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 their understandings.
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 Kentucky tavern.
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
"I say, stranger, how are ye?" said the aforesaid gentleman,
firing an honorary salute of tobacco-juice in the direction of the
"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 pocket.
"Not that I know of," said the man.
"Chaw?" said the first speaker, handing the old gentleman
a bit of his tobacco, with a decidedly brotherly air.
"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 handbill.
"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."
The 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 while."
"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, dryly.
"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
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 we?"
"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
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,
"Ye--yes--yes, sir," said Mr. Wilson, like one speaking in
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 man.
"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 all."
"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 follows:
"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 George, calmly.
"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;[Gen. 16. The angel bade the pregnant Hagar return to
her mistress Sarai, even though Sarai had dealt harshly with her.] and the
apostle sent back Onesimus to his master."[Phil. 1:10. Onesimus went back to his master to become
no longer a servant but a "brother beloved."]
"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 lips.
"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 way.
"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
"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 Kentucky!"
"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 me!"
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
"Dangerous, very dangerous!" said the old man.
George drew himself up, and smiled disdainfully.
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. I'm free!"
"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 George.
"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
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, will you?"
"Yes, George. 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 do."
"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."