It was late in a drizzly afternoon that
a traveler alighted at the door of a small country hotel, in the village of
N----, in Kentucky. In the barroom
he found assembled quite a miscellaneous company, whom stress of weather had
driven to harbor, and the place presented the usual scenery of such reunions.
Great, tall, raw-boned Kentuckians, attired in hunting-shirts, and
trailing their loose joints over a vast extent of territory, with the easy
lounge peculiar to the race,--rifles stacked away in the corner, shot-pouches,
game-bags, hunting-dogs, and little negroes, all rolled together in the
corners,--were the characteristic features in the picture.
At each end of the fireplace sat a long-legged gentleman, with his chair
tipped back, his hat on his head, and the heels of his muddy boots reposing
sublimely on the mantel-piece,--a position, we will inform our readers,
decidedly favorable to the turn of reflection incident to western taverns, where
travellers exhibit a decided preference for this particular mode of elevating
Mine host, who stood behind the bar,
like most of his country men, was great of stature, good-natured and
loose-jointed, with an enormous shock of hair on his head, and a great tall hat
on the top of that.
In fact, everybody in the room bore on
his head this characteristic emblem of man's sovereignty; whether it were felt
hat, palm-leaf, greasy beaver, or fine new chapeau, there it reposed with true
republican independence. In truth,
it appeared to be the characteristic mark of every individual.
Some wore them tipped rakishly to one side--these were your men of humor,
jolly, free-and-easy dogs; some had them jammed independently down over their
noses--these were your hard characters, thorough men, who, when they wore their
hats, _wanted_ to wear them, and to wear them just as they had a mind to; there
were those who had them set far over back--wide-awake men, who wanted a clear
prospect; while careless men, who did not know, or care, how their hats sat, had
them shaking about in all directions. The
various hats, in fact, were quite a Shakespearean study.
Divers negroes, in very free-and-easy
pantaloons, and with no redundancy in the shirt line, were scuttling about,
hither and thither, without bringing to pass any very particular results, except
expressing a generic willingness to turn over everything in creation generally
for the benefit of Mas'r and his guests. Add to this picture a jolly, crackling, rollicking fire,
going rejoicingly up a great wide chimney,--the outer door and every window
being set wide open, and the calico window-curtain flopping and snapping in a
good stiff breeze of damp raw air,--and you have an idea of the jollities of a
Your Kentuckian of the present day is a
good illustration of the doctrine of transmitted instincts and pecularities.
His fathers were mighty hunters,--men who lived in the woods, and slept
under the free, open heavens, with
the stars to hold their candles; and their descendant to this day always acts as
if the house were his camp,--wears his hat at all hours, tumbles himself about,
and puts his heels on the tops of chairs or mantelpieces, just as his father
rolled on the green sward, and put his upon trees and logs,--keeps all the
windows and doors open, winter and summer, that he may get air enough for his
great lungs,--calls everybody "stranger," with nonchalant bonhommie,
and is altogether the frankest, easiest, most jovial creature living.
Into such an assembly of the free and
easy our traveller entered. He was
a short, thick-set man, carefully dressed, with a round, good-natured
countenance, and something rather fussy and particular in his appearance.
He was very careful of his valise and umbrella, bringing them in with his
own hands, and resisting, pertinaciously, all offers from the various servants
to relieve him of them. He looked
round the barroom with rather an anxious air, and, retreating with his valuables
to the warmest corner, disposed them under his chair, sat down, and looked
rather apprehensively up at the worthy whose heels illustrated the end of the
mantel-piece, who was spitting from right to left, with a courage and energy
rather alarming to gentlemen of weak nerves and particular habits.
"I say, stranger, how are ye?"
said the aforesaid gentleman, firing an honorary salute of tobacco-juice in the
direction of the new arrival.
"Well, I reckon," was the
reply of the other, as he dodged, with some alarm, the threatening honor.
"Any news?" said the
respondent, taking out a strip of tobacco and a large hunting-knife from his
"Not that I know of," said the
"Chaw?" said the first
speaker, handing the old gentleman a bit of his tobacco, with a decidedly
"No, thank ye--it don't agree with
me," said the little man, edging off.
"Don't, eh?" said the other,
easily, and stowing away the morsel in his own mouth, in order to keep up the
supply of tobacco-juice, for the general benefit of society.
The old gentleman uniformly gave a
little start whenever his long-sided brother fired in his direction; and this
being observed by his companion, he very good-naturedly turned his artillery to
another quarter, and proceeded to storm one of the fire-irons with a degree of
military talent fully sufficient to take a city.
"What's that?" said the old
gentleman, observing some of the company formed in a group around a large
"Nigger advertised!" said one
of the company, briefly.
Mr. Wilson, for that was the old
gentleman's name, rose up, and, after carefully adjusting his valise and
umbrella, proceeded deliberately to take out his spectacles and fix them on his
nose; and, this operation being performed, read as follows:
"Ran away from the subscriber, my mulatto boy, George.
Said George six feet in height, a very light mulatto, brown curly hair;
is very intelligent, speaks handsomely, can read and write, will probably try to
pass for a white man, is deeply scarred on his back and shoulders, has been
branded in his right hand with the letter H.
"I will give four hundred dollars for him alive, and the same sum
for satisfactory proof that he has been killed."_
old gentleman read this advertisement from end to end in a low voice, as if he
were studying it.
The long-legged veteran, who had been
besieging the fire-iron, as before related, now took down his cumbrous length,
and rearing aloft his tall form, walked up to the advertisement and very
deliberately spit a full discharge of tobacco-juice on it.
"There's my mind upon that!"
said he, briefly, and sat down again.
"Why, now, stranger, what's that
for?" said mine host.
"I'd do it all the same to the
writer of that ar paper, if he was here," said the long man, coolly
resuming his old employment of cutting tobacco.
"Any man that owns a boy like that, and can't find any better way o'
treating on him, _deserves_ to lose him. Such
papers as these is a shame to Kentucky; that's my mind right out, if anybody
wants to know!"
"Well, now, that's a fact,"
said mine host, as he made an entry in his book.
"I've got a gang of boys,
sir," said the long man, resuming his attack on the fire-irons, "and I
jest tells 'em--`Boys,' says I,--`_run_ now! dig! put! jest when ye want to!
I never shall come to look after you!'
That's the way I keep mine. Let
'em know they are free to run any time, and it jest breaks up their wanting to.
More 'n all, I've got free papers for 'em all recorded, in case I gets
keeled up any o' these times, and they know it; and I tell ye, stranger, there
an't a fellow in our parts gets more out of his niggers than I do.
Why, my boys have been to Cincinnati, with five hundred dollars' worth of
colts, and brought me back the money, all straight, time and agin.
It stands to reason they should. Treat
'em like dogs, and you'll have dogs' works and dogs' actions. Treat 'em like men, and you'll have men's works."
And the honest drover, in his warmth, endorsed this moral sentiment by
firing a perfect _feu de joi_ at the fireplace.
"I think you're altogether right,
friend," said Mr. Wilson; "and this boy described here _is_ a fine
fellow--no mistake about that. He
worked for me some half-dozen years in my bagging factory, and he was my best
hand, sir. He is an ingenious
fellow, too: he invented a machine for the cleaning of hemp--a really valuable
affair; it's gone into use in several factories.
His master holds the patent of it."
"I'll warrant ye," said the
drover, "holds it and makes money out of it, and then turns round and
brands the boy in his right hand. If
I had a fair chance, I'd mark him, I reckon so that he'd carry it _one_
"These yer knowin' boys is allers
aggravatin' and sarcy," said a coarse-looking fellow, from the other side
of the room; "that's why they gets cut up and marked so.
If they behaved themselves, they wouldn't."
"That is to say, the Lord made 'em
men, and it's a hard squeeze gettin 'em down into beasts," said the drover,
"Bright niggers isn't no kind of
'vantage to their masters," continued the other, well entrenched, in a
coarse, unconscious obtuseness, from the contempt of his opponent; "what's
the use o' talents and them things, if you can't get the use on 'em yourself?
Why, all the use they make on 't is to get round you.
I've had one or two of these fellers, and I jest sold 'em down river. I knew I'd got to lose 'em, first or last, if I didn't."
"Better send orders up to the Lord,
to make you a set, and leave out their souls entirely," said the drover.
Here the conversation was interrupted by
the approach of a small one-horse buggy to the inn. It had a genteel appearance, and a well-dressed, gentlemanly
man sat on the seat, with a colored servant driving.
The whole party examined the new comer
with the interest with which a set of loafers in a rainy day usually examine
every newcomer. He was very tall,
with a dark, Spanish complexion, fine, expressive black eyes, and close-curling
hair, also of a glossy blackness. His
well-formed aquiline nose, straight thin lips, and the admirable contour of his
finely-formed limbs, impressed the whole company instantly with the idea of
something uncommon. He walked
easily in among the company, and with a nod indicated to his waiter where to
place his trunk, bowed to the company, and, with his hat in his hand, walked up
leisurely to the bar, and gave in his name as Henry Butter, Oaklands, Shelby
County. Turning, with an
indifferent air, he sauntered up to the advertisement, and read it over.
"Jim," he said to his man,
"seems to me we met a boy something like this, up at Beman's, didn't
"Yes, Mas'r, said Jim, "only I
an't sure about the hand."
"Well, I didn't look, of
course," said the stranger with a careless yawn.
Then walking up to the landlord, he desired him to furnish him with a
private apartment, as he had some writing to do immediately.
The landlord was all obsequious, and a
relay of about seven negroes, old and young, male and female, little and big,
were soon whizzing about, like a covey of partridges, bustling, hurrying,
treading on each other's toes, and tumbling over each other, in their zeal to
get Mas'r's room ready, while he seated himself easily on a chair in the middle
of the room, and entered into conversation with the man who sat next to him.
The manufacturer, Mr. Wilson, from the
time of the entrance of the stranger, had regarded him with an air of disturbed
and uneasy curiosity. He seemed to
himself to have met and been acquainted with him somewhere, but he could not
recollect. Every few moments, when
the man spoke, or moved, or smiled, he would start and fix his eyes on him, and
then suddenly withdraw them, as the bright, dark eyes met his with such
unconcerned coolness. At last, a
sudden recollection seemed to flash upon him, for he stared at the stranger with
such an air of blank amazement and alarm, that he walked up to him.
"Mr. Wilson, I think," said
he, in a tone of recognition, and extending his hand. "I beg your pardon, I didn't recollect you before.
I see you remember me,--Mr. Butler, of Oaklands, Shelby County."
"Ye--yes--yes, sir," said Mr.
Wilson, like one speaking in a dream.
Just then a negro boy entered, and
announced that Mas'r's room was ready.
"Jim, see to the trunks," said
the gentleman, negligently; then addressing himself to Mr. Wilson, he
added--"I should like to have a few moments' conversation with you on
business, in my room, if you please."
Mr. Wilson followed him, as one who
walks in his sleep; and they proceeded to a large upper chamber, where a
new-made fire was crackling, and various servants flying about, putting
finishing touches to the arrangements.
When all was done, and the servants
departed, the young man deliberately locked the door, and putting the key in his
pocket, faced about, and folding his arms on his bosom, looked Mr. Wilson full
in the face.
"George!" said Mr. Wilson.
"Yes, George," said the young
"I couldn't have thought it!"
"I am pretty well disguised, I
fancy," said the young man, with a smile.
"A little walnut bark has made my yellow skin a genteel brown, and
I've dyed my hair black; so you see I don't answer to the advertisement at
"O, George! but this is a dangerous
game you are playing. I could not
have advised you to it."
"I can do it on my own
responsibility," said George, with the same proud smile.
We remark, _en passant_, that George
was, by his father's side, of white descent.
His mother was one of those unfortunates of her race, marked out by
personal beauty to be the slave of the passions of her possessor, and the mother
of children who may never know a father. From one of the proudest families in Kentucky he had
inherited a set of fine European features, and a high, indomitable spirit.
From his mother he had received only a slight mulatto tinge, amply
compensated by its accompanying rich, dark eye.
A slight change in the tint of the skin and the color of his hair had
metamorphosed him into the Spanish-looking fellow he then appeared; and as
gracefulness of movement and gentlemanly manners had always been perfectly
natural to him, he found no difficulty in playing the bold part he had
adopted--that of a gentleman travelling with his domestic.
Mr. Wilson, a good-natured but extremely
fidgety and cautious old gentleman, ambled up and down the room, appearing, as
John Bunyan hath it, "much tumbled up and down in his mind," and
divided between his wish to help George, and a certain confused notion of
maintaining law and order: so, as he shambled about, he delivered himself as
"Well, George, I s'pose you're
running away--leaving your lawful master, George--(I don't wonder at it)--at the
same time, I'm sorry, George,--yes, decidedly--I think I must say that,
George--it's my duty to tell you so."
"Why are you sorry, sir?" said
"Why, to see you, as it were,
setting yourself in opposition to the laws of your country."
"_My_ country!" said George,
with a strong and bitter emphasis; "what country have I, but the
grave,--and I wish to God that I was laid there!"
"Why, George, no--no--it won't do;
this way of talking is wicked--unscriptural.
George, you've got a hard master--in fact, he is--well he conducts
himself reprehensibly--I can't pretend to defend him. But you know how the angel commanded Hagar to return to her
mistress, and submit herself under the hand; and the apostle sent back
Onesimus to his master."
 Gen. 16.
The angel bade the pregnant Hagar return to her mistress Sarai, even
though Sarai had dealt harshly with her.
Phil. 1:10. Onesimus went
back to his master to become no longer a servant but a "brother
"Don't quote Bible at me that way, Mr. Wilson," said
George, with a flashing eye, "don't! for my wife is a Christian, and I mean
to be, if ever I get to where I can; but to quote Bible to a fellow in my
circumstances, is enough to make him give it up altogether.
I appeal to God Almighty;--I'm willing to go with the case to Him, and
ask Him if I do wrong to seek my freedom."
"These feelings are quite natural,
George," said the good-natured man, blowing his nose.
"Yes, they're natural, but it is my duty not to encourage 'em in
you. Yes, my boy, I'm sorry for
you, now; it's a bad case--very bad; but the apostle says, `Let everyone abide
in the condition in which he is called.' We
must all submit to the indications of Providence, George,--don't you see?"
George stood with his head drawn back,
his arms folded tightly over his broad breast, and a bitter smile curling his
"I wonder, Mr. Wilson, if the
Indians should come and take you a prisoner away from your wife and children,
and want to keep you all your life hoeing corn for them, if you'd think it your
duty to abide in the condition in which you were called. I rather think that you'd think the first stray horse you
could find an indication of Providence--shouldn't you?"
The little old gentleman stared with
both eyes at this illustration of the case; but, though not much of a reasoner,
he had the sense in which some logicians on this particular subject do not
excel,--that of saying nothing, where nothing could be said.
So, as he stood carefully stroking his umbrella, and folding and patting
down all the creases in it, he proceeded on with his exhortations in a general
"You see, George, you know, now, I
always have stood your friend; and whatever I've said, I've said for your good.
Now, here, it seems to me, you're running an awful risk.
You can't hope to carry it out. If
you're taken, it will be worse with you than ever; they'll only abuse you, and
half kill you, and sell you down the river."
"Mr. Wilson, I know all this,"
said George. "I _do_ run a
risk, but--" he threw open his overcoat, and showed two pistols and a
bowie-knife. "There!" he
said, "I'm ready for 'em! Down
south I never _will_ go.
No! if it comes to that, I can earn
myself at least six feet of free soil,--the first and last I shall ever own in
"Why, George, this state of mind is
awful; it's getting really desperate George.
I'm concerned. Going to
break the laws of your country!"
"My country again!
Mr. Wilson, _you_ have a country; but what country have _I_, or any one
like me, born of slave mothers? What
laws are there for us? We don't
make them,--we don't consent to them,--we have nothing to do with them; all they
do for us is to crush us, and keep us down.
Haven't I heard your Fourth-of-July speeches?
Don't you tell us all, once a year, that governments derive their just
power from the consent of the governed? Can't
a fellow _think_, that hears such things? Can't
he put this and that together, and see what it comes to?"
Mr. Wilson's mind was one of those that
may not unaptly be represented by a bale of cotton,--downy, soft, benevolently
fuzzy and confused. He really
pitied George with all his heart, and had a sort of dim and cloudy perception of
the style of feeling that agitated him; but he deemed it his duty to go on
talking _good_ to him, with infinite pertinacity.
"George, this is bad.
I must tell you, you know, as a friend, you'd better not be meddling with
such notions; they are bad, George, very bad, for boys in your
condition,--very;" and Mr. Wilson sat down to a table, and began nervously
chewing the handle of his umbrella.
"See here, now, Mr. Wilson,"
said George, coming up and sitting himself determinately down in front of him;
"look at me, now. Don't I sit
before you, every way, just as much a man as you are? Look at my face,--look at my hands,--look at my body,"
and the young man drew himself up proudly; "why am I _not_ a man, as much
as anybody? Well, Mr. Wilson, hear
what I can tell you. I had a
father--one of your Kentucky gentlemen--who didn't think enough of me to keep me
from being sold with his dogs and horses, to satisfy the estate, when he died.
I saw my mother put up at sheriff's sale, with her seven children.
They were sold before her eyes, one by one, all to different masters; and
I was the youngest. She came and
kneeled down before old Mas'r, and begged him to buy her with me, that she might
have at least one child with her; and he kicked her away with his heavy boot.
I saw him do it; and the last that I heard was her moans and screams,
when I was tied to his horse's neck, to be carried off to his place."
"My master traded with one of the
men, and bought my oldest sister. She
was a pious, good girl,--a member of the Baptist church,--and as handsome as my
poor mother had been. She was well
brought up, and had good manners. At
first, I was glad she was bought, for I had one friend near me.
I was soon sorry for it. Sir,
I have stood at the door and heard her whipped, when it seemed as if every blow
cut into my naked heart, and I couldn't do anything to help her; and she was
whipped, sir, for wanting to live a decent Christian life, such as your laws
give no slave girl a right to live; and at last I saw her chained with a
trader's gang, to be sent to market in Orleans,--sent there for nothing else but
that,--and that's the last I know of her. Well,
I grew up,--long years and years,--no father, no mother, no sister, not a living
soul that cared for me more than a dog; nothing but whipping, scolding,
starving. Why, sir, I've been so
hungry that I have been glad to take the bones they threw to their dogs; and
yet, when I was a little fellow, and laid awake whole nights and cried, it
wasn't the hunger, it wasn't the whipping, I cried for.
No, sir, it was for _my mother_ and _my sisters_,--it was because I
hadn't a friend to love me on earth. I
never knew what peace or comfort was. I
never had a kind word spoken to me till I came to work in your factory.
Mr. Wilson, you treated me well; you encouraged me to do well, and to
learn to read and write, and to try to make something of myself; and God knows
how grateful I am for it. Then,
sir, I found my wife; you've seen her,--you know how beautiful she is.
When I found she loved me, when I married her, I scarcely could believe I
was alive, I was so happy; and, sir, she is as good as she is beautiful.
But now what? Why, now comes my master, takes me right away from my work,
and my friends, and all I like, and grinds me down into the very dirt!
And why? Because, he says, I
forgot who I was; he says, to teach me that I am only a nigger!
After all, and last of all, he comes between me and my wife, and says I
shall give her up, and live with another woman.
And all this your laws give him power to do, in spite of God or man. Mr. Wilson, look at it!
There isn't _one_ of all these things, that have broken the hearts of my
mother and my sister, and my wife and myself, but your laws allow, and give
every man power to do, in Kentucky, and none can say to him nay!
Do you call these the laws of _my_ country?
Sir, I haven't any country, anymore than I have any father.
But I'm going to have one. I
don't want anything of _your_ country, except to be let alone,--to go peaceably
out of it; and when I get to Canada, where the laws will own me and protect me,
_that_ shall be my country, and its laws I will obey.
But if any man tries to stop me, let him take care, for I am desperate.
I'll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe.
You say your fathers did it; if it was right for them, it is right for
This speech, delivered partly while
sitting at the table, and partly walking up and down the room,--delivered with
tears, and flashing eyes, and despairing gestures,--was altogether too much for
the good-natured old body to whom it was addressed, who had pulled out a great
yellow silk pocket-handkerchief, and was mopping up his face with great energy.
"Blast 'em all!" he suddenly
broke out. "Haven't I always
said so--the infernal old cusses! I
hope I an't swearing, now. Well! go
ahead, George, go ahead; but be careful, my boy; don't shoot anybody, George,
unless--well--you'd _better_ not shoot, I reckon; at least, I wouldn't _hit_
anybody, you know. Where is your
wife, George?" he added, as he nervously rose, and began walking the room.
"Gone, sir gone, with her child in
her arms, the Lord only knows where;--gone after the north star; and when we
ever meet, or whether we meet at all in this world, no creature can tell."
"Is it possible! astonishing! from
such a kind family?"
"Kind families get in debt, and the
laws of _our_ country allow them to sell the child out of its mother's bosom to
pay its master's debts," said George, bitterly.
"Well, well," said the honest
old man, fumbling in his pocket: "I
s'pose, perhaps, I an't following my judgment,--hang it, I _won't_ follow my
judgment!" he added, suddenly; "so here, George," and, taking out
a roll of bills from his pocket-book, he offered them to George.
"No, my kind, good sir!" said
George, "you've done a great deal for me, and this might get you into
trouble. I have money enough, I
hope, to take me as far as I need it."
"No; but you must, George.
Money is a great help everywhere;-- can't have too much, if you get it
honestly. Take it,-- _do_ take it,
_now_,--do, my boy!"
"On condition, sir, that I may
repay it at some future time, I will," said George, taking up the money.
"And now, George, how long are you
going to travel in this way?--not long or far, I hope.
It's well carried on, but too bold.
And this black fellow,--who is he?"
"A true fellow, who went to Canada
more than a year ago. He heard,
after he got there, that his master was so angry at him for going off that he
had whipped his poor old mother; and he has come all the way back to comfort
her, and get a chance to get her away."
"Has he got her?"
"Not yet; he has been hanging about
the place, and found no chance yet. Meanwhile,
he is going with me as far as Ohio, to put me among friends that helped him, and
then he will come back after her.
"Dangerous, very dangerous!"
said the old man.
George drew himself up, and smiled
The old gentleman eyed him from head to
foot, with a sort of innocent wonder.
"George, something has brought you
out wonderfully. You hold up your
head, and speak and move like another man," said Mr. Wilson.
"Because I'm a _freeman_!"
said George, proudly. "Yes,
sir; I've said Mas'r for the last time to any man.
"Take care! You are not sure,--you may be taken."
"All men are free and equal _in the
grave_, if it comes to that, Mr. Wilson," said George.
"I'm perfectly dumb-founded with
your boldness!" said Mr. Wilson,--"to
come right here to the nearest tavern!"
"Mr. Wilson, it is _so_ bold, and
this tavern is so near, that they will never think of it; they will look for me
on ahead, and you yourself wouldn't know me.
Jim's master don't live in this county; he isn't known in these parts.
Besides, he is given up; nobody is looking after him, and nobody will
take me up from the advertisement, I think."
"But the mark in your hand?"
George drew off his glove, and showed a
newly-healed scar in his hand.
"That is a parting proof of Mr.
Harris' regard," he said, scornfully.
"A fortnight ago, he took it into his head to give it to me, because
he said he believed I should try to get away one of these days.
Looks interesting, doesn't it?" he said, drawing his glove on again.
"I declare, my very blood runs cold
when I think of it,--your condition and your risks!" said Mr. Wilson.
"Mine has run cold a good many
years, Mr. Wilson; at present, it's about up to the boiling point," said
"Well, my good sir," continued
George, after a few moments' silence, "I saw you knew me; I thought I'd
just have this talk with you, lest your surprised looks should bring me out.
I leave early tomorrow morning, before daylight; by tomorrow night I hope
to sleep safe in Ohio. I shall
travel by daylight, stop at the best hotels, go to the dinner-tables with the
lords of the land. So, good-by,
sir; if you hear that I'm taken, you may know that I'm dead!"
George stood up like a rock, and put out
his hand with the air of a prince. The
friendly little old man shook it heartily, and after a little shower of caution,
he took his umbrella, and fumbled his way out of the room.
George stood thoughtfully looking at the
door, as the old man closed it. A
thought seemed to flash across his mind. He
hastily stepped to it, and opening it, said,
"Mr. Wilson, one word more."
The old gentleman entered again, and
George, as before, locked the door, and then stood for a few moments looking on
the floor, irresolutely. At last,
raising his head with a sudden effort--"Mr. Wilson, you have shown yourself
a Christian in your treatment of me,--I want to ask one last deed of Christian
kindness of you."
"Well, sir,--what you said was
true. I _am_ running a dreadful
risk. There isn't, on earth, a
living soul to care if I die," he added, drawing his breath hard, and
speaking with a great effort,--"I shall be kicked out and buried like a
dog, and nobody'll think of it a day after,--_only my poor wife!_
Poor soul! she'll mourn and grieve; and if you'd only contrive, Mr.
Wilson, to send this little pin to her. She
gave it to me for a Christmas present, poor child!
Give it to her, and tell her I loved her to the last.
Will you? _Will_ you?"
he added, earnestly.
"Yes, certainly--poor fellow!"
said the old gentleman, taking the pin, with watery eyes, and a melancholy
quiver in his voice.
"Tell her one thing," said
George; "it's my last wish, if she _can_ get to Canada, to go there.
No matter how kind her mistress is,--no matter how much she loves her
home; beg her not to go back,--for slavery always ends in misery.
Tell her to bring up our boy a free man, and then he won't suffer as I
have. Tell her this, Mr. Wilson,
I'll tell her; but I trust you won't die; take heart,--you're a brave
fellow. Trust in the Lord, George.
I wish in my heart you were safe through, though,--that's what I
"_Is_ there a God to trust
in?" said George, in such a tone of bitter despair as arrested the old
gentleman's words. "O, I've
seen things all my life that have made me feel that there can't be a God.
You Christians don't know how these things look to us.
There's a God for you, but is there any for us?"
"O, now, don't--don't, my
boy!" said the old man, almost sobbing as he spoke; "don't feel so!
There is--there is; clouds and darkness are around about him, but
righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne.
There's a _God_, George,--believe it; trust in Him, and I'm sure He'll
help you. Everything will be set
right,--if not in this life, in another."
The real piety and benevolence of the
simple old man invested him with a temporary dignity and authority, as he spoke.
George stopped his distracted walk up and down the room, stood
thoughtfully a moment, and then said, quietly,
"Thank you for saying that, my good
friend; I'll _think of that_."