Mark and Hasty
by Matilda G.
SLAVE-LIFE IN MISSOURI.
The facts narrated in the following pages occurred in St. Louis a few
years ago. They were communicated to the author by a friend residing
temporarily in that city.
MARK AND HASTY.
On a bright and pleasant morning in the month of November, Mrs. Jennings
and her children were sitting in one of the bedrooms of a handsome
dwelling in St. Louis. It was evident that preparations were being made
for a long journey. Two large trunks, strapped and corded, stood in the
center of the room, while folded and unfolded articles of clothing lay
in confusion on the floor and chairs.
"Katy," said Mrs. Jennings to a colored girl, who had just entered the
room, "I wish you would bring in the other trunk, so that it will be
ready for the children's clothes when Hasty comes."
"Yes, missus," said Kate, and then, as she was leaving the room, she
turned and said: "There's Hasty comin' in de gate, though she aint got
de clothes wid her; 'pears to me she looks awful sorrowful."
"Why, Hasty, what is the matter?" inquired Mrs. Jennings, as a pretty,
but sad-looking mulatto woman made her appearance at the door.
"O missus!" she said, "you must please 'scuse me, kase I hasn't de
clothes done; but I'se been so nigh distracted dis week, dat I aint had
heart nor strength to do anything. My husband has been sold down South,
and I specs I'll never see him again if he once get down dar, kase dey
never gets back."
"Why, how did that happen, Hasty?" asked Mrs. Jennings. "Mark has always
been such a trusty servant, and has lived so long in the family, that I
thought nothing would have induced Mr. Nelson to part with him."
"Yes, missus, I knows all dat. Mark has been the faithfulest sarvant dat
his massa ever had. But ye see, on Saturday night when he cum down to
see me, little Fanny was berry sick, and I had been out washin' all day,
and Mark wanted me to go to bed, but I didn't; and we both sat up all
night wid de chile. Well, early de next morning he started for his
massa's, and got dere about church time, kase he had a good piece to
walk. Den he hauled out de carriage, and fed de horses, and while dey
was eatin', de poor crittur fell asleep. And after bit, Massa Nelson got
mighty uneasy, kase he had to wait for de carriage, so he sent one of de
men out to see whar Mark was; and dey found him asleep and went in and
told his massa. Den he sent for Mark to cum into de parlor, and when he
went in Massa Nelson axed him what right had he to go sleep, when it was
time for de carriage to be round. And Mark said dat his chile had been
sick, and he had sat up all night wid it, and dat was what made him so
sleepy. Den Massa Nelson said he had no right to sit up, if it was gwine
to interfere wid his work. And Mark stood right up and looked Massa
Nelson in de face, and said: 'Massa Nelson, I think I hab as much right
to sit up wid my sick chile, as you had to sit up de other night wid
little Massa Eddie.' O my sakes alive! but Massa Nelson was mad den; he
said: 'You, you black nigger, dare to talk to me about rights;' and he
struck Mark over de face wid de big carriage whip, and said 'he'd 'tend
to him in de mornin'.'"
"And did Mark say nothing more than that?" inquired Mrs. Jennings;
thinking that Hasty, like any other wife, would endeavor to hide her
"No, missus, dat was every ting he said, and just went away and got de
carriage round for Massa Nelson to go to church. Well, de next mornin'
Massa Nelson told him to put on his coat and follow him, and he toted
him down to old M'Affee's pen, and sold him to go down some river way
down South; and I have cum dis mornin'," she said, looking up
inquiringly into Mrs. Jennings's face, "to see if you, Missus, or Massa
Jennings, wouldn't do something for him."
"Well, Hasty, I'm sorry, very sorry for you," said Mrs. Jennings; "but
don't be down-hearted; I will postpone going East this week, and see
what can be done for you; and if my husband can't buy Mark, he probably
knows some one who wants a trusty servant, such as I know Mark to be.
However, Hasty, you may be assured that I will do all in my power to
prevent your husband from going."
Hasty dried her tears, and with many thanks took her departure, feeling
much comforted by the confident tone with which Mrs. Jennings spoke.
After Hasty had gone, Mrs. Jennings pondered, as she had never before
done, on the evil effects of slavery. She thought of Hasty's grief, as
poignant as would have been her own, had her husband been in Mark's
place, and which had changed that usually bright countenance to one
haggard with suffering. She thought of the father torn from his wife and
child; of the child fatherless, though not an orphan; of that child's
future; and as it presented itself to her, she clasped her own little
girl closer to her heart, almost fearing that it was to share that
future. Ah! she was putting her "soul in the slave soul's stead."
Mrs. Jennings, true to her promise, acquainted Mr. Jennings with the
transaction, and entreated him to make an effort immediately to rescue
Mark from his fearful doom.
"Well, my dear," he answered, "it appears that the boy has been
impudent, and I don't know that it would be right for me to interfere,
but Mark has always been such a good servant that if I had been his
master I would have overlooked it, or at least would not have punished
him so severely. However, I'll go down to M'Affee and see about him."
Accordingly, the next morning, he went down to the slave "pen" to see
the trader. He found him at the door of his office, a sleek, smiling,
well-dressed man, very courteous and affable, having the appearance of a
"Good morning, Mr. Jennings," said the trader, "what can I do for you
"Why, M'Affee, I called down to see about a boy named Mark, one of
Nelson's people. I heard you had him for sale, and as he is a good sort
of a fellow, I wouldn't mind buying him, if you are reasonable."
"Want to keep him in St. Louis?" inquired the trader.
"O! certainly, I want him for a coachman; ours gets drunk, and my wife
will not allow him to drive her."
"Well, Mr. Jennings, I am very sorry, but the fact is, Mr. Nelson was
very angry at Mark, and pledged me not to sell him in the State. You see
he was impudent, and you know that can't be allowed at all. I am right
sorry, but I dare say I can suit you in one quite as good. There's
Hannibal, one of Captain Adam's boys, he is a—
"No matter, I don't want him," interrupted Mr. Jennings; "I am not
particular about purchasing this morning. I only wanted him to please my
wife; she will be very much disappointed, as she has his wife washing
for her, and she will be in great distress at parting with her husband."
"Yes, yes, I see! It's a pity niggers will take on so. I am sorry I
can't accommodate Mrs. Jennings. If you should want a coachman, I should
be glad if you would call down, as I have a good stock on hand of
strong, healthy boys."
"Yes, when I want one I will give you a call. But do you really think
that Mr. Nelson would refuse to have him remain even in the State? I
really would like to keep the poor fellow from going down South, if I
paid a hundred or two more than he is worth."
"O! there is no chance for him. Mr. Nelson was positive in his
instructions. I don't think you need take the trouble to ask him, as I
am almost sure he will refuse."
"Then I suppose nothing can be done. Good morning," said Mr. Jennings.
"Good morning, sir; I am sorry we can't trade."
Mr. Jennings went home, and acquainted his wife with the result of his
mission. She was a kind mistress to her slaves, and had seen but little
of the horrors of slavery. To be sure, she had heard of instances of
cruelty, but they had made but little impression on her, and had soon
been forgotten. But here was a case which outraged every womanly feeling
in her breast, a case of suffering and wrong, occurring to persons in
whom she was personally interested, and she was aroused to the
wickedness of the system which allowed such oppression.
In the evening Hasty came up to see if anything had been done for her
relief. As she entered the room, the sorrowful expression of Mrs.
Jennings's face brought tears into her eyes, for she felt there was
"O poor Hasty!" said Mrs. Jennings.
"Don't say no more, missus, I see what's comin'. Poor Mark will go down
South. Seems to me I knowed it would be so from de fust. O dear! it'll
go nigh breaking me down. Tears like I can't stand it no how," said
Hasty, sobbing aloud.
Mrs. Jennings waited till the first burst of bitter grief was over, and
then tried to comfort her as well as she was able, but she felt how hard
it was to assuage such grief as this. She spoke to her of the hope of
seeing her husband again in this world, and of the certainty at least,
if both tried to do the will of God, of meeting in heaven. But her
efforts were unavailing, and her consoling words fell on a heart that
would not be comforted.
When Mrs. Jennings awoke the next morning, her first thoughts were of
Hasty, and she determined that the day should not pass over without her
making another effort for Mark. Accordingly, after breakfast she ordered
the carriage, intending to make a visit to Mr. Nelson's.
"Where are you going, Maggie?" inquired Mr. Jennings of his wife, as he
heard her give the order.
"I am going to Mr. Nelson's about Mark," she answered.
"Why, my dear, I told you what M'Affee said, that Nelson was implacable.
And besides, I am afraid he will think it impertinent in you to meddle
with his affairs."
"I shall make an apology for my visit," she answered, "but I cannot rest
satisfied until I hear a direct refusal from his own lips. His conduct
toward Mark seems more like revenge than punishment. I do not think he
can persist in it."
"Well, I give you credit for your perseverance," he said, laughingly,
"but I am afraid you will come home disappointed."
"If I do," she replied, "I shall feel less conscience-stricken than if I
had remained at home, knowing that I have done all in my power to
prevent his going."
As Mrs. Jennings rode along she felt that she had a disagreeable duty to
perform, but, like a true Christian woman, she shrunk not, but grew
stronger as she approached the dwelling of the lordly oppressor, and she
prayed to God for strength to be true to him and to the slave. When she
arrived, she entered the house of Mr. Nelson with strong hopes, but,
much to her disappointment, was informed that he had left the city, and
would be absent for some weeks. Her next thought was to see his wife, if
she was at home. The servant said that his mistress was at home, but
doubted if she could be seen.
"Present my card to her," said Mrs. Jennings, "and say to her that I
have called on business, and will detain her but a few moments if she
will see me."
The servant retired with the card, and in a few moments returned, saying
that Mrs. Nelson would be glad to see her in the sitting-room. When Mrs.
Jennings entered the room she apologized for the intrusion to a
handsome, though slightly careworn lady, who arose to receive her.
"Madame," said Mrs. Jennings, "I have called on you this morning in
relation to your servant Mark. I hope you will not think it impertinent
in me to interfere in this matter, but I am very much interested in him.
His wife has been my laundress for several years, and is exceedingly
distressed at the idea of being separated from him. She came to me
yesterday, and told me that he had been impertinent, and that Mr. Nelson
intended selling him down South. I promised to use what influence I had
to keep him in the city. And I have called this morning to see if I
could persuade Mr. Nelson to overlook this offense, pledging myself for
his future good conduct, for I really think that this will be a lesson
to him that he will never forget."
"I can appreciate and sympathize with your feelings." said Mrs. Nelson,
"for I have myself endeavored to change my husband's determination. But
he is a rigid disciplinarian, and makes it a rule never to overlook the
first symptom of insubordination in any of the servants. He says if a
servant is once permitted to retort, all discipline ceases, and he must
be sold South. It is his rule and he never departs from it. O! I
sometimes feel so sick when I see the punishments inflicted that seem
necessary to keep them in subjection. But we wives can do nothing,
however great our repugnance may be to it. The children have begged me
to take them to see Mark before he goes. I heard from one of the
servants that his owner intended starting to-morrow, so that this will
be the only opportunity they will have to see him, and I think I will
gratify them and let them go."
Mrs. Nelson rang the bell, and in a few moments Sally had the children
"I intended to go down myself," said Mrs. Jennings, "and if you have no
objections, I will take the children down in my carriage, as it is
waiting at the door."
"O, I thank you, that will suit me very well," said Mrs. Nelson, "as my
engagements this morning will hardly permit me to go, and I was almost
afraid to trust them with any of the other servants, now that Mark
Mrs. Jennings and the children immediately entered the carriage and
drove to the yard. As the carriage drew up before the door, Mr. M'Affee
came out and assisted the party to alight, and on hearing the business,
summoned Mark to them.
"O! Massa Eddie and Missy Bell," said he joyfully, "I'se so glad you cum
to see poor Mark; I was afeard I would never see you again."
"O yes," said Eddie, "we came as soon as mamma told us about it. You see
we didn't know it until yesterday, when we went out to ride, and that
cross old Noah drove us, and we couldn't tell what it meant; so as soon
as we came home Bell asked mother about it, and she said that you had
been naughty, and papa sent you away. But I don't care; I think pa might
forgive you just this once."
"Yes, so do I," broke in Bell; "pa ought to let you stay, because little
Fanny won't have any father to come and see at our house, and I like her
to play with me."
"I'se afeard Fanny won't play any more," said Mark sadly. "She is berry
sick; de doctor said it was de scarlet fever, and the oder night, when I
was up home, she was out of her head and didn't know me."
"Why, is she sick?" asked Bell; "I didn't know that; I'll ask mamma if I
can't go and see her when I get home. But mamma says maybe you'll come
back one of these days. Won't you, Mark?"
"No, honey, I don't ever 'spec to get back; and if I do, it will be a
long, long time. It's so far down where I'se sold to, down the Arkansas
river, I believe."
"Are you sold there, Mark?" inquired Mrs. Jennings.
"Yes, missus, and I don't know what'll come of poor Hasty when she knows
it. She was here dis morning, and said that you had gone to Massa
Nelson's, and was going to try to get me off; but I knowed how it would
be; but I couldn't bar to cast her down when she was so hopeful like, so
I didn't tell her I was sold. O Missus Jennings! do please comfort de
poor soul, she's so sick and weak, she can hardly bar up. I used to give
her all the arnings I got from people, but I can't give her any more. O
Lord! it comes nigh breakin' me down when I think of it," said Mark, the
big tears coursing down his face.
"Don't cry, Mark," said little Bell, "Eddie and I will save up our
money, and by the time we are big, we'll have enough to buy you; then
I'll send Eddie down to bring you home."
"Yes," said Eddie, "and mamma will give us many a picayune, when we tell
her what it's for."
Mrs. Jennings had been an interested spectator of the scene, and would
have remained longer with Mark, to comfort him; but as it was after the
dinner hour, she feared Mrs. Nelson would be anxious about the children,
so she told them it was time to go, and that they must part with Mark.
"Well, Mark, if we must go," said the children, throwing their arms
around his neck, "Good by."
"Good by, dear children," he said, "and please be kind to my poor little
Fanny, that will soon have no father."
"We will," they answered, as they sadly passed from the yard.
The following morning that sun rose warm and bright. All was bustle and
excitement on the levee. Its broad top was crowded with drays and cabs
conveying the freight and passengers to and from the steamboats, that
lay compactly wedged together at its edge.
About ten o'clock the bell of the "Aldon Adams" announced that its time
for starting had come. The cabs threaded their way through the piles of
goods and bales of cotton to the plank, and delivered their loads of
travelers flitting to the sunny South. The last package of freight was
being carried aboard, and everything was ready for the start. But all
who are going have not arrived. A sad procession is marching down to the
boat. It is M'Affee's gang! the men handcuffed, the women and children
walking double file, though not fettered. A little apart from the rest
we recognise Mark, and by his side walks Hasty. Little is said by
either, but O! they feel the more. At last they reached the plank that
was to separate them forever, yes, forever.
At that same spot farewells had been exchanged; farewells, sad and
tearful. Yet amid these tears, and with this sadness, hope whispered of
a glad meeting in the future—of a joyful reunion. But here there was no
such hope. Each felt that for them all was despair. Hark! the shrill
whistle and the impatient puffing of the steam, tell them they must
part. The rest have taken their places on the deck, and they too are
standing on the levee alone.
[Illustration: HASTY'S GRIEF.]
"Come, come, quit your parleying. Don't you see they are hauling in the
plank! Jump aboard, Mark, and don't look so glum. I'll git you another
gal down in Arkansas," said the trader.
Had he seen the look which Hasty cast upon him, he might have been
admonished by those words of Oriental piety; "Beware of the groans of a
wounded soul. Oppress not to the utmost a single heart, for a solitary
sigh has the power to overturn a world."
She turned from the trader, and, with a sob, as though the heart springs
were snapped, she threw herself into her husband's arms. Again, and
again he pressed her to his heart, then gently unclasping her hands, he
tottered along the plank, and nearly had he ended his saddened life in
the rolling stream below, but the ready hand of his owner caught him,
and hurried him aboard.
The plank was hauled aboard, and in an instant the boat was moving out
into the stream. The passengers congregated on the hurricane deck,
cheered, and waved their handkerchiefs to friends on shore, and her crew
answered the shouts of those on the other boats as she rapidly passed
them. Few saw, and those who did, without noting, the sorrowing woman,
who, leaning against a bale of goods, with one hand shading her eyes,
and the other pressed hard upon her heart, watching the receding boat,
until it turned a bend in the river, and was hidden from her sight. Yet
no watcher borne away upon the boat, nor any sorrowing one left upon the
shore, turned away, as the last traces of the loved ones faded, with a
heavier heart, or a feeling of such utter loneliness as did poor Hasty.
Despairingly, she turned toward home. No tears, no choking sobs; but
only that calm, frozen look to which tears and sobs would have been
The light, elastic step of but a week before was gone. She stopped not
now to gaze into the gay windows, or to watch the throng of promenaders;
but, with an unsteady pace, wended her way slowly to her humble home in
the lower part of the city.
"Stop, Aunt Hasty," said a colored woman belonging to Mrs. Nelson,
"missus gave me leave to cum down here dis afternoon to go home with
you, kase she said you would take it so hard parting with your ole man."
Hasty looked up as she heard the well known voice of the kind-hearted
"O! Sally," she said, "I'se got no home now; they has taken him away
that made me a home, and I don't keer for nothing now."
"You mustn't be down-hearted, Hasty," she said, "but look right up to de
Lord. He says, Call on me in de day of trouble, and I will, hear ye; and
cast your burden on me, and I will care for ye. And sure enough dis is
your time ob trouble, poor crittur."
"Yes," she answered, "and it has been my time of trouble ever since Mark
was sold, and I has prayed to de Lord, time after time, to raise up
friends to save Mark from going; but ye see how it is, Sally."
"Yes, I sees, Hasty, but ye mustn't let it shake your faith a bit, kase
de Lord will bring it all right in his time."
Thus talking, and endeavoring to console her, Sally accompanied Hasty to
her now desolate home. As she entered the room, the low moan of her
child fell upon her ear, and awoke her to the necessity of action. It
was well that there existed an immediate call on her, or her heart would
have sunk under the heavy burden of sorrow. She went hastily to the side
of the little sufferer, and passing her cold hand over the burning
forehead of her child, whispered soothing words of endearment.
"Is father come?" asked Fanny. "Ise been dreamin', and I thought for
sure he was here. 'Aint this his night to come home, mother?"
"No, honey, dis is Friday night," answered Hasty. "But never mind about
father now, but go to sleep, there's a good girl."
And sitting down by the side of her child, Hasty, with a mother's
tenderness, soothed her to sleep. All that long night she sat, but no
sleep shed a calm upon her heart; but when morning came exhausted nature
could bear up no longer, and she sank into a short but troubled slumber.
By the sick bed of her child,
In her cabin lone and drear.
Listening to its ravings wild,
Dropping on it many a tear,
Sat the mother, broken-hearted;
Every hope was in its shroud.
From her husband she'd been parted,
And to earth with grief she's bow'd.
Now within her ear is ringing
Drearily hope's funeral knell,
And the night wind wild is singing
Mournfully, the word farewell.
Day broke, and still mother and child slept on. Hasty's over-charged
heart and brain were for the first time, for some days, lulled to
forgetfulness. If this relief had not come, without doubt one would have
broken, and the other been lost in madness. Fanny was the first to
awake. The crisis of the disease had passed; the fever no longer
scorched her veins, and her mind no longer wandered. She was, however,
as weak as an infant, and as incapable of attending to her wants. For
the first time for many days she felt a desire for food, and raising
herself partly up, called to her mother to get her breakfast.
The voice of her child roused Hasty from her dreams of peace, to the
dread realities of her bereavement. For a few moments she could not
recall her scattered senses, but soon the remembrance of yesterday
crowded upon her mind, and the anguish depicted upon her face showed
that they had lost nothing of their intensity during their
"Why Fanny, child, is you awake? And de fever all gone, too? How is yer
dis mornin', dear?" asked Hasty.
"O! I feel a heap better, mother," answered Fanny; "and I think I will
be pretty near well by the time pappy comes to-night."
Every word her child uttered fell as a leaden weight upon her heart. Her
mind instinctively reverted to the last time her husband had been there.
Then no thought of separation clouded their minds, but together they
watched beside their sick child, beguiling the long hours of the night
with hopeful and loving converse. Then she thought of the incidents of
the week as they followed each other in quick succession, the news of
his sale, the trader's pen, the parting; all, all seemed burned upon her
brain in coals of living fire, and with a moan of agony she sank
insensible upon the bed.
A few moments after Mrs. Jennings entered the room. Ever since visiting
Mark, and witnessing his anguish, she had constantly thought of Hasty,
and longed for an opportunity of consoling her, and rendering her any
assistance in her power. Feeling this morning uneasy at not hearing from
her, she determined to go and see her. After some difficulty she at last
found her, and, as we have seen, arrived very opportunely. Instantly,
upon seeing the state of affairs, Mrs. Jennings ordered her coachman to
go for a physician, while she and her maid, whom she had brought with
her, used every means to restore Hasty to consciousness, and in a short
time they succeeded in their efforts.
The doctor arrived shortly after, and advised rest and quiet as the best
restoratives to her shattered nerves. The wants of Fanny were also
attended to, and the cravings of her appetite satisfied from a basket of
food which the thoughtful care of Mrs. Jennings had provided. Mrs.
Jennings's next thought was to procure a nurse for Hasty. Here she had
no difficulty, for the neighbors of Hasty willingly offered their
services. Selecting one who appeared thoughtful and tidy, Mrs. Jennings
returned home with a heart lightened by a consciousness of duty well
For some days Hasty lay in a kind of stupor, without taking any notice
of transpiring events, or seeming to recur to those of the past. She was
daily supplied with various little dainties and luxuries suitable to an
invalid, and received many other attentions from the kind-hearted Mrs.
Jennings. Fanny's health improved each day, and, as the buoyancy of
youth threw off the remains of disease, she regained her strength, and
at the end of the following week she was able to take almost the entire
charge of her mother. Hasty's eyes followed every movement of her child
with the in tensest eagerness, as if fearing that she too would be
taken from her.
When Fanny was fully recovered she learned the fate of her father. She
did not weep, or sob, or complain, but for the first time she realized
the shadow that slavery had cast over her; and the change was
instantaneous, from the mirthful, happy child, to the anxious, watchful
slave girl. Hereafter there was to be no trusting confidence, no
careless gayety, but this consciousness of slavery must mingle with
every thought, with every action.
One day, about a week after Hasty was taken sick, her mistress entered
her room. This lady was the widow of a Frenchman, one of the early
settlers of St. Louis, who had, by persevering industry, gained a
competency. Before he had an opportunity of enjoying it he died, and
left his property, consisting of a dwelling, five or six negroes, and
a good sum in the stocks, to his widow. Mrs. Le Rue, on breaking up
housekeeping, allowed Hasty to hire her time for two dollars a week,
on condition that at the end of each month the required sum was to be
forthcoming, and in the event of failure, the revocation of the
permission was to be the inevitable consequence.
The monthly pay-day found Hasty prostrated on a bed of sickness, and of
course it passed without the payment of the stipulated sum. This was the
immediate cause of her visit.
The anxiety depicted in the countenance of Mrs. Le Rue did not arise
from any sympathy for the emaciated and suffering woman before her, but
only from that natural vexation with which a farmer would regard the
sudden falling lame of a valuable horse. The idea of commiserating
Hasty's condition as a human being, as a sister, never for a moment
occurred to her; indeed, the sickness of the little poodle dog, which
she led by a pink ribbon, would have elicited far more of the sympathies
of her nature. In Hasty she saw only a piece of property visibly
depreciated by sickness.
"What is the matter with you, girl? Why have you not come to pay me my
money?" she asked harshly, as she took the seat that Fanny had carefully
"O missus! I'se been too sick to work dis two weeks; but I'se got five
dollars saved up for you, and if ever I get well I kin pay you the
"Pay the rest soon! Yes, you look very much like that. You are just
making a fool of yourself about your husband; that is the way you
niggers do. You are just trying to cheat me out of the money. I'll never
let one of my women get married again."
While the much-injured lady was delivering this speech, the poodle, who
had been intently watching the face of his mistress, and thinking some
one must be the offender, sprang at Fanny, viciously snapping at her
feet. She, poor girl, had watched every expression in the face of her
mistress, with the same anxiety as the courtiers of the sultan watch
that autocrat, who holds their lives and fortunes in his hand; and
surprised at this assault from an unlooked-for quarter, she jumped
aside, and in doing so trod upon the paw of her tormentor, and sent him
howling to the lap of his mistress.
This was the last drop that caused the cup of wrath to overflow. Without
heeding the protestations of Fanny, she seized her by the arm, and boxed
her ears soundly.
"What did you tread upon the dog for, you great clumsy nigger? I'll
teach you what I'll do, if you do anything of the kind again; I'll give
you a good whipping."
Then turning to Hasty, whose feeble nerves had been intensely excited by
this scene, she said: "I want you to get to work again pretty soon, and
not lie there too lazy to work. You need not think I am going to lose my
money by your foolishness. I shall expect your month's payment as usual,
and if I don't get it, I will hire you out like the rest. And there is
another thing I have to say; you are not going to keep this lazy girl
here to hinder you, and to spend money on. A lady I know wants just such
a girl to go to the door, and to wait on her, who will give me two
dollars a month for her, and it is quite time she was doing something. I
will not take her away now, but next week do you tidy her up and send
her to me."
Hasty was dying. She knew that it was to be so. For herself it was a
release which she hailed gladly; but the thought of leaving her child
rent her heart with anguish. She could see what the lot of that poor
waif of childhood, cast upon the sea of Southern despotism, would be,
and she longed to protect her from it. Yet what is a slave mother's
protection to her child? What blow can she arrest? What temptation
avert? None. Even a mother's claim is unrecognized, and the child's
affection unregarded. Hasty's strength gradually declined until Sunday,
when, feeling that death was near, she sent Fanny for Mrs. Jennings, for
the purpose of bidding her farewell, and asking her protection for her
daughter. Mrs. Jennings, on learning from Fanny the condition of Hasty,
immediately complied with the request. On entering the room she was
surprised and shocked at the ravages that mental and bodily suffering
had made on the once handsome woman. Seating herself by the bedside,
Mrs. Jennings inquired in what way she could ease the mind of the dying
mother. With earnestness did Hasty plead that her child might be rescued
from her present condition. She entreated Mrs. Jennings to buy Fanny
from Mrs. Le Rue, and bring her up in the fear of God, and beyond the
reach of a slave girl's perils.
All this Mrs. Jennings promised, and with many a word of comfort she
smoothed the passing of the immortal spirit into the unknown country.
She pointed to the Saviour, and told of his wondrous love, of the
equality of all in his sight, and of the saving power of his grace
extended to all, whether bond or free.
Just as the sun threw his last rays upon the spires of the city, Hasty's
spirit was released, and she was free. Fanny gave herself up to a
child's grief, and refused to be comforted. To the slave, the affections
are the bright spots in his wilderness of sorrow and care; and as an
Arab loves the oasis the better that it is in the midst of the desert,
so the slave centers the whole strength of his nature in his loved ones,
the more so that he is shut out from the hopes of wealth, the longings
of ambition, and the excitements of a freeman's life.
Mrs. Jennings verified her promise to Hasty, and soon after her death
purchased Fanny. But her whole soul revolted at a system which could
cause the suffering she had seen; and in the course of a few months she
prevailed upon her husband to close his business in St. Louis, and
remove to Chicago, where she is an active worker among the anti-slavery
women in that liberty-loving city. She has instilled the principles of
freedom for all men into the minds of her children, and recently wrote
the following verses for them on the occasion of the celebration of the
Fourth of July:
"Little children, when you see
High your country's banner wave,
Let your thoughts a moment be
Turned in pity on the slave.
"When with pride you count the stars,
When your hearts grow strong and brave,
Think with pity of the scars
Borne in sorrow by the slave.
"Not for him is freedom's sound;
Not for him the banners wave;
For, in hopeless bondage bound,
Toils the sad and weary slave.
"All things round of freedom ring—
Winged birds and dashing wave;
What are joyous sounds to him
In his chains, a fettered slave?"