivelling about the house, or stop to read again.
But there was one little spot seldom penetra- ted by her mistress'
watchful eye: this was her room, uninviting and comfortless; but to
her- self a safe retreat. Here she would listen to the pleadings of
a Saviour, and try to penetrate the veil of doubt and sin which
clouded her soul, and long to cast off the fetters of sin, and rise
to the communion of saints.
Mrs. Bellmont, as we before said, did not trou- ble herself about
the future destiny of her ser- vant. If she did what she desired for
HER bene- fit, it was all the responsibility she acknowledged. But
she seemed to have great aversion to the notice Nig would attract
should she become pious. How could she meet this case? She re-
solved to make her complaint to John. Strange, when she was always
foiled in this direction, she should resort to him. It was time
something was done; she had begun to read the Bible openly.
The night of this discovery, as they were retiring, Mrs. Bellmont
introduced the conver- sation, by saying:
"I want your attention to what I am going to say. I have let Nig
go out to evening meet- ings a few times, and, if you will believe it,
I found her reading the Bible to-day, just as though she expected to
turn pious nigger, and preach to white folks. So now you see what
good comes of sending her to school. If she should get converted she
would have to go to meeting: at least, as long as James lives. I wish
he had not such queer notions about her. It seems to trouble him to
know he must die and leave her. He says if he should get well he
would take her home with him, or educate her here. Oh, how awful!
What can the child mean? So careful, too, of her! He says we shall
ruin her health making her work so hard, and sleep in such a place.
O, John! do you think he is in his right mind?"
"Yes, yes; she is slender."
"Yes, YES!" she repeated sarcastically, "you know these niggers
are just like black snakes; you CAN'T kill them. If she wasn't tough
she would have been killed long ago. There was never one of my girls
could do half the work."
"Did they ever try?" interposed her husband. "I think she can do
more than all of them together."
"What a man!" said she, peevishly. "But I want to know what is
going to be done with her about getting pious?"
"Let her do just as she has a mind to. If it is a comfort to her,
let her enjoy the privilege of being good. I see no objection."
"I should think YOU were crazy, sure. Don't you know that every
night she will want to go toting off to meeting? and Sundays, too? and
you know we have a great deal of company Sundays, and she can't be
"I thought you Christians held to going to church," remarked Mr.
"Yes, but who ever thought of having a nig- ger go, except to
drive others there? Why, according to you and James, we should very
soon have her in the parlor, as smart as our own girls. It's of no
use talking to you or James. If you should go on as you would like,
it would not be six months before she would be leaving me; and that
won't do. Just think how much profit she was to us last summer. We
had no work hired out; she did the work of two girls—"
"And got the whippings for two with it!" remarked Mr. Bellmont.
"I'll beat the money out of her, if I can't get her worth any
other way," retorted Mrs. B. sharply. While this scene was passing,
Frado was trying to utter the prayer of the publican, "God be
merciful to me a sinner."
CHAPTER IX. DEATH.
We have now
But a small portion of what men call time,
To hold communion.
SPRING opened, and James, instead of rallying, as was hoped, grew
worse daily. Aunt Abby and Frado were the constant allies of Susan.
Mrs. Bellmont dared not lift him. She was not "strong enough," she
It was very offensive to Mrs. B. to have Nab about James so much.
She had thrown out many a hint to detain her from so often visiting
the sick-room; but Aunt Abby was too well accustomed to her ways to
mind them. After various unsuccessful efforts, she resorted to the
following expedient. As she heard her cross the entry below, to
ascend the stairs, she slipped out and held the latch of the door
which led into the upper entry.
"James does not want to see you, or any one else," she said.
Aunt Abby hesitated, and returned slowly to her own room;
wondering if it were really James' wish not to see her. She did not
ven- ture again that day, but still felt disturbed and anxious about
him. She inquired of Frado, and learned that he was no worse. She
asked her if James did not wish her to come and see him; what could
Quite late next morning, Susan came to see what had become of her
"Your mother said James did not wish to see me, and I was afraid I
"Why, aunt, that is a mistake, I KNOW. What could mother mean?"
The next time she went to the sitting-room she asked her mother,—
"Why does not Aunt Abby visit James as she has done? Where is
"At home. I hope that she will stay there," was the answer.
"I should think she would come in and see James," continued Susan.
"I told her he did not want to see her, and to stay out. You need
make no stir about it; remem- ber:" she added, with one of her fiery
Susan kept silence. It was a day or two before James spoke of her
absence. The family were at dinner, and Frado was watching beside
him. He inquired the cause of her absence, and SHE told him all.
After the family returned he sent his wife for her. When she
entered, he took her hand, and said, "Come to me often, Aunt. Come
any time,—I am always glad to see you. I have but a little longer to
be with you,—come often, Aunt. Now please help lift me up, and see
if I can rest a little."
Frado was called in, and Susan and Mrs. B. all attempted; Mrs. B.
was too weak; she did not feel able to lift so much. So the three
suc- ceeded in relieving the sufferer.
Frado returned to her work. Mrs. B. fol- lowed. Seizing Frado,
she said she would "cure her of tale-bearing," and, placing the wedge
of wood between her teeth, she beat her cruelly with the raw-hide.
Aunt Abby heard the blows, and came to see if she could hinder them.
Surprised at her sudden appearance, Mrs. B. suddenly stopped, but
forbade her removing the wood till she gave her permission, and com-
manded Nab to go home.
She was thus tortured when Mr. Bellmont came in, and, making
inquiries which she did not, because she could not, answer, approached
her; and seeing her situation, quickly removed the instrument of
torture, and sought his wife. Their conversation we will omit; suffice
it to say, a storm raged which required many days to exhaust its
Frado was becoming seriously ill. She had no relish for food, and
was constantly over- worked, and then she had such solicitude about
the future. She wished to pray for pardon. She did try to pray. Her
mistress had told her it would "do no good for her to attempt prayer;
prayer was for whites, not for blacks. If she minded her mistress,
and did what she com- manded, it was all that was required of her."
This did not satisfy her, or appease her long- ings. She knew her
instructions did not har- monize with those of the man of God or Aunt
Abby's. She resolved to persevere. She said nothing on the subject,
unless asked. It was evident to all her mind was deeply exercised.
James longed to speak with her alone on the subject. An opportunity
presented soon, while the family were at tea. It was usual to sum-
mon Aunt Abby to keep company with her, as his death was expected
As she took her accustomed seat, he asked, "Are you afraid to stay
with me alone, Frado?"
"No," she replied, and stepped to the window to conceal her
"Come here, and sit by me; I wish to talk with you."
She approached him, and, taking her hand, he remarked:
"How poor you are, Frado! I want to tell you that I fear I shall
never be able to talk with you again. It is the last time, perhaps, I
shall EVER talk with you. You are old enough to remember my dying
words and profit by them. I have been sick a long time; I shall die
pretty soon. My Heavenly Father is calling me home. Had it been his
will to let me live I should take you to live with me; but, as it is,
I shall go and leave you. But, Frado, if you will be a good girl,
and love and serve God, it will be but a short time before we are in a
HEAVENLY home to- gether. There will never be any sickness or sorrow
Frado, overcome with grief, sobbed, and buried her face in his
pillow. She expected he would die; but to hear him speak of his
departure him- self was unexpected.
"Bid me good bye, Frado."
She kissed him, and sank on her knees by his bedside; his hand
rested on her head; his eyes were closed; his lips moved in prayer
for this disconsolate child.
His wife entered, and interpreting the scene, gave him some
restoratives, and withdrew for a short time.
It was a great effort for Frado to cease sobbing; but she dared
not be seen below in tears; so she choked her grief, and descended to
her usual toil. Susan perceived a change in her husband. She felt
that death was near.
He tenderly looked on her, and said, "Susan, my wife, our
farewells are all spoken. I feel prepared to go. I shall meet you in
heaven. Death is indeed creeping fast upon me. Let me see them all
once more. Teach Charlie the way to heaven; lead him up as you come."
The family all assembled. He could not talk as he wished to them.
He seemed to sink into unconsciousness. They watched him for hours.
He had labored hard for breath some time, when he seemed to awake
sud- denly, and exclaimed, "Hark! do you hear it?"
"Hear what, my son?" asked the father.
"Their call. Look, look, at the shining ones! Oh, let me go and
be at rest!"
As if waiting for this petition, the Angel of Death severed the
golden thread, and he was in heaven. At midnight the messenger came.
They called Frado to see his last struggle. Sinking on her knees
at the foot of his bed, she buried her face in the clothes, and wept
like one inconsolable. They led her from the room. She seemed to be
too much absorbed to know it was necessary for her to leave. Next day
she would steal into the chamber as often as she could, to weep over
his remains, and ponder his last words to her. She moved about the
house like an automaton. Every duty performed—but an abstraction
from all, which shewed her thoughts were busied else- where. Susan
wished her to attend his burial as one of the family. Lewis and Mary
and Jack it was not thought best to send for, as the season would not
allow them time for the journey. Susan provided her with a dress for
the occasion, which was her first intimation that she would be
allowed to mingle her grief with others.
The day of the burial she was attired in her mourning dress; but
Susan, in her grief, had forgotten a bonnet.
She hastily ransacked the closets, and found one of Mary's,
trimmed with bright pink ribbon.
It was too late to change the ribbon, and she was unwilling to
leave Frado at home; she knew it would be the wish of James she
should go with her. So tying it on, she said, "Never mind, Frado,
you shall see where our dear James is buried." As she passed out, she
heard the whispers of the by-standers, "Look there! see there! how
that looks,—a black dress and a pink ribbon!"
Another time, such remarks would have wounded Frado. She had now
a sorrow with which such were small in comparison.
As she saw his body lowered in the grave she wished to share it;
but she was not fit to die. She could not go where he was if she
did. She did not love God; she did not serve him or know how to.
She retired at night to mourn over her unfitness for heaven, and
gaze out upon the stars, which, she felt, studded the entrance of
heaven, above which James reposed in the bosom of Jesus, to which her
desires were has- tening. She wished she could see God, and ask him
for eternal life. Aunt Abby had taught her that He was ever looking
upon her. Oh, if she could see him, or hear him speak words of
forgiveness. Her anxiety increased; her health seemed impaired, and
she felt constrained to go to Aunt Abby and tell her all about her
She received her like a returning wanderer; seriously urged her to
accept of Christ; ex- plained the way; read to her from the Bible,
and remarked upon such passages as applied to her state. She warned
her against stifling that voice which was calling her to heaven;
echoed the farewell words of James, and told her to come to her with
her difficulties, and not to delay a duty so important as attention
to the truths of religion, and her soul's interests.
Mrs. Bellmont would occasionally give in- struction, though far
different. She would tell her she could not go where James was; she
need not try. If she should get to heaven at all, she would never be
as high up as he.
HE was the attraction. Should she "want to go there if she could
not see him?"
Mrs. B. seldom mentioned her bereavement, unless in such allusion
to Frado. She donned her weeds from custom; kept close her crape
veil for so many Sabbaths, and abated nothing of her characteristic
The clergyman called to minister consolation to the afflicted
widow and mother. Aunt Abby seeing him approach the dwelling, knew at
once the object of his visit, and followed him to the parlor, unasked
by Mrs. B! What a daring affront! The good man dispensed the conso-
lations, of which he was steward, to the appar- ently grief-smitten
mother, who talked like one schooled in a heavenly atmosphere. Such
resig- nation expressed, as might have graced the trial of the
holiest. Susan, like a mute sufferer, bared her soul to his sympathy
and godly counsel, but only replied to his questions in short
syllables. When he offered prayer, Frado stole to the door that she
might hear of the heavenly bliss of one who was her friend on earth.
The prayer caused profuse weeping, as any tender reminder of the
heaven-born was sure to. When the good man's voice ceased, she
returned to her toil, carefully removing all trace of sorrow. Her
mistress soon followed, irritated by Nab's impudence in presenting
her- self unasked in the parlor, and upbraided her with indolence,
and bade her apply herself more diligently. Stung by unmerited
rebuke, weak from sorrow and anxiety, the tears rolled down her dark
face, soon followed by sobs, and then losing all control of herself,
she wept aloud. This was an act of disobedience. Her mistress
grasping her raw-hide, caused a longer flow of tears, and wounded a
spirit that was craving healing mercies.
CHAPTER X. PERPLEXITIES.—ANOTHER
Neath the billows of the ocean,
Hidden treasures wait the hand,
That again to light shall raise them
With the diver's magic wand.
G. W. COOK.
THE family, gathered by James' decease, re- turned to their homes.
Susan and Charles returned to Baltimore. Letters were received from
the absent, expressing their sympathy and grief. The father bowed
like a "bruised reed," under the loss of his beloved son. He felt
desirous to die the death of the righteous; also, conscious that he
was unprepared, he resolved to start on the narrow way, and some time
solicit entrance through the gate which leads to the celestial city.
He acknowledged his too ready acquiescence with Mrs. B., in permit-
ting Frado to be deprived of her only religious privileges for weeks
together. He accordingly asked his sister to take her to meeting once
more, which she was ready at once to do.
The first opportunity they once more at- tended meeting together.
The minister con- versed faithfully with every person present. He
was surprised to find the little colored girl so solicitous, and
kindly directed her to the flowing fountain where she might wash and
be clean. He inquired of the origin of her anxiety, of her progress
up to this time, and endeavored to make Christ, instead of James, the
attraction of Heaven. He invited her to come to his house, to speak
freely her mind to him, to pray much, to read her Bible often.
The neighbors, who were at meeting,—among them Mrs.
Reed,—discussed the opinions Mrs. Bellmont would express on the
subject. Mrs. Reed called and informed Mrs. B. that her col- ored
girl "related her experience the other night at the meeting."
"What experience?" asked she, quickly, as if she expected to hear
the number of times she had whipped Frado, and the number of lashes
set forth in plain Arabic numbers.
"Why, you know she is serious, don't you? She told the minister
Mrs. B. made no reply, but changed the subject adroitly. Next
morning she told Frado she "should not go out of the house for one
while, except on errands; and if she did not stop trying to be
religious, she would whip her to death."
Frado pondered; her mistress was a professor of religion; was SHE
going to heaven? then she did not wish to go. If she should be near
James, even, she could not be happy with those fiery eyes watching
her ascending path. She resolved to give over all thought of the
future world, and strove daily to put her anxiety far from her.
Mr. Bellmont found himself unable to do what James or Jack could
accomplish for her. He talked with her seriously, told her he had
seen her many times punished undeservedly; he did not wish to have
her saucy or disrespectful, but when she was SURE she did not deserve
a whip- ping, to avoid it if she could. "You are look- ing sick," he
added, "you cannot endure beating as you once could."
It was not long before an opportunity offered of profiting by his
advice. She was sent for wood, and not returning as soon as Mrs. B.
cal- culated, she followed her, and, snatching from the pile a stick,
raised it over her.
"Stop!" shouted Frado, "strike me, and I'll never work a mite more
for you;" and throw- ing down what she had gathered, stood like one
who feels the stirring of free and independent thoughts.
By this unexpected demonstration, her mis- tress, in amazement,
dropped her weapon, desist- ing from her purpose of chastisement.
Frado walked towards the house, her mistress following with the wood
she herself was sent after. She did not know, before, that she had a
power to ward off assaults. Her triumph in seeing her enter the door
with HER burden, repaid her for much of her former suffering.
It was characteristic of Mrs. B. never to rise in her majesty,
unless she was sure she should be victorious.
This affair never met with an "after clap," like many others.
Thus passed a year. The usual amount of scolding, but fewer
whippings. Mrs. B. longed once more for Mary's return, who had been
absent over a year; and she wrote imperatively for her to come
quickly to her. A letter came in reply, announcing that she would
comply as soon as she was sufficiently recovered from an illness
which detained her.
No serious apprehensions were cherished by either parent, who
constantly looked for notice of her arrival, by mail. Another letter
brought tidings that Mary was seriously ill; her mother's presence
She started without delay. Before she reached her destination, a
letter came to the parents announcing her death.
No sooner was the astounding news received, than Frado rushed into
Aunt Abby's, exclaim- ing:—
"She's dead, Aunt Abby!"
"Who?" she asked, terrified by the unpre- faced announcement.
"Mary; they've just had a letter."
As Mrs. B. was away, the brother and sister could freely
sympathize, and she sought him in this fresh sorrow, to communicate
such solace as she could, and to learn particulars of Mary's untimely
death, and assist him in his journey thither.
It seemed a thanksgiving to Frado. Every hour or two she would
pop in into Aunt Abby's room with some strange query:
"She got into the RIVER again, Aunt Abby, didn't she; the Jordan
is a big one to tumble into, any how. S'posen she goes to hell,
she'll be as black as I am. Wouldn't mistress be mad to see her a
nigger!" and others of a similar stamp, not at all acceptable to the
pious, sympathetic dame; but she could not evade them.
The family returned from their sorrowful journey, leaving the dead
behind. Nig looked for a change in her tyrant; what could subdue
her, if the loss of her idol could not?
Never was Mrs. B. known to shed tears so pro- fusely, as when she
reiterated to one and another the sad particulars of her darling's
sickness and death. There was, indeed, a season of quiet grief; it
was the lull of the fiery elements. A few weeks revived the former
tempests, and so at variance did they seem with chastisement
sanctified, that Frado felt them to be unbear- able. She determined
to flee. But where? Who would take her? Mrs. B. had always repre-
sented her ugly. Perhaps every one thought her so. Then no one
would take her. She was black, no one would love her. She might have
to return, and then she would be more in her mistress' power than
She remembered her victory at the wood-pile. She decided to remain
to do as well as she could; to assert her rights when they were
trampled on; to return once more to her meeting in the evening, which
had been prohibited. She had learned how to conquer; she would not
abuse the power while Mr. Bellmont was at home.
But had she not better run away? Where? She had never been from
the place far enough to decide what course to take. She resolved to
speak to Aunt Abby. SHE mapped the dangers of her course, her
liability to fail in finding so good friends as John and herself.
Frado's mind was busy for days and nights. She contem- plated
administering poison to her mistress, to rid herself and the house of
so detestable a plague.
But she was restrained by an overruling Prov- idence; and finally
decided to stay contentedly through her period of service, which would
ex- pire when she was eighteen years of age.
In a few months Jane returned home with her family, to relieve her
parents, upon whom years and affliction had left the marks of age.
The years intervening since she had left her home, had, in some
degree, softened the opposition to her unsanctioned marriage with
George. The more Mrs. B. had about her, the more ener- getic seemed
her directing capabilities, and her fault-finding propensities. Her
own, she had full power over; and Jane after vain endeavors, be- came
disgusted, weary, and perplexed, and de- cided that, though her mother
might suffer, she could not endure her home. They followed Jack to
the West. Thus vanished all hopes of sym- pathy or relief from this
source to Frado. There seemed no one capable of enduring the oppres-
sions of the house but her. She turned to the darkness of the future
with the determination previously formed, to remain until she should
be eighteen. Jane begged her to follow her so soon as she should be
released; but so wearied out was she by her mistress, she felt
disposed to flee from any and every one having her simili- tude of
name or feature.
CHAPTER XI. MARRIAGE AGAIN.
Crucified the hopes that cheered me,
All that to the earth endeared me;
Love of wealth and fame and power,
Love,—all have been crucified.
DARKNESS before day. Jane left, but Jack was now to come again.
After Mary's death he vis- ited home, leaving a wife behind. An
orphan whose home was with a relative, gentle, loving, the true mate
of kind, generous Jack. His mother was a stranger to her, of course,
and had perfect right to interrogate:
"Is she good looking, Jack?" asked his mother.
"Looks well to me," was the laconic reply.
"Was her FATHER rich?"
"Not worth a copper, as I know of; I never asked him," answered
"Hadn't she any property? What did you marry her for," asked his
"Oh, she's WORTH A MILLION dollars, mother, though not a cent of
it is in money."
"Jack! what do you want to bring such a poor being into the
family, for? You'd better stay here, at home, and let your wife go.
Why couldn't you try to do better, and not disgrace your parents?"
"Don't judge, till you see her," was Jack's reply, and immediately
changed the subject. It was no recommendation to his mother, and she
did not feel prepared to welcome her cor- dially now he was to come
with his wife. He was indignant at his mother's advice to desert
her. It rankled bitterly in his soul, the bare suggestion. He had
more to bring. He now came with a child also. He decided to leave
the West, but not his family.
Upon their arrival, Mrs. B. extended a cold welcome to her new
daughter, eyeing her dress with closest scrutiny. Poverty was to her
a disgrace, and she could not associate with any thus dishonored.
This coldness was felt by Jack's worthy wife, who only strove the
harder to recommend herself by her obliging, winning ways.
Mrs. B. could never let Jack be with her alone without complaining
of this or that de- ficiency in his wife.
He cared not so long as the complaints were piercing his own ears.
He would not have Jenny disquieted. He passed his time in seek- ing
A letter came from his brother Lewis, then at the South,
soliciting his services. Leaving his wife, he repaired thither.
Mrs. B. felt that great restraint was removed, that Jenny was more
in her own power. She wished to make her feel her inferiority; to
relieve Jack of his burden if he would not do it himself. She
watched her incessantly, to catch at some act of Jenny's which might
be construed into conjugal unfaithfulness.
Near by were a family of cousins, one a young man of Jack's age,
who, from love to his cousin, proffered all needful courtesy to his
stranger relative. Soon news reached Jack that Jenny was deserting
her covenant vows, and had formed an illegal intimacy with his cousin.
Meantime Jenny was told by her mother-in- law that Jack did not marry
her untrammelled. He had another love whom he would be glad, even
now, if he could, to marry. It was very doubtful if he ever came for
Jenny would feel pained by her unwelcome gossip, and, glancing at
her child, she decided, however true it might be, she had a pledge
which would enchain him yet. Ere long, the mother's inveterate hate
crept out into some neighbor's enclosure, and, caught up hastily,
they passed the secret round till it became none, and Lewis was sent
for, the brother by whom Jack was employed. The neighbors saw her
fade in health and spirits; they found letters never reached their
destination when sent by either. Lewis arrived with the joyful news
that he had come to take Jenny home with him.
What a relief to her to be freed from the gnawing taunts of her
Jenny retired to prepare for the journey, and Mrs. B. and Henry
had a long interview. Next morning he informed Jenny that new clothes
would be necessary, in order to make her pre- sentable to Baltimore
society, and he should return without her, and she must stay till she
was suitably attired.
Disheartened, she rushed to her room, and, after relief from
weeping, wrote to Jack to come; to have pity on her, and take her to
him. No answer came. Mrs. Smith, a neighbor, watch- ful and
friendly, suggested that she write away from home, and employ some one
to carry it to the office who would elude Mrs. B., who, they very
well knew, had intercepted Jenny's letter, and influenced Lewis to
leave her behind. She accepted the offer, and Frado succeeded in man-
aging the affair so that Jack soon came to the rescue, angry,
wounded, and forever after alien- ated from his early home and his
mother. Many times would Frado steal up into Jenny's room, when she
knew she was tortured by her mis- tress' malignity, and tell some of
her own encounters with her, and tell her she might "be sure it
wouldn't kill her, for she should have died long before at the same
Susan and her child succeeded Jenny as vis- itors. Frado had
merged into womanhood, and, retaining what she had learned, in spite
of the few privileges enjoyed formerly, was striving to enrich her
mind. Her school-books were her constant companions, and every
leisure moment was applied to them. Susan was delighted to witness
her progress, and some little book from her was a reward sufficient
for any task im- posed, however difficult. She had her book always
fastened open near her, where she could glance from toil to soul
refreshment. The approaching spring would close the term of years
which Mrs. B. claimed as the period of her servitude. Often as she
passed the way- marks of former years did she pause to ponder on her
situation, and wonder if she COULD succeed in providing for her own
wants. Her health was delicate, yet she resolved to try.
Soon she counted the time by days which should release her. Mrs.
B. felt that she could not well spare one who could so well adapt her-
self to all departments—man, boy, housekeeper, domestic, etc. She
begged Mrs. Smith to talk with her, to show her how ungrateful it
would appear to leave a home of such comfort—how wicked it was to be
ungrateful! But Frado replied that she had had enough of such com-
forts; she wanted some new ones; and as it was so wicked to be
ungrateful, she would go from temptation; Aunt Abby said "we mustn't
put ourselves in the way of temptation."
Poor little Fido! She shed more tears over him than over all
The morning for departure dawned. Frado engaged to work for a
family a mile distant. Mrs. Bellmont dismissed her with the assurance
that she would soon wish herself back again, and a present of a
silver half dollar.
Her wardrobe consisted of one decent dress, without any
superfluous accompaniments. A Bible from Susan she felt was her
Now was she alone in the world. The past year had been one of
suffering resulting from a fall, which had left her lame.
The first summer passed pleasantly, and the wages earned were
expended in garments neces- sary for health and cleanliness. Though
feeble, she was well satisfied with her progress. Shut up in her
room, after her toil was finished, she studied what poor samples of
apparel she had, and, for the first time, prepared her own gar-
Mrs. Moore, who employed her, was a kind friend to her, and
attempted to heal her wounded spirit by sympathy and advice, bury-
ing the past in the prospects of the future. But her failing health
was a cloud no kindly human hand could dissipate. A little light
work was all she could accomplish. A clergy- man, whose family was
small, sought her, and she was removed there. Her engagement with
Mrs. Moore finished in the fall. Frado was anxious to keep up her
reputation for efficiency, and often pressed far beyond prudence. In
the winter she entirely gave up work, and confessed herself
thoroughly sick. Mrs. Hale, soon over- come by additional cares, was
taken sick also, and now it became necessary to adopt some measures
for Frado's comfort, as well as to relieve Mrs. Hale. Such dark
forebodings as visited her as she lay, solitary and sad, no moans or
sighs could relieve.
The family physician pronounced her case one of doubtful issue.
Frado hoped it was final. She could not feel relentings that her
former home was abandoned, and yet, should she be in need of succor
could she obtain it from one who would now so grudgingly bestow it?
The family were applied to, and it was decided to take her there.
She was removed to a room built out from the main building, used
formerly as a workshop, where cold and rain found unob- structed
access, and here she fought with bitter reminiscences and future
prospects till she be- came reckless of her faith and hopes and
person, and half wished to end what nature seemed so tardily to take.
Aunt Abby made her frequent visits, and at last had her removed to
her own apartment, where she might supply her wants, and minister to
her once more in heavenly things.
Then came the family consultation.
"What is to be done with her," asked Mrs. B., "after she is moved
there with Nab?"
"Send for the Dr., your brother," Mr. B. re- plied.
"To-night! and for her! Wait till morning," she continued.
"She has waited too long now; I think some- thing should be done
"I doubt if she is much sick," sharply inter- rupted Mrs. B.
"Well, we'll see what our brother thinks."
His coming was longed for by Frado, who had known him well during
her long sojourn in the family; and his praise of her nice butter and
cheese, from which his table was supplied, she knew he felt as well
"You're sick, very sick," he said, quickly, after a moment's
pause. "Take good care of her, Abby, or she'll never get well. All
"Yes, it was at Mrs. Moore's," said Mrs. B., "all this was done.
She did but little the latter part of the time she was here."
"It was commenced longer ago than last sum- mer. Take good care
of her; she may never get well," remarked the Dr.
"We sha'n't pay you for doctoring her; you may look to the town
for that, sir," said Mrs. B., and abruptly left the room.
"Oh dear! oh dear!" exclaimed Frado, and buried her face in the
A few kind words of consolation, and she was once more alone in
the darkness which envel- oped her previous days. Yet she felt sure
they owed her a shelter and attention, when disabled, and she
resolved to feel patient, and remain till she could help herself.
Mrs. B. would not at- tend her, nor permit her domestic to stay with
her at all. Aunt Abby was her sole comforter. Aunt Abby's nursing
had the desired effect, and she slowly improved. As soon as she was
able to be moved, the kind Mrs. Moore took her to her home again, and
completed what Aunt Abby had so well commenced. Not that she was
well, or ever would be; but she had recovered so far as rendered it
hopeful she might provide for her own wants. The clergyman at whose
house she was taken sick, was now seeking some one to watch his sick
children, and as soon as he heard of her recovery, again asked for her
What seemed so light and easy to others, was too much for Frado;
and it became necessary to ask once more where the sick should find an
All felt that the place where her declining health began, should
be the place of relief; so they applied once more for a shelter.
"No," exclaimed the indignant Mrs. B., "she shall never come under
this roof again; never! never!" she repeated, as if each repeti- tion
were a bolt to prevent admission.
One only resource; the public must pay the expense. So she was
removed to the home of two maidens, (old,) who had principle enough to
be willing to earn the money a charitable public disburses.
Three years of weary sickness wasted her, without extinguishing a
life apparently so fee- ble. Two years had these maidens watched and
cared for her, and they began to weary, and finally to request the
authorities to remove her.
Mrs. Hoggs was a lover of gold and silver, and she asked the favor
of filling her coffers by caring for the sick. The removal caused
severe sick- ness.
By being bolstered in the bed, after a time she could use her
hands, and often would ask for sewing to beguile the tedium. She had
become very expert with her needle the first year of her release from
Mrs. B., and she had forgotten none of her skill. Mrs. H. praised
her, and as she im- proved in health, was anxious to employ her. She
told her she could in this way replace her clothes, and as her board
would be paid for, she would thus gain something.
Many times her hands wrought when her body was in pain; but the
hope that she might yet help herself, impelled her on.
Thus she reckoned her store of means by a few dollars, and was
hoping soon to come in pos- session, when she was startled by the
announce- ment that Mrs. Hoggs had reported her to the physician and
town officers as an impostor. That she was, in truth, able to get up
and go to work.
This brought on a severe sickness of two weeks, when Mrs. Moore
again sought her, and took her to her home. She had formerly had
wealth at her command, but misfortune had de- prived her of it, and
unlocked her heart to sym- pathies and favors she had never known
while it lasted. Her husband, defrauded of his last means by a
branch of the Bellmont family, had supported them by manual labor,
gone to the West, and left his wife and four young children. But she
felt humanity required her to give a shelter to one she knew to be
worthy of a hospit- able reception. Mrs. Moore's physician was
called, and pronounced her a very sick girl, and encouraged Mrs. M.
to keep her and care for her, and he would see that the authorities
were in- formed of Frado's helplessness, and pledged as- sistance.
Here she remained till sufficiently restored to sew again. Then
came the old resolution to take care of herself, to cast off the
unpleasant chari- ties of the public.
She learned that in some towns in Massachu- setts, girls make
straw bonnets—that it was easy and profitable. But how should SHE,
black, feeble and poor, find any one to teach her. But God prepares
the way, when human agencies see no path. Here was found a plain,
poor, sim- ple woman, who could see merit beneath a dark skin; and
when the invalid mulatto told her sor- rows, she opened her door and
her heart, and took the stranger in. Expert with the needle, Frado
soon equalled her instructress; and she sought also to teach her the
value of useful books; and while one read aloud to the other of deeds
historic and names renowned, Frado expe- rienced a new impulse. She
felt herself capable of elevation; she felt that this book information
supplied an undefined dissatisfaction she had long felt, but could
not express. Every leisure moment was carefully applied to
self-improve- ment, and a devout and Christian exterior in- vited
confidence from the villagers. Thus she passed months of quiet,
growing in the confi- dence of her neighbors and new found friends.
CHAPTER XII. THE WINDING UP OF THE
Nothing new under the sun.
A FEW years ago, within the compass of my narrative, there
appeared often in some of our New England villages, professed
fugitives from slavery, who recounted their personal experi- ence in
homely phrase, and awakened the indig- nation of non-slaveholders
against brother Pro. Such a one appeared in the new home of Frado;
and as people of color were rare there, was it strange she should
attract her dark brother; that he should inquire her out; succeed in
seeing her; feel a strange sensation in his heart towards her; that
he should toy with her shining curls, feel proud to provoke her to
smile and expose the ivory concealed by thin, ruby lips; that her
sparkling eyes should fascinate; that he should propose; that they
should marry? A short ac- quaintance was indeed an objection, but she
saw him often, and thought she knew him. He never spoke of his
enslavement to her when alone, but she felt that, like her own
oppression, it was painful to disturb oftener than was needful.
He was a fine, straight negro, whose back showed no marks of the
lash, erect as if it never crouched beneath a burden. There was a
silent sympathy which Frado felt attracted her, and she opened her
heart to the presence of love— that arbitrary and inexorable tyrant.
She removed to Singleton, her former resi- dence, and there was
married. Here were Fra- do's first feelings of trust and repose on
human arm. She realized, for the first time, the relief of looking
to another for comfortable support. Occasionally he would leave her to
Those tours were prolonged often to weeks. Of course he had little
spare money. Frado was again feeling her self-dependence, and was at
last compelled to resort alone to that. Samuel was kind to her when
at home, but made no pro- vision for his absence, which was at last
He left her to her fate—embarked at sea, with the disclosure that
he had never seen the South, and that his illiterate harangues were
humbugs for hungry abolitionists. Once more alone! Yet not alone.
A still newer compan- ionship would soon force itself upon her. No
one wanted her with such prospects. Herself was burden enough; who
would have an addi- tional one?
The horrors of her condition nearly prostrated her, and she was
again thrown upon the public for sustenance. Then followed the birth
of her child. The long absent Samuel unexpectedly returned, and
rescued her from charity. Recov- ering from her expected illness, she
once more commenced toil for herself and child, in a room obtained of
a poor woman, but with better for- tune. One so well known would not
be wholly neglected. Kind friends watched her when Sam- uel was from
home, prevented her from suffering, and when the cold weather pinched
the warmly clad, a kind friend took them in, and thus pre- served
them. At last Samuel's business became very engrossing, and after
long desertion, news reached his family that he had become a victim
of yellow fever, in New Orleans.
So much toil as was necessary to sustain Fra- do, was more than
she could endure. As soon as her babe could be nourished without his
mother, she left him in charge of a Mrs. Capon, and procured an
agency, hoping to recruit her health, and gain an easier livelihood
for herself and child. This afforded her better mainten- ance than
she had yet found. She passed into the various towns of the State she
lived in, then into Massachusetts. Strange were some of her
adventures. Watched by kidnappers, maltreated by professed
abolitionists, who didn't want slaves at the South, nor niggers in
their own houses, North. Faugh! to lodge one; to eat with one; to
admit one through the front door; to sit next one; awful!
Traps slyly laid by the vicious to ensnare her, she resolutely
avoided. In one of her tours, Providence favored her with a friend
who, pity- ing her cheerless lot, kindly provided her with a valuable
recipe, from which she might herself manufacture a useful article for
her maintenance. This proved a more agreeable, and an easier way of
And thus, to the present time, may you see her busily employed in
preparing her merchan- dise; then sallying forth to encounter many
frowns, but some kind friends and purchasers. Nothing turns her from
her steadfast purpose of elevating herself. Reposing on God, she has
thus far journeyed securely. Still an invalid, she asks your
sympathy, gentle reader. Refuse not, because some part of her history
is unknown, save by the Omniscient God. Enough has been unrolled to
demand your sympathy and aid.
Do you ask the destiny of those connected with her EARLY history?
A few years only have elapsed since Mr. and Mrs. B. passed into
another world. As age increased, Mrs. B. became more irritable, so
that no one, even her own children, could remain with her; and she was
accompa- nied by her husband to the home of Lewis, where, after an
agony in death unspeakable, she passed away. Only a few months since,
Aunt Abby entered heaven. Jack and his wife rest in heaven,
disturbed by no intruders; and Susan and her child are yet with the
living. Jane has silver locks in place of auburn tresses, but she
has the early love of Henry still, and has never regretted her
exchange of lovers. Frado has passed from their memories, as Joseph
from the butler's, but she will never cease to track them till beyond
"TRUTH is stranger than fiction;" and whoever reads the narrative
of Alfrado, will find the assertion verified.
About eight years ago I became acquainted with the author of this
book, and I feel it a privilege to speak a few words in her behalf.
Through the instrumentality of an itinerant colored lecturer, she was
brought to W——-, Mass. This is an ancient town, where the mothers
and daughters seek, not "wool and flax," but STRAW,—working willingly
with their hands! Here she was introduced to the family of Mrs.
Walker, who kindly consented to receive her as an inmate of her
household, and immediately succeeded in procuring work for her as a
"straw sewer." Being very ingenious, she soon acquired the art of
making hats; but on account of former hard treatment, her constitution
was greatly im- paired, and she was subject to seasons of sickness.
On this account Mrs. W. gave her a room joining her own chamber,
where she could hear her faintest call. Never shall I forget the
expression of her "black, but comely" face, as she came to me one day,
exclaiming, "O, aunt J——-, I have at last found a HOME,—and not
only a home, but a MOTHER. My cup runneth over. What shall I render
to the Lord for all his benefits?"
Months passed on, and she was HAPPY—truly happy. Her health began
to improve under the genial sunshine in which she lived, and she even
looked forward with HOPE— joyful hope to the future. But, alas, "it
is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." One beautiful
morning in the early spring of 1842, as she was taking her usual walk,
she chanced to meet her old friend, the "lecturer," who brought her
to W——-, and with him was a fugitive slave. Young, well-formed and
very handsome, he said he had been a HOUSE- servant, which seemed to
account in some measure for his gentlemanly manners and pleasing
address. The meeting was entirely accidental; but it was a sad
occurrence for poor Alfrado, as her own sequel tells. Suffice it to
say, an acquaintance and attachment was formed, which, in due time,
resulted in marriage. In a few days she left W——-, and ALL her
home comforts, and took up her abode in New Hamp- shire. For a while
everything went on well, and she dreamed not of danger; but in an evil
hour he left his young and trusting wife, and embarked for sea. She
knew nothing of all this, and waited for his return. But she waited
in vain. Days passed, weeks passed, and he came not; then her heart
failed her. She felt herself deserted at a time, when, of all
others, she most needed the care and soothing attentions of a devoted
husband. For a time she tried to sustain HERSELF, but this was
impossible. She had friends, but they were mostly of that class who
are poor in the things of earth, but "rich in faith." The charity on
which she depended failed at last, and there was nothing to save her
from the "County House;" GO SHE MUST. But her feelings on her way
thither, and after her arrival, can be given better in her own
language; and I trust it will be no breach of confidence if I here
insert part of a letter she wrote her mother Walker, concerning the
* * * "The evening before I left for my dreaded jour- ney to the
'house' which was to be my abode, I packed my trunk, carefully placing
in it every little memento of affection received from YOU and my
friends in W——-, among which was the portable inkstand, pens and
paper. My beautiful little Bible was laid aside, as a place nearer my
heart was reserved for that. I need not tell you I slept not a moment
that night. My home, my peaceful, quiet home with you, was before
me. I could see my dear little room, with its pleasant eastern window
opening to the morning; but more than all, I beheld YOU, my mother,
gliding softly in and kneeling by my bed to read, as no one but you
CAN read, 'The Lord is my shepherd,—I shall not want.' But I cannot
go on, for tears blind me. For a description of the morning, and of
the scant breakfast, I must wait until another time.
"We started. The man who came for me was kind as he could
be,—helped me carefully into the wagon, (for I had no strength,) and
drove on. For miles I spoke not a word. Then the silence would be
broken by the driver uttering some sort of word the horse seemed to
understand; for he invariably quickened his pace. And so, just before
nightfall, we halted at the institution, prepared for the HOMELESS.
With cold civility the matron received me, and bade one of the
inmates shew me my room. She did so; and I followed up two flights
of stairs. I crept as I was able; and when she said, 'Go in there,'
I obeyed, asking for my trunk, which was soon placed by me. My room
was furnished some like the 'prophet's chamber,' except there was no
'candlestick;' so when I could creep down I begged for a light, and it
was granted. Then I flung myself on the bed and cried, until I could
cry no longer. I rose up and tried to pray; the Saviour seemed near.
I opened my precious little Bible, and the first verse that caught
my eye was—'I am poor and needy, yet the Lord thinketh upon me.' O,
my mother, could I tell you the comfort this was to me. I sat down,
calm, almost happy, took my pen and wrote on the inspiration of the
"O, holy Father, by thy power, Thus far in life I'm brought; And
now in this dark, trying hour, O God, forsake me not.
"Dids't thou not nourish and sustain My infancy and youth? Have I
not testimonials plain, Of thy unchanging truth?
"Though I've no home to call my own, My heart shall not repine;
The saint may live on earth unknown, And yet in glory shine.
"When my Redeemer dwelt below, He chose a lowly lot; He came unto
his own, but lo! His own received him not.
"Oft was the mountain his abode, The cold, cold earth his bed;
The midnight moon shone softly down On his unsheltered head.
"But MY head WAS SHELTERED, and I tried to feel thankful."
Two or three letters were received after this by her friends in
W——-, and then all was silent. No one of us knew whether she still
lived or had gone to her home on high. But it seems she remained in
this house until after the birth of her babe; then her faithless
husband returned, and took her to some town in New Hampshire, where,
for a time, he supported her and his little son decently well. But
again he left her as before—sud- denly and unexpectedly, and she saw
him no more. Her efforts were again successful in a measure in
securing a meagre main- tenance for a time; but her struggles with
poverty and sickness were severe. At length, a door of hope was
opened. A kind gentleman and lady took her little boy into their own
family, and provided everything necessary for his good; and all this
with- out the hope of remuneration. But let them know, they shall be
"recompensed at the resurrection of the just." God is not unmindful
of this work,—this labor of love. As for the afflicted mother, she
too has been remembered. The heart of a stranger was moved with
compassion, and bestowed a recipe upon her for restoring gray hair to
its former color. She availed herself of this great help, and has
been quite successful; but her health is again falling, and she has
felt herself obliged to resort to another method of procuring her
bread—that of writ- ing an Autobiography.
I trust she will find a ready sale for her interesting work; and
let all the friends who purchase a volume, remember they are doing
good to one of the most worthy, and I had almost said most
unfortunate, of the human family. I will only add in conclusion, a
few lines, calculated to comfort and strengthen this sorrowful,
homeless one. "I will help thee, saith the Lord."
"I will help thee," promise kind Made by our High Priest above;
Soothing to the troubled mind, Full of tenderness and love.
"I will help thee" when the storm Gathers dark on every side;
Safely from impending harm, In my sheltering bosom hide.
"I will help thee," weary saint, Cast thy burdens ALL ON ME; Oh,
how cans't thou tire or faint, While my arm encircles thee.
I have pitied every tear, Heard and COUNTED every sigh; Ever lend
a gracious ear To thy supplicating cry. What though thy wounded bosom
bleed, Pierced by affliction's dart; Do I not all thy sorrows heed,
And bear thee on my heart? Soon will the lowly grave become Thy
quiet resting place; Thy spirit find a peaceful home In mansions NEAR
There are thy robes and glittering crown, Outshining yonder sun;
Soon shalt thou lay the body down, And put those glories on.
Long has thy golden lyre been strung, Which angels cannot move;
No song to this is ever sung, But bleeding, dying Love.
Having known the writer of this book for a number of years, and
knowing the many privations and mortifications she has had to pass
through, I the more willingly add my testimony to the truth of her
assertions. She is one of that class, who by some are considered not
only as little lower than the angels, but far beneath them; but I have
long since learned that we are not to look at the color of the hair,
the eyes, or the skin, for the man or woman; their life is the
criterion we are to judge by. The writer of this book has seemed to be
a child of misfortune.
Early in life she was deprived of her parents, and all those
endearing associations to which childhood clings. Indeed, she may be
said not to have had that happy period; for, being tak- en from home
so young, and placed where she had nothing to love or cling to, I
often wonder she had not grown up a MONSTER; and those very people
calling themselves Christians, (the good Lord deliver me from such,)
and they likewise ruined her health by hard work, both in the field
and house. She was in- deed a slave, in every sense of the word; and
a lonely one, too.
But she has found some friends in this degraded world, that were
willing to do by others as they would have others do by them; that
were willing she should live, and have an existence on the earth with
them. She has never enjoyed any degree of comfortable health since
she was eighteen years of age, and a great deal of the time has been
confined to her room and bed. She is now trying to write a book; and I
hope the public will look favorably on it, and patronize the same, for
she is a worthy woman.
Her own health being poor, and having a child to care for, (for,
by the way, she has been married,) and she wishes to edu- cate him; in
her sickness he has been taken from her, and sent to the county farm,
because she could not pay his board every week; but as soon as she was
able, she took him from that PLACE, and now he has a home where he is
contented and happy, and where he is considered as good as those he is
with. He is an intelligent, smart boy, and no doubt will make a smart
man, if he is rightly managed. He is beloved by his playmates, and
by all the friends of the family; for the family do not recognize
those as friends who do not include him in their family, or as one of
them, and his mother as a daughter—for they treat her as such; and
she certainly deserves all the affection and kind- ness that is
bestowed upon her, and they are always happy to have her visit them
whenever she will. They are not wealthy, but the latch-string is
always out when suffering humanity needs a shelter; the last loaf they
are willing to divide with those more needy than themselves,
remembering these words, Do good as we have opportunity; and we can
always find opportunity, if we have the disposition.
And now I would say, I hope those who call themselves friends of
our dark-skinned brethren, will lend a helping hand, and assist our
sister, not in giving, but in buying a book; the expense is trifling,
and the reward of doing good is great. Our duty is to our
fellow-beings, and when we let an opportunity pass, we know not what
we lose. Therefore we should do with all our might what our hands
find to do; and remember the words of Him who went about doing good,
that inasmuch as ye have done a good deed to one of the least of these
my brethren, ye have done it to me; and even a cup of water is not
forgot- ten. Therefore, let us work while the day lasts, and we shall
in no wise lose our reward.
MILFORD, JULY 20th, 1859.
Feeling a deep interest in the welfare of the writer of this book,
and hoping that its circulation will be extensive, I wish to say a few
words in her behalf. I have been acquainted with her for several
years, and have always found her worthy the esteem of all friends of
humanity; one whose soul is alive to the work to which she puts her
hand. . Although her complexion is a lit- tle darker than my own, I
esteem it a privilege to associate with her, and assist her whenever
an opportunity presents itself. It is with this motive that I write
these few lines, knowing this book must be interesting to all who have
any knowledge of the wri- ter's character, or wish to have. I hope no
one will refuse to aid her in her work, as she is worthy the sympathy
of all Chris- tians, and those who have a spark of humanity in their
Thinking it unnecessary for me to write a long epistle, I will
close by bidding her God speed.
C. D. S.