Story by Matilda
A STORY FROM REAL LIFE.
"Look! look! mother, there comes old Aunt Judy!" said Alfred, as an old
colored woman came slowly up the gravel walk that led to the handsome
residence of Mr. Ford, of Indiana.
The tottering step, the stooping back, and glassy eye, betokened extreme
age and infirmity. Her countenance bore the marks of hardship and
exposure; while the coarse material of her scanty garments, which
scarcely served to defend her from the bleak December wind, showed that
even now she wrestled with poverty for life. In one hand she carried a
small pitcher, while with the other she leaned heavily on her
"She has come for her milk," said little Cornelia, who ran out and took
the pitcher from the woman's hand.
"Let me help you, Auntie, you walk so slow," said she.
"Come in and warm yourself, Judy," said Mrs. Ford, "it is cold and damp,
and you must be tired. How have you been these two or three days?"
"Purty well, thank ye, but I'se had a touch of the rheumatiz, and I find
I isn't so strong as I was," said Judy, as she drew near the grate, in
which blazed and crackled the soft coal of the West, in a manner both
beautiful and comforting.
Mrs. Ford busied herself in preparing a basket of provisions, and had
commenced wrapping the napkin over it, when she paused and leaned toward
the closet, into which she looked, but did not seem to find what she
wanted, for, calling one of the boys, she whispered something to him. He
ran out into the yard and down the path to the barn; presently he
returned and said,
"There are none there, mother."
"I am very sorry, Judy, that I have not an egg for you, but our hens
have not yet commenced laying, except Sissy's little bantam," said
Now Cornelia had a little white banty, with a topknot on its head and
feathers on its legs, which was a very great pet, of course; and Sissy
had resolved to save all banty's eggs, so that she might hatch only her
own chickens. "For," said she, "if she sets on other hen's eggs, when
the chickens grow big they will be larger than their mother, and then
she will have so much trouble to make them mind her."
Now, when she heard her mother wish for an egg, the desire to give one
to Judy crossed her mind, but it was some moments before she could bring
herself to part with her cherished treasure. Soon, however, her
irresolution vanished, and she ran quickly to her little basket, and
taking out a nice fresh egg, she laid it in Judy's hand, saying,
"There, Judy, it will make you strong."
Mrs. Ford marked with a mother's eye the struggle going on in the mind
of her daughter, but determined not to interfere, but let her decide for
herself, unbiased by her mother's wishes or opinions. And when she saw
the better feeling triumph, a tear of exquisite pleasure dimmed her eye,
for in that trifling circumstance she saw the many trials and
temptations of after life prefigured, and hoped they would end as that
did, in the victory of the noble and generous impulses of the heart.
When the basket was ready, and Aunt Judy regaled with a nice cup of tea,
one of the boys volunteered to carry it home for her, a proposal which
was readily assented to by Mrs. Ford, whose heart was gladdened by every
act of kindness to the poor and needy performed by her children, and who
had early taught them that in such deeds they obeyed the injunction of
our Saviour: "Bear ye one another's burdens."
Several weeks had passed away since Judy's visit, when, one day, as
Cornelia stood leaning her little curly head against her mother's
knee, she said:
"Mother, who is Judy? Has she a husband or children?"
"I do not know of any, my daughter. She may have some living; but you
know Judy was a slave, and they have probably been sold away from her,
and are still in slavery."
"In slavery, mother! and sold? Why, do they sell little children away
from their mothers?"
"Yes, Cornelia, there are persons guilty of such a wicked thing; mothers
and children, and whole families, are often separated from each other,
never, perhaps, to meet again!"
"So Judy was a slave, mother?"
"Yes, Cornelia, she was: and from all I have learned of her history, I
am sure she has led a very unhappy and sorrowful life."
"O! now I understand what you meant when you said that she had a thorny
path through life. Have you ever heard her history, mother? if you have,
won't you tell it to us?"
"Yes, do, mother, do!" exclaimed the children together.
"I should like very much to gratify you, my dear children, but it is not
in my power to do so, as I am not very well acquainted with her history.
But I will tell you how we can arrange it. Judy will he here to-night,
as, I promised to give her some Indian cakes, of which she is very fond,
and I have no doubt that she will tell you the story of her sad life."
The idea of hearing Judy's story occupied the mind of the children all
the afternoon, and the evening was looked forward to with great
impatience by them.
It was twilight, and Mrs. Ford and the children had gathered around the
warm, comfortable grate to await the return of papa. The wind whistled
without, and the snow-flakes fell silently and steadily to the
"Mother, can't I bring in the lights?" asked Cornelia, who was getting a
little impatient; only a little, for Cornelia was remarkable for her
sweet and placid disposition.
"Yes, dear, I think you may. Hark! yes, that is his footstep in the
hall. Go, Alfred, and tell Bessie to bring up the tea. And you,
Cornelia, bring your father's dressing-gown and slippers to the fire."
"Yes, wife, let us have some of Bessie's nice hot tea, for I am chilled
through and through; and such a cutting wind! I thought my nose would
have been blown off; and what would my little girl have said if she had
seen her papa come home without a nose? Would you have run?" asked
"No, indeed, papa, if your nose were blown off, and your teeth all
pulled out, and you were like 'Uncle Ned,' who had 'no eyes to see, and
had no hair on the top of his head,' I would just get on your lap as I
do now; so you see you could not frighten me away if you tried ever so
hard," said Cornelia, laughingly.
Supper was hastily dispatched, by the children, who were eager and
impatient for the coming of Aunt Judy.
"O mother! do you think she will come?" asked Alfred, as his mother
arose from the table to look at the weather.
"Well, indeed, Alfred, I am sorry to disappoint you, but I think there
is little probability of seeing Judy to-night."
"Why, no, mother, I thought that as soon as I saw what a stormy night it
was; and although it will disappoint us very much, I hope she will not
come," said little Cornelia.
"Why, how you talk, sis! Not come, indeed! Humph! I hope she will,
then. This little snow wouldn't hurt me, so it wouldn't hurt her," said
the impetuous Alfred.
"You must remember, my son, that Judy is old and infirm, and subject, as
she says, to a 'touch of the rheumatiz.' But I am sorry that she has not
come to-night. She may be sick; I think I will call down and see her
to-morrow," said Mrs. Ford, drawing out the table and arranging the
shade on the lamp, so that the light fell on the table and the faces of
those around it. They were cheerful, happy faces, and everything around
them wore the same look; and from the aspect of things, it seemed as if
they were going to spend a pleasant and profitable evening.
"Dear papa, tell us a story with a poor slave in it, won't you? and I
will give you as many kisses as you please," said Cornelia, twining her
arms around her father's neck.
"No, no, papa, not about the slave, but the poor Indian, who has been
far worse treated than the slave was or ever will be. Only to think of
the white people coming here, plundering their villages, and building on
their hunting grounds, just as if it belonged to them, when all the
while it was the Indians'. Now, if they had bought it and paid for it,
honorably, as William Penn did, it would have been a different thing;
but they got it meanly, and I'm ashamed of them for it," said Alfred,
his eyes flashing and his cheeks glowing with indignation.
"All that you have said is true, my son, but the Indians were also
guilty of great cruelty toward the white people," said Mr. Ford.
"But, papa, don't you think the Indians had good cause for their hatred
to the whites?" asked Harry.
"Why, Harry, they had no reason sufficient to justify them in their
cruel and vindictive course; but they did no more than was to be
expected from an entirely barbarous nation, and I am sure they had no
good example in the conduct of the white people, from whom much better
behavior might have been expected."
"Well, papa, what were some of the wrongs that the Indians endured!"
"The Indians regarded the whites as intruders, and maddened by some acts
of injustice and oppression committed by the early settlers, they
conceived a deadly hatred, which the whites returned with equal
intensity; and for each crime committed by either of them, the opposite
party inflicted a retribution more terrible than the act which provoked
it, and the Indian, being less powerful, but equally wicked, was
"Well, although I think the Indians were very wicked, I pity them, but I
feel a great deal more for the poor slave," said little Cornelia.
"I think they were very cruel, sis, but I still think that they were
very badly treated," said Alfred.
"There is no doubt of that," answered his father; "but, my son, when you
began the argument you said that you thought the Indians were more
deserving of compassion than the Africans. Now this is the difference.
The Indians were always a warlike and treacherous race; their most
solemn compacts were broken as soon as their own purposes had been
served. And they were continually harassing the settlers; indeed they
have not ceased yet, for at the present time they are attacking and
murdering the traders who cross the plains, if they are not well armed,
and in sufficiently large companies to keep them in check. Now the
Americans had never this cause of complaint against the Africans, for,
although like all heathen, they were debased, and were cruel and warlike
among each other, they never annoyed us in America. And the Americans
had not, therefore, even this insufficient excuse for enslaving them.
The Indians were robbed of their lands, and driven from their homes; but
the Africans not only lost their country, but were compelled to work in
slavery, for men to whom they owed no allegiance, in a different
climate, and with the ever-galling thought that they were once free. It
argues well for their peaceable disposition, that they have not long ago
revolted, and by a terrible massacre shaken off their yoke as they did
in St. Domingo. Now, which was the worst used in this case?"
"O! the slave, papa. I willingly surrender," said Alfred, laughing.
"Well, if you have finished, I move we go to bed, and thence to the land
of dreams," said Mrs. Ford, rising and putting away her sewing.
It was unanimously agreed that this was the best plan, and, after giving
thanks to God for his many mercies, they retired.
"Good morning, father," said Alfred; "I have been thinking that I
surrendered too soon last night; I did not bring out all my forces,
because I forgot something I heard that old Baptist minister say when he
was lecturing here a few days ago. He said that the Creek Indians would
not send the poor fugitives back to their masters. It is true they made
a treaty with our government to do so, but they had too much humanity to
keep it; and for not doing so, the government withheld two hundred and
fifty thousand dollars, which was due to the Indians for some lands, and
used it to pay the masters. But that made little difference to them, for
they still persisted in disobeying the 'Fugitive Slave Law.' Now don't
you think that was a good trait in their character?"
"Yes, Alfred, I do; they manifested a very generous and humane
"Well, but I think it was very dishonorable for them to break any
treaty," said Harry.
"You see, Harry, there is where you and I differ. I think it a great
deal better to break a bad promise than to keep it, answered Alfred.
"Come into breakfast, papa," said Cornelia, peeping her little curly
head in at the door, "Mamma wants you to come right away, because she
has to go to Judy's."
"Very well, we will go now, and not keep mother waiting. Just look at
the snow! How it sparkles! Jack Frost has been here, for the windows are
all covered and the water in the pitcher is frozen."
"Yes, papa, and see what funny shapes the icicles are in, and the trees
and bushes look as if they had their white dresses on," said
"It will be a splendid morning for a sleigh-ride. Would you like to take
one, mother?" asked Harry, after their breakfast was over and family
"Yes, my son, I should; I have to go to Judy's this morning; so we can
take the children to school first, and then pay my visit. I should like
to have the sleigh at the door pretty early, as I have several places to
go to after coming from Judy's."
"Very well, mother, you shall have it immediately. Now bundle sis up
warm, for there is a cutting wind, and I think it looks like snowing
again. And O! mother, I had nearly forgotten it, there was a poor Irish
family coming off the boat last night, who seemed destitute of both
clothing and food. If we have time this morning, won't you go and
"Perhaps I will," said his mother; and Harry ran off, but soon returned,
calling, "Come, mother, the sleigh is waiting, and the horse looks as if
he was in a hurry to be off."
"Yes, Harry, I am coming; I only went back to get a little milk for
Judy; she is so weak that I think she needs it."
"O mother!" said Alfred as they drove along, "what is more enlivening
than the merry jingling of the sleigh bells on a clear frosty day?"
"It is, indeed, very pleasant, Alfred; but while we are enjoying our
pleasant winter evenings, and our many sleigh rides, the thought comes
to our minds that however much we may like the winter time, there are
hundreds in our city who think of its approach with fear and trembling,
and who suffer much from cold and hunger, until the pleasant spring time
comes again. But you were telling me, Henry, about those poor people,
and I was too much occupied to attend to you. Do you know where they
live?" asked Mrs. Ford.
"Yes, just along the bank, mother; it is a wretched-looking house, and
very much exposed. Poor things! I pitied them very much; they appeared
so destitute, and even the children had a care-worn look on their
"What! in that old house, Harry?" exclaimed Alfred. "Why the windows
have hardly any panes in them, and there are great holes in the walls."
"Yes, Ally, that is the place, and it is, as you say, a rickety old
house; but I suppose it is the best they can get. But here we are at
school, Ally; you get out first, and I will hand sissy out to you. Take
hold of her hand, for the path is slippery."
The children alighted, and then Harry and his mother, after a pleasant
ride round the city, drove up to Aunt Judy's cottage.
"O Miss Ford! am dat you? Now who'd a thought on't? I'se sure you's de
best woman I ever see'd; now jist tell me what you cum'd out on sich a
day as dis for!" asked old Judy as Mrs. Ford entered the cottage. As for
Harry, he drove the horse hack to the stable until noon, when he was to
call for his mother on his way from school with Ally and Cornelia.
"Why, Judy, we came to see you; I thought that if you were sick, I could
perhaps comfort you."
"Wal, I has been sick wid de rheumatiz. O marcy! I'se had sich orful
pains all through me, and dats de reason I didn't cum last night. But,
bless us! honey, here I'se been standing telling you all my pains and
aches, and letting you stand in your wet feet; now come to de fire,
"My feet are not wet, Auntie, only a little cold. Harry brought me
around in the sleigh, and we were well wrapped up. Now, Judy, here are a
few things for you, some tea and sugar, a loaf of bread, and a bit
"Thanks, Missy Ford, I'se so glad to see a little tea; it's so long
since I tasted any. And a bit of bacon too! Wal, now I will have
"Do not wait till dinner time, Judy; I want you to make a cup of tea
now, and rouse yourself up, and try to recollect all that has passed and
happened to you since your childhood, for I promised the children that I
would tell them your history."
"Yes, missy, I'll try," said Judy, taking her little cracked earthen
teapot, and making her tea.
After it was made, and Judy was refreshed with a good breakfast, she
began and told Mrs. Ford the history of her sorrows and troubles, which
we will let Mrs. Ford tell to the children herself. It was quite a long
Judy had just finished speaking when they were interrupted by the
entrance of Harry, who had returned for his mother. Judy followed them
to the sleigh, for she said she "must cum out and see de chil'en, spite
of her rheumatiz."
"Auntie," said little Cornelia, "have my little banty's eggs hatched
yet?" Cornelia had sent the little banty and her eggs to aunt Judy, that
the chickens might be hatched under her care.
"Laws, yes, honey, I'll go in and get 'em for you to see; but I think
you had bettor not take them home yet, till they get bigger," said Judy,
going back into the house. In a little while she appeared with a little
covered basket in her hand. She unwrapped the flannel from around the
basket, and there lay six beautiful little white banties.
"O mamma! look at the little things! Are they not little beauties?" said
Cornelia, picking up one of them, and laying its soft feathery head to
"Yes, my dear; but you must give them back, and not keep Auntie waiting
in the cold."
Cornelia hesitated a little while, and then was giving it back
reluctantly, when her mother gently said, "Cornelia!" and she instantly
returned the basket to Judy.
After they were all seated in the sleigh, and Harry had touched the
horse with the whip, they heard some one calling after them, and on
looking behind there was poor old Judy carrying two hot bricks in
"Get out, Ally, and take them from her, and do not let her come so far
in the snow."
But while he was getting free from the entanglement of the buffalo skin,
Judy had come up, and, handing them to Mrs. Ford, said:
"Here, Missy, is these ar bricks. I heated 'em for you, and forgot 'em
till you was gone; take 'em honey; you's got more than a mile to go, and
I knows you will be cold."
Mrs. Ford thanked her, but gently reproved her for exposing herself.
They watched her as she trudged back in the snow, and then waving their
hands to her as she disappeared in the turn of the road, Harry touched
the horse, and in a few minutes they seemed as if they were actually
flying over the frozen surface.
When they arrived at home Bessie had a smoking dinner on the table for
them, which they partook of with great relish. After they had finished
their dinner, their mother said that as they had but one session at
school, they would have ample time to perform their tasks before
tea-time. Harry was to chop the wood, while Alfred was to pile it on the
porch; and Cornelia would finish the garters that she was kniting as a
Christmas present for papa. And after that they were to study their
lessons for the next day, so that they would be at leisure in the
evening. All cheerfully obeyed, and before tea-time their tasks were all
performed and lessons learned.
After the tea-things had been removed, "Now," said Mr. Ford,
'Stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtain, and wheel the sofa round,'"
"And be ready for Aunt Judy's story," added Alfred. "Come, mother, come;
we are all waiting."
"Have a little patience, my son, I will be there in a few minutes."
She soon reappeared, and was greeted with "three cheers" from the
children, and seating herself in the large comfortable rocking-chair,
"On the eastern side of the beautiful Roanoke was the residence of Mr.
Madison, and here the first few years of Judy's life was passed. She had
a kind master, and, while in his service, had a very happy time. She
had, like most of her race, a strong native talent for music, and was
frequently called upon to exercise it by singing songs, and dancing, for
the amusement of General Washington and the other officers of the
Revolution who visited at her master's house. Judy was then quite young,
and greatly enjoyed a sight of the soldier's gay uniform.
"Her master died when she was a child. Her mistress was then in very ill
health, and little Judy spent most of the time in her room, in
attendance upon her. One day her mistress was seized with a violent fit
of coughing. Judy ran to her assistance, and finding that the cough did
not yield to the usual remedies, called for help, but before aid was
obtained, Mrs. Madison was dead! She died with her arms around the neck
of her faithful attendant.
"Mrs. Madison had made provision for the emancipation of Judy, and after
her death she received her free papers, which she carefully guarded.
"After her mother's death, the daughter of Mrs. Madison determined to
remove to Kentucky, and Judy, being much attached to her and the family,
"Soon after her arrival there, Judy married a slave on the plantation of
Mr. Jackson, which was several miles distant from that of Judy's
mistress. John's master was very cruel to him; he would not allow him to
leave the estate, nor was Judy permitted to come to see him; and thus
they lived apart for several months; but the brutal treatment of his
master at last rendered John desperate, and he determined to run away.
It was a fearful risk, but if he succeeded, the prize, he thought, would
be sufficient compensation.
"One morning he had a pass from his master to go to a neighboring town
on business, and he thought this a good opportunity to execute the
project he had so long entertained. He started, and traveled all night,
and lay concealed in the woods all day, and on the third day after he
had left home he ventured on to the estate of Judy's mistress. He went
into one of the hen-houses, and it was not long before he saw Judy come
out to feed the poultry. She was very much frightened when she saw him,
and thought of the consequences that might arise from his master's rage
if he found him. However, she hid him in the barn, supplying him with
food at night. He stayed there more than a week, intending to leave
Kentucky after his master's pursuit should have ceased. But one morning
his master came to the house, and told Judy's mistress that one of his
slaves was concealed on the place, and asked permission to hunt him,
which was granted. He soon found him by the aid of one of the slaves
who had noticed Judy carrying food to the barn, and watched her till he
had discovered her husband, and then informed against him."
"O how mean to betray him!" exclaimed Alfred.
"Yes, Ally, it was; but I suppose it was the hope of reward that induced
him to be guilty of such a base act."
"And was he rewarded?" asked Cornelia, "for I am sure if he was he did
not deserve it."
"I do not know that he was, my daughter," answered Mrs. Ford. "John was
taken to jail and locked up until his master should return home. Judy
obtained a permit to enter the jail, and stayed with him in the cold,
damp cell, cheering him with her presence. She could not bear the
thought of being again separated, and determined to accompany him, let
the consequences be what they might. Her husband was taken to a
blacksmith's shop on the next day after his recapture, and a heavy pair
of handcuffs placed upon him, and a chain (having at the end a large
iron ball) was then fastened to his leg to prevent him from running, and
in this condition they started for home. They walked for six days, she
with her infant in her arms, and he, heavily loaded with irons. And she
told me that often her dress was one cake of ice up to her knees, the
snow and rain being frozen on her skirts. Her husband's shoes soon gave
way, and his feet bled profusely at every step. Judy tore off her skirt,
piece by piece, to wrap them in, for she loved him tenderly. But the
anguish of their bodies was nothing in comparison with that of their
minds. Fear for the consequences of the attempt, and regret that it had
not been successful, filled their hearts with grief, and they journeyed
on with no earthly hope to cheer them.
"Just think, my children, what they must have suffered through those
long dreary days, John going back to slavery and misery, and Judy not
knowing what her own fate might be. But she had comforted herself with
the thought that when John's master saw what a condition he was in, he
would relent toward him. But she was sadly mistaken, for he took him,
weary, sick, and suffering, as he was, and whipped him cruelly, and then
left him in an old shed."
[Illustration: HANDCUFFING JUDY'S HUSBAND]
"O mamma!" said little Cornelia, burying her face in her mother's lap,
and sobbing aloud, "Do they do such wicked things?"
"I wish I had hold of him," said Alfred, "wouldn't I give it to him?"
"I should feel very much grieved if I saw you harm him in any way, Ally.
Do you forget what our blessed Saviour said about returning good for
evil?" asked his mother.
"Well, but mother, I am sure it would have been no more than fair just
to give him a good cowhiding, so as it did not kill him."
"No more than he deserved, perhaps, but, my son, you should remember
that Jesus taught us that we should forgive the greatest injuries.
"After this cruel treatment of John, Judy, with the aid of one of the
other slaves who sympathized with her and John, carried him to a little
hut that was not so much exposed as the one in which he had previously
lain. He had a razor with which he had attempted to kill himself, but
Judy came in at that moment, and as he was very weak, she easily took it
from him; but he said:
"'O let me die! I would rather be in my grave, than endure this over
"He was sick and helpless a long time, but he would have suffered much
more if Judy had not been free, and had it in her power to nurse him.
There is many a poor slave that has fallen a victim to this kind of
barbarity, with no eye to witness his distress but his heavenly Father's.
"To add to John's misery was the brutal treatment of a little brother; a
smart active child of eight years of age, who was owned by the same man.
Mr. Jackson was a great drunkard, and when under the influence of liquor
no crime was too great for him. One day, for some slight offense, he
took the child, marked his throat from ear to ear, and then cut the rims
of his ears partly off and left them hanging down. A little while after
this, a gentleman, who had been in the habit of visiting at the house,
rode up, and noticing the child's throat, asked him how it happened. He
said, "Massa did it." The gentleman was so enraged, that he immediately
mounted his horse, rode away, and had him arrested.
"When John was able to leave his bed, his mistress, a kind and humane
woman, whose slave he had been before her marriage, took him and hid him
in a cave that was on the plantation, and supplied him with food,
intending to send him away as soon as she could do so safely.
"He was there several weeks, and his master supposed he had again
escaped, and was hid somewhere in the woods, but he had become so much
dissipated that he took no interest in his business affairs, and never
explored the hiding-places on his own plantation. One day a gentleman by
the name of Mr. Lawrence, of Vincennes, came to Mr. Jackson's to
purchase a servant to take with him to Indiana.
"Why, mother, I thought that they would not allow any one to hold slaves
here," said Ally.
"No, they do not, my son, but this gentleman was to take him as a bound
servant for a term of years, and he probably supposed that poor John's
legal rights would not be very carefully examined. John was sold in the
woods for a small sum. After the bargain was concluded, Mr. Lawrence
asked if the slave had a wife on the plantation, and was told that he
had. Judy was pointed out to him. He asked her if she knew where her
husband was, and she told him that she did; for she thought it was
better for him to leave his cave, as it was damp and comfortless. So
that night, with new hope in her heart, Judy went to his lone and dreary
hiding-place, and told him of the bargain. Any change was a relief to
him, and he came willingly out, and made preparations for going with Mr.
Lawrence. He waited until his master was in bed, and too deeply
stupefied with liquor to heed what was passing, and then came to the
place appointed. Mrs. Jackson gave him some clothes, and made what
provision she could for his comfort on the way. John had a horse given
him to ride upon, but Judy was taken no notice of; yet she determined to
walk the three days' journey, rather than be separated from John.
"Mr. Lawrence, when he perceived Judy was following them, tried to
persuade her to return, for she had a young child with her, and he was
afraid she would be troublesome. He told her that after her husband was
settled in Vincennes, he would send for her, but she had learned to
place no confidence in promises made to a slave; so she resolved she
would go, believing if she lost sight of her husband she would never see
"They had to cross the Ohio in a ferry boat, and Judy strained every
nerve to reach it before them. She did so; and hurrying up the stairs
with her baby, she clasped the railings, resolved to stay there, unless
compelled by violence to leave the boat. But no one noticed her, and she
arrived safely on the other side. After walking some miles, poor Judy
became tired and weary, and her strength failed her, and she was afraid
that after all she had gone through, for the sake of her husband, she
would be left at last. But she thought she would make another effort, so
she told Mr. Lawrence that if he would buy her a horse to ride upon, she
would bind herself to him for six months after they arrived in Indiana.
He agreed to do so, and bought her a horse. After they reached
Vincennes, and Judy had worked out her six months, she again bound
herself to him to serve out her husband's time, for he was very weak and
feeble, and was suffering with a severe cough, and Judy longed to see
him own his own body. But God freed him before the year was out. He had
suffered so much from severe whipping and abuse of every kind that he
wasted away and died of consumption.
"After his death Judy remained with his master for some time, but she
finally became dissatisfied, and longed to go back to Mrs. Madison's
daughter, and see her home once more. She mentioned this to Mr.
Lawrence, but he took no notice of it until, one day, he came to her
"'Judy, I want you to come down to the auction rooms, I have bought a
few things to-day, and I want you to carry them home; and you might as
well bring little Charley along with you, he can help you.'
"The little Charley here spoken of was a smart child of five or six
years of age. Judy and Charley accompanied Mr. Lawrence to the rooms.
When they arrived there Judy observed a number of strange-looking men
who appeared to be earnestly conversing on some subject which interested
Mr. Lawrence deeply. But Judy suspected nothing, and had begun arranging
the things so that she could carry them more conveniently, when her
master turned round to her and said:
"'Judy, you have become dissatisfied with me, and I have got you a new
"Judy was frightened, and attempted to run, but one of them caught her,
and dragging her to a trap door, let her down. Little Charley, not
knowing what had become of his mother, began to cry, but one of the men
held him and told him to stop making such a noise.
"Judy remained in the cellar until a vessel came along, and she was then
taken out, and a handkerchief tied tightly over her mouth to prevent her
from screaming or making any noise. She was then hurried on board of the
boat, with a cargo of slaves bound for the far South. It seemed now as
if her 'cup of bitterness was full.' As she was on the deck, in grief
and terror, she heard some one calling 'Mother! mother!' and on looking
up, there was her darling boy. She asked him how he came there;
"'A naughty man that put you down in the cellar carried me to his house,
and locked me up, and then brought me here.'
[Illustration: WAITING TO BE SOLD.]
"Poor Judy! she knew in a moment that both were to be sold, and no
language can describe her anguish; her free papers were left behind, and
another one of her children, her little daughter Fanny. She did not know
what would become of her, or where she was going. After sailing for
several weeks, they arrived at a place which she thinks was called
Vicksburg; here they were taken off the boat, and carried to the auction
rooms, where a sale was then going on. In a little while after they came
in, a gentleman walked up to them, and after looking at little Charley,
placed him on the block. Poor Judy's heart was almost bursting; but when
she saw a man buy and carry away the pride and joy of her heart, she
became frantic, and screamed after him, but he was picked up and carried
from her sight. It was too much for her; all was a mist in a moment, and
she sank senseless to the floor. When she revived she found herself
lying on an old pile of cotton in one corner of the auction rooms. The
auctioneer, seeing that she had arisen, bade her stand in the pen, along
with the other negroes. Judy mechanically obeyed, and took her place
with the others, and was sitting like one in a dream, when she was
aroused by a man slapping her on the back.
"'Come, look spry, old woman,' said he.
"'Could you look spry, massa, if your child, your son you loved as well
as your life, was torn away from you? O God!' said she, burying her face
in her hands, 'have mercy on me, and help me to be resigned.'
"'Yes, I'll make you resigned,' said he, sneeringly, slapping her across
the back. 'Now you follow me, and don't let me hear a word out of
"Judy obeyed, and after arriving at the wharf, they went on board a
vessel that was bound for New Orleans. In about a week after they had
started, they arrived at Mr. Martin's plantation, where Judy saw about
one hundred and fifty slaves at work in the field. Without being allowed
a moment to rest herself, after her long walk from the boat, she was
given a basket and ordered to the field. Poor Judy's head was aching
severely, and when she was exposed to the scorching rays of the sun of
the south, her temples throbbed wildly, and O! how she longed for some
quiet shady place, where she could bathe her fevered brow and rest her
weary limbs. But she must not think of stopping a moment to rest, for
the eyes of the brutal overseer were upon her, and the thought of the
stinging lash, the smart and pain, came across her mind, and urged her
on, and made her work with greater swiftness than before. At last the
weary, weary day drew to a close, and it was getting quite dark, and the
dew was beginning to fall, and Judy was expecting every moment to hear
the order for them to return home. But still they worked on, and hour
after hour passed, until it was almost midnight, and not till then did
the joyful summons come for them to stop."
"Why, mamma, do they make them work so late as that?" asked Cornelia.
"Yes, my daughter, in the busy season the poor slaves are often kept out
very late. After they had received the order to return home, Judy, with
aching limbs, joined the other slaves who were wearily wending their way
to the little out-house where the overseer was weighing their cotton. As
they presented their baskets to be weighed, they watched eagerly to see
if their baskets were approved of. Judy gladly heard that hers was the
full weight, and after ascertaining where she was to sleep, and
receiving her allowance of corn, she went to the shed pointed out to
her. She made her cakes for her supper and for the next morning, and
then laid down upon her bed, or rather on a pile of straw with an old
piece of sheet spread over it. Judy was much exhausted, and soon fell
asleep, notwithstanding the roughness of her bed. But it seemed as
though she had scarcely closed her eyes before the plantation bell rang,
and called them to another weary day's work.
"Thus many, many months passed, of toiling from day to day, and from
morning till night. One morning they saw one of the house servants
running toward them; he told them that their master was dead. He had
died suddenly from a fit of appoplexy. The tidings were received by Judy
with joy. You must pardon her, my children, for this man had been a
cruel master to her, and she thought that, as he had neither wife nor
children, his slaves would be sold, and perhaps she would get farther
north, and in the neighborhood of her old home, and might meet with some
of her old friends who would prove that she was free.
"A few days after Mr. Martin's funeral there was a meeting of his heirs,
and they determined to sell the slaves. Accordingly the next morning
they were marched down to the wharf, where they found a boat at anchor,
and all went on board. We will pass over the wearisome trip of several
days, and imagine them to be at the end of their journey at Memphis.
Here they were taken off the boat, and placed in jail until auction day.
In a few days they were again taken out and tied in couples, and taken
to the auction. Judy was sitting very disconsolate, thinking of her past
misfortunes and coming sorrows. The hope of seeing any of her old
friends, or of being reunited with her children, she had almost given
up. The auctioneer called to her, and she stepped on the block. Her
strong and well-proportioned figure, and comely, though dejected and sad
appearance, instantly raised a dozen bids. First here, now there, might
be heard the voice of the competitors; the noise of the hammer ceased,
and Judy was the property of Mr. Carter. After his purchase Mr. Carter
was taking Judy to the boat, when she felt some one catching hold of her
arm; she turned around and immediately recognized the person as a
gentleman whom she had known while living with Mrs. Madison's daughter.
He said to her:
"'Why, Judy, where are you going?'
"She answered in a kind of wicked despair:
"'To hell, I believe.'
"This gentleman inquired about her condition, and finally rescued her,
and sent her to Vincennes, where she labored for many years and found
some good friends, but she never felt safe after she had been stolen
away from there. She made inquiries about her children, but never
learned anything of them. Not having anything to attach her to
Vincennes, she left and came to Terra Haute, where she resided a little
while, and then came further into the interior of the state.
"Her children are scattered, and gone she knows not where; and after a
long life of toil and suffering she is here, old, infirm, and a beggar.
Every wrinkle on her brow could tell a tale of suffering; her youth is
gone; her energies are all spent, and her long life of toil has been
Mrs. Ford ceased, her tears were falling fast, and the children were
sobbing around her. The fire, from neglect, had gone out, and there were
only a few smoking embers left in the fire-place, reminding them of the
time that had been spent in hearing "AUNT JUDY'S STORY."
[Illustration: AUNT JUDY.]