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Title: Fifty Years in Chains - Or, the Life of an American Slave
Author: Ball, Charles
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's Note: Every effort has been made to replicate this text
as faithfully as possible, including obsolete and variant spellings and
other inconsistencies. Text that has been changed to correct an obvious
error is noted at the end of this ebook.]



  FIFTY YEARS IN CHAINS;

  OR,

  THE LIFE OF AN
  AMERICAN SLAVE.


      "My God! can such things be?
  Hast Thou not said that whatsoe'er is done
  Unto thy weakest and thy humblest one,
      Is even done to Thee?"--WHITTIER.


  New-York
  H. DAYTON, PUBLISHER
  36 HOWARD STREET.
  Indianapolis, Ind.:--Asher & Company.
  1860.


  Entered according to Act of Congress in the year 1858, by
                         H. DAYTON,
  in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States
             for the Southern District of New York.


  J. J. REED,
  PRINTER & STEREOTYPER,
  43 Centre-St., N. Y.



PREFACE.


The story which follows is _true_ in every particular. Responsible
citizens of a neighboring State can vouch for the reality of the
narrative. The language of the slave has not at all times been strictly
adhered to, as a half century of bondage unfitted him for literary work.
The subject of the story _is still a slave_ by the laws of this country,
and it would not be wise to reveal his name.



FIFTY YEARS IN CHAINS

OR,

THE LIFE OF AN AMERICAN SLAVE.



CHAPTER I.

SEPARATED FROM MY MOTHER.


My story is a true one, and I shall tell it in a simple style. It will
be merely a recital of my life as a slave in the Southern States of the
Union--a description of negro slavery in the "model Republic."

My grandfather was brought from Africa and sold as a slave in Calvert
county, in Maryland. I never understood the name of the ship in which he
was imported, nor the name of the planter who bought him on his arrival,
but at the time I knew him he was a slave in a family called Maud, who
resided near Leonardtown. My father was a slave in a family named Hauty,
living near the same place. My mother was the slave of a tobacco
planter, who died when I was about four years old. My mother had
several children, and they were sold upon master's death to separate
purchasers. She was sold, my father told me, to a Georgia trader. I, of
all her children, was the only one left in Maryland. When sold I was
naked, never having had on clothes in my life, but my new master gave me
a child's frock, belonging to one of his own children. After he had
purchased me, he dressed me in this garment, took me before him on his
horse, and started home; but my poor mother, when she saw me leaving her
for the last time, ran after me, took me down from the horse, clasped me
in her arms, and wept loudly and bitterly over me. My master seemed to
pity her, and endeavored to soothe her distress by telling her that he
would be a good master to me, and that I should not want anything. She
then, still holding me in her arms, walked along the road beside the
horse as he moved slowly, and earnestly and imploringly besought my
master to buy her and the rest of her children, and not permit them to
be carried away by the negro buyers; but whilst thus entreating him to
save her and her family, the slave-driver, who had first bought her,
came running in pursuit of her with a raw-hide in his hand. When he
overtook us, he told her he was her master now, and ordered her to give
that little negro to its owner, and come back with him.

My mother then turned to him and cried, "Oh, master, do not take me from
my child!" Without making any reply, he gave her two or three heavy
blows on the shoulders with his raw-hide, snatched me from her arms,
handed me to my master, and seizing her by one arm, dragged her back
towards the place of sale. My master then quickened the pace of his
horse; and as we advanced, the cries of my poor parent became more and
more indistinct--at length they died away in the distance, and I never
again heard the voice of my poor mother. Young as I was, the horrors of
that day sank deeply into my heart, and even at this time, though half a
century has elapsed, the terrors of the scene return with painful
vividness upon my memory. Frightened at the sight of the cruelties
inflicted upon my poor mother, I forgot my own sorrows at parting from
her and clung to my new master, as an angel and a saviour, when compared
with the hardened fiend into whose power she had fallen. She had been a
kind and good mother to me; had warmed me in her bosom in the cold
nights of winter; and had often divided the scanty pittance of food
allowed her by her mistress, between my brothers, and sisters, and me,
and gone supperless to bed herself. Whatever victuals she could obtain
beyond the coarse food, salt fish and corn bread, allowed to slaves on
the Patuxent and Potomac rivers, she carefully distributed among her
children, and treated us with all the tenderness which her own miserable
condition would permit. I have no doubt that she was chained and driven
to Carolina, and toiled out the residue of a forlorn and famished
existence in the rice swamps, or indigo fields of the South.

My father never recovered from the effects of the shock, which this
sudden and overwhelming ruin of his family gave him. He had formerly
been of a gay, social temper, and when he came to see us on a Saturday
night, he always brought us some little present, such as the means of a
poor slave would allow--apples, melons, sweet potatoes, or, if he could
procure nothing else, a little parched corn, which tasted better in our
cabin, because he had brought it.

He spent the greater part of the time, which his master permitted him to
pass with us, in relating such stories as he had learned from his
companions, or in singing the rude songs common amongst the slaves of
Maryland and Virginia. After this time I never heard him laugh heartily,
or sing a song. He became gloomy and morose in his temper, to all but
me; and spent nearly all his leisure time with my grandfather, who
claimed kindred with some royal family in Africa, and had been a great
warrior in his native country. The master of my father was a hard,
penurious man, and so exceedingly avaricious, that he scarcely allowed
himself the common conveniences of life. A stranger to sensibility, he
was incapable of tracing the change in the temper and deportment of my
father, to its true cause; but attributed it to a sullen discontent with
his condition as a slave, and a desire to abandon his service, and seek
his liberty by escaping to some of the free States. To prevent the
perpetration of this suspected crime of _running away from slavery_, the
old man resolved to sell my father to a southern slave-dealer, and
accordingly applied to one of those men, who was at that time in
Calvert, to become the purchaser. The price was agreed on, but, as my
father was a very strong, active, and resolute man, it was deemed unsafe
for the Georgian to attempt to seize him, even with the aid of others,
in the day-time, when he was at work, as it was known he carried upon
his person a large knife. It was therefore determined to secure him by
stratagem, and for this purpose, a farmer in the neighborhood, who was
made privy to the plan, alleged that he had lost a pig, which must have
been stolen by some one, and that he suspected my father to be the
thief. A constable was employed to arrest him, but as he was afraid to
undertake the business alone, he called on his way, at the house of the
master of my grandfather, to procure assistance from the overseer of the
plantation. When he arrived at the house, the overseer was at the barn,
and thither he repaired to make his application. At the end of the barn
was the coach-house, and as the day was cool, to avoid the wind which
was high, the two walked to the side of the coach-house to talk over the
matter, and settle their plan of operations. It so happened that my
grandfather, whose business it was to keep the coach in good condition,
was at work at this time, rubbing the plated handles of the doors, and
brightening the other metallic parts of the vehicle. Hearing the voice
of the overseer without, he suspended his work, and listening
attentively, became a party to their councils. They agreed that they
would delay the execution of their project until the next day, as it was
then late. They supposed they would have no difficulty in apprehending
their intended victim, as, knowing himself innocent of the theft, he
would readily consent to go with the constable to a justice of the
peace, to have the charge examined. That night, however, about midnight,
my grandfather silently repaired to the cabin of my father, a distance
of about three miles, aroused him from his sleep, made him acquainted
with the extent of his danger, gave him a bottle of cider and a small
bag of parched corn, and then enjoined him to fly from the destination
which awaited him. In the morning the Georgian could not find his newly
purchased slave, who was never seen or heard of in Maryland from that
day.

After the flight of my father, my grandfather was the only person left
in Maryland with whom I could claim kindred. He was an old man, nearly
eighty years old, he said, and he manifested all the fondness for me
that I could expect from one so old. He was feeble, and his master
required but little work from him. He always expressed contempt for his
fellow-slaves, for when young, he was an African of rank in his native
land. He had a small cabin of his own, with half an acre of ground
attached to it, which he cultivated on his own account, and from which
he drew a large share of his sustenance. He had singular religious
notions--never going to meeting or caring for the preachers he could, if
he would, occasionally hear. He retained his native traditions
respecting the Deity and hereafter. It is not strange that he believed
the religion of his oppressors to be the invention of designing men, for
the text oftenest quoted in his hearing was, "Servants, be obedient to
your masters."

The name of the man who purchased me at the vendue, and became my
master, was John Cox; but he was generally called Jack Cox. He was a man
of kindly feelings towards his family, and treated his slaves, of whom
he had several besides me, with humanity. He permitted my grandfather to
visit me as often as he pleased, and allowed him sometimes to carry me
to his own cabin, which stood in a lonely place, at the head of a deep
hollow, almost surrounded by a thicket of cedar trees, which had grown
up in a worn out and abandoned tobacco field. My master gave me better
clothes than the little slaves of my age generally received in Calvert,
and often told me that he intended to make me his waiter, and that if I
behaved well I should become his overseer in time. These stations of
waiter and overseer appeared to me to be the highest points of honor and
greatness in the whole world, and had not circumstances frustrated my
master's plans, as well as my own views, I should probably have been
living at this time in a cabin on the corner of some tobacco plantation.

Fortune had decreed otherwise. When I was about twelve years old, my
master, Jack Cox, died of a disease which had long confined him to the
house. I was sorry for the death of my master, who had always been kind
to me; and I soon discovered that I had good cause to regret his
departure from this world. He had several children at the time of his
death, who were all young; the oldest being about my own age. The father
of my late master, who was still living, became administrator of his
estate, and took possession of his property, and amongst the rest, of
myself. This old gentleman treated me with the greatest severity, and
compelled me to work very hard on his plantation for several years,
until I suppose I must have been near or quite twenty years of age. As
I was always very obedient, and ready to execute all his orders, I did
not receive much whipping, but suffered greatly for want of sufficient
and proper food. My master allowed his slaves a peck of corn, each, per
week, throughout the year; and this we had to grind into meal in a
hand-mill for ourselves. We had a tolerable supply of meat for a short
time, about the month of December, when he killed his hogs. After that
season we had meat once a week, unless bacon became scarce, which very
often happened, in which case we had no meat at all. However, as we
fortunately lived near both the Patuxent river and the Chesapeake Bay,
we had abundance of fish in the spring, and as long as the fishing
season continued. After that period, each slave received, in addition to
his allowance of corn, one salt herring every day.

My master gave me one pair of shoes, one pair of stockings, one hat, one
jacket of coarse cloth, two coarse shirts, and two pair of trowsers,
yearly. He allowed me no other clothes. In the winter time I often
suffered very much from the cold; as I had to drive the team of oxen
which hauled the tobacco to market, and frequently did not get home
until late at night, the distance being considerable, and my cattle
traveled very slow.

One Saturday evening, when I came home from the corn field, my master
told me that he had hired me out for a year at the city of Washington,
and that I would have to live at the Navy Yard.

On the New Year's day following, which happened about two weeks
afterwards, my master set forward for Washington, on horseback, and
ordered me to accompany him on foot. It was night when we arrived at the
Navy Yard, and everything appeared very strange to me.

I was told by a gentleman who had epaulets on his shoulders, that I must
go on board a large ship, which lay in the river. He at the same time
told a boy to show me the way. This ship proved to be a frigate, and I
was told that I had been brought there to cook for the people belonging
to her. In the course of a few days the duties of my station became
quite familiar to me; and in the enjoyment of a profusion of excellent
provisions, I felt very happy. I strove by all means to please the
officers and gentlemen who came on board, and in this I soon found my
account. One gave me a half-worn coat, another an old shirt, and a
third, a cast off waistcoat and pantaloons. Some presented me with small
sums of money, and in this way I soon found myself well clothed, and
with more than a dollar in my pocket. My duties, though constant, were
not burthensome, and I was permitted to spend Sunday afternoon in my own
way. I generally went up into the city to see the new and splendid
buildings; often walked as far as Georgetown, and made many new
acquaintances among the slaves, and frequently saw large numbers of
people of my color chained together in long trains, and driven off
towards the South. At that time the slave-trade was not regarded with so
much indignation and disgust, as it is now. It was a rare thing to hear
of a person of color running away, and escaping altogether from his
master: my father being the only one within my knowledge, who had,
before this time, obtained his liberty in this manner, in Calvert
county; and, as before stated, I never heard what became of him after
his flight.

I remained on board the frigate, and about the Navy Yard, two years, and
was quite satisfied with my lot, until about three months before the
expiration of this period, when it so happened that a schooner, loaded
with iron and other materials for the use of the yard, arrived from
Philadelphia. She came and lay close by the frigate, to discharge her
cargo, and amongst her crew I observed a black man, with whom, in the
course of a day or two, I became acquainted. He told me he was free, and
lived in Philadelphia, where he kept a house of entertainment for
sailors, which, he said, was attended to in his absence by his wife.

His description of Philadelphia, and of the liberty enjoyed there by
the black people, so charmed my imagination that I determined to devise
some plan of escaping from the frigate, and making my way to the North.
I communicated my designs to my new friend, who promised to give me his
aid. We agreed that the night before the schooner should sail, I was to
be concealed in the hold, amongst a parcel of loose tobacco, which, he
said, the captain had undertaken to carry to Philadelphia. The sailing
of the schooner was delayed longer than we expected; and, finally, her
captain purchased a cargo of flour in Georgetown, and sailed for the
West Indies. Whilst I was anxiously awaiting some other opportunity of
making my way to Philadelphia, (the idea of crossing the country to the
western part of Pennsylvania, never entered my mind,) New Year's day
came, and with it came my old master from Calvert, accompanied by a
gentleman named Gibson, to whom, he said, he had sold me, and to whom he
delivered me over in the Navy Yard. We all three set out that same
evening for Calvert, and reached the residence of my new master the next
day. Here, I was informed, that I had become the subject of a law-suit.
My new master claimed me under his purchase from old Mr. Cox; and
another gentleman of the neighborhood, named Levin Ballard, had bought
me of the children of my former master, Jack Cox. This suit continued in
the courts of Calvert county more than two years; but was finally
decided in favor of him who had bought me of the children.

I went home with my master, Mr. Gibson, who was a farmer, and with whom
I lived three years. Soon after I came to live with Mr. Gibson, I
married a girl of color named Judah, the slave of a gentleman by the
name of Symmes, who resided in the same neighborhood. I was at the house
of Mr. Symmes every week; and became as well acquainted with him and his
family, as I was with my master.

Mr. Symmes also married a wife about the time I did. The lady whom he
married lived near Philadelphia, and when she first came to Maryland,
she refused to be served by a black chambermaid, but employed a white
girl, the daughter of a poor man, who lived near. The lady was reported
to be very wealthy, and brought a large trunk full of plate and other
valuable articles. This trunk was so heavy that I could scarcely carry
it, and it impressed my mind with the idea of great riches in the owner,
at that time. After some time Mrs. Symmes dismissed her white
chambermaid and placed my wife in that situation, which I regarded as a
fortunate circumstance, as it insured her good food, and at least one
good suit of clothes.

The Symmes' family was one of the most ancient in Maryland, and had
been a long time resident in Calvert county. The grounds had been laid
out, and all the improvements projected about the family abode, in a
style of much magnificence, according to the custom of the old
aristocracy of Maryland and Virginia.

Appendant to the domicile, and at no great distance from the house, was
a family vault, built of brick, in which reposed the occupants of the
estate, who had lived there for many previous generations. This vault
had not been opened or entered for fifteen years previous to the time of
which I speak; but it so happened, that at this period, a young man, a
distant relation of the family, died, having requested on his death-bed,
that he might be buried in this family resting place. When I came on
Saturday evening to see my wife and child, Mr. Symmes desired me, as I
was older than any of his black men, to take an iron pick and go and
open the vault, which I accordingly did, by cutting away the mortar, and
removing a few bricks from one side of the building; but I could not
remove more than three or four bricks before I was obliged, by the
horrid effluvia which issued at the aperture, to retire. It was the most
deadly and sickening scent that I have ever smelled, and I could not
return to complete the work until after the sun had risen the next day,
when I pulled down so much of one of the side walls, as to permit
persons to walk in upright. I then went in alone, and examined this
house of the dead, and surely no picture could more strongly and vividly
depict the emptiness of all earthly vanity, and the nothingness of human
pride. Dispersed over the floor lay the fragments of more than twenty
human skeletons, each in the place where it had been deposited by the
idle tenderness of surviving friends. In some cases nothing remained but
the hair and the larger bones, whilst in several the form of the coffin
was yet visible, with all the bones resting in their proper places. One
coffin, the sides of which were yet standing, the lid only having
decayed and partly fallen in, so as to disclose the contents of this
narrow cell, presented a peculiarly moving spectacle. Upon the centre of
the lid was a large silver plate, and the head and foot were adorned
with silver stars.--The nails which had united the parts of the coffin
had also silver heads. Within lay the skeletons of a mother and her
infant child, in slumbers only to be broken by the peal of the last
trumpet. The bones of the infant lay upon the breast of the mother,
where the hands of affection had shrouded them. The ribs of the parent
had fallen down, and rested on the back bone. Many gold rings were about
the bones of the fingers. Brilliant ear-rings lay beneath where the ears
had been; and a glittering gold chain encircled the ghastly and haggard
vertebræ of a once beautiful neck The shroud and flesh had disappeared,
but the hair of the mother appeared strong and fresh. Even the silken
locks of the infant were still preserved. Behold the end of youth and
beauty, and of all that is lovely in life! The coffin was so much
decayed that it could not be removed. A thick and dismal vapor hung
embodied from the roof and walls of this charnel house, in appearance
somewhat like a mass of dark cobwebs; but which was impalpable to the
touch, and when stirred by the hand vanished away. On the second day we
deposited with his kindred, the corpse of the young man, and at night I
again carefully closed up the breach which I had made in the walls of
this dwelling-place of the dead.



CHAPTER II


Some short time after my wife became chambermaid to her mistress, it was
my misfortune to change masters once more. Levin Ballard, who, as before
stated, had purchased me of the children of my former master, Jack Cox,
was successful in his law suit with Mr. Gibson, the object of which was
to determine the right of property in me; and one day, whilst I was at
work in the corn-field, Mr. Ballard came and told me I was his property;
asking me at the same time if I was willing to go with him. I told him I
was not willing to go; but that if I belonged to him I knew I must. We
then went to the house, and Mr. Gibson not being at home, Mrs. Gibson
told me I must go with Mr. Ballard.

I accordingly went with him, determining to serve him obediently and
faithfully. I remained in his service almost three years, and as he
lived near the residence of my wife's master, my former mode of life was
not materially changed, by this change of home.

Mrs. Symmes spent much of her time in exchanging visits with the
families of the other large planters, both in Calvert and the
neighboring counties; and through my wife, I became acquainted with the
private family history of many of the principal persons in Maryland.

There was a great proprietor, who resided in another county, who owned
several hundred slaves; and who permitted them to beg of travelers on
the high-way. This same gentleman had several daughters, and according
to the custom of the time, kept what they called open house: that is,
his house was free to all persons of genteel appearance, who chose to
visit it. The young ladies were supposed to be the greatest fortunes in
the country, were reputed beautiful, and consequently were greatly
admired.

Two gentlemen, who were lovers of these girls, desirous of amusing their
mistresses, invited a young man, whose standing in society they supposed
to be beneath theirs, to go with them to the manor, as it was called.
When there, they endeavored to make him an object of ridicule, in
presence of the ladies; but he so well acquitted himself, and manifested
such superior wit and talents, that one of the young ladies fell in love
with him, and soon after wrote him a letter, which led to their
marriage. His two pretended friends were never afterwards countenanced
by the family, as gentlemen of honor; but the fortunate husband avenged
himself of his heartless companions, by inviting them to his wedding,
and exposing them to the observation of the vast assemblage of
fashionable people, who always attended a marriage, in the family of a
great planter.

The two gentlemen, who had been thus made to fall into the pit that they
had dug for another, were so much chagrined at the issue of the
adventure, that one soon left Maryland; and the other became a common
drunkard, and died a few years afterwards.

My change of masters realized all the evil apprehensions which I had
entertained. I found Mr. Ballard sullen and crabbed in his temper, and
always prone to find fault with my conduct--no matter how hard I had
labored, or how careful I was to fulfil all his orders, and obey his
most unreasonable commands. Yet, it so happened, that he never beat me,
for which, I was altogether indebted to the good character, for
industry, sobriety and humility, which I had established in the
neighborhood. I think he was ashamed to abuse me, lest he should suffer
in the good opinion of the public; for he often fell into the most
violent fits of anger against me, and overwhelmed me with coarse and
abusive language. He did not give me clothes enough to keep me warm in
winter, and compelled me to work in the woods, when there was deep snow
on the ground, by which I suffered very much. I had determined at last
to speak to him to sell me to some person in the neighborhood, so that I
might still be near my wife and children--but a different fate awaited
me.

My master kept a store at a small village on the bank of the Patuxent
river, called B----, although he resided at some distance on a farm. One
morning he rose early, and ordered me to take a yoke of oxen and go to
the village, to bring home a cart which was there, saying he would
follow me. He arrived at the village soon after I did, and took his
breakfast with his store-keeper. He then told me to come into the house
and get my breakfast. Whilst I was eating in the kitchen, I observed him
talking earnestly, but low, to a stranger near the kitchen door. I soon
after went out, and hitched my oxen to the cart, and was about to drive
off, when several men came round about me, and amongst them the stranger
whom I had seen speaking with my master. This man came up to me, and,
seizing me by the collar, shook me violently, saying I was his property,
and must go with him to Georgia. At the sound of these words, the
thoughts of my wife and children rushed across my mind, and my heart
beat away within me. I saw and knew that my case was hopeless, and that
resistance was vain, as there were near twenty persons present, all of
whom were ready to assist the man by whom I was kidnapped. I felt
incapable of weeping or speaking, and in my despair I laughed loudly. My
purchaser ordered me to cross my hands behind, which were quickly bound
with a strong cord; and he then told me that we must set out that very
day for the South. I asked if I could not be allowed to go to see my
wife and children, or if this could not be permitted, if they might not
have leave to come to see me; but was told that I would be able to get
another wife in Georgia.

My new master, whose name I did not hear, took me that same day across
the Patuxent, where I joined fifty-one other slaves, whom he had bought
in Maryland. Thirty-two of these were men, and nineteen were women. The
women were merely tied together with a rope, about the size of a
bed-cord, which was tied like a halter round the neck of each; but the
men, of whom I was the stoutest and strongest, were very differently
caparisoned. A strong iron collar was closely fitted by means of a
padlock round each of our necks. A chain of iron, about a hundred feet
in length, was passed through the hasp of each padlock, except at the
two ends, where the hasps of the padlock passed through a link of the
chain. In addition to this, we were handcuffed in pairs, with iron
staples and bolts, with a short chain, about a foot long, uniting the
handcuffs and their wearers in pairs. In this manner we were chained
alternately by the right and left hand; and the poor man to whom I was
thus ironed, wept like an infant when the blacksmith, with his heavy
hammer, fastened the ends of the bolts that kept the staples from
slipping from our arms. For my own part, I felt indifferent to my fate.
It appeared to me that the worst had come that could come, and that no
change of fortune could harm me.

After we were all chained and handcuffed together, we sat down upon the
ground; and here reflecting upon the sad reverse of fortune that had so
suddenly overtaken me, I became weary of life, and bitterly execrated
the day I was born. It seemed that I was destined by fate to drink the
cup of sorrow to the very dregs, and that I should find no respite from
misery but in the grave. I longed to die, and escape from the hands of
my tormentors; but even the wretched privilege of destroying myself was
denied me, for I could not shake off my chains, nor move a yard without
the consent of my master. Reflecting in silence upon my forlorn
condition, I at length concluded that as things could not become
worse--and as the life of man is but a continued round of changes, they
must, of necessity, take a turn in my favor at some future day. I found
relief in this vague and indefinite hope, and when we received orders to
go on board the scow, which was to transport us over the Patuxent, I
marched down to the water with a firmness of purpose of which I did not
believe myself capable, a few minutes before.

We were soon on the south side of the river, and taking up our line of
march, we traveled about five miles that evening, and stopped for the
night at one of those miserable public houses, so frequent in the lower
parts of Maryland and Virginia, called "_ordinaries_."

Our master ordered a pot of mush to be made for our supper; after
despatching which we all lay down on the naked floor to sleep in our
handcuffs and chains. The women, my fellow-slaves, lay on one side of
the room; and the men who were chained with me, occupied the other. I
slept but little this night, which I passed in thinking of my wife and
little children, whom I could not hope ever to see again. I also thought
of my grandfather, and of the long nights I had passed with him,
listening to his narratives of the scenes through which he had passed in
Africa. I at length fell asleep, but was distressed by painful dreams.
My wife and children appeared to be weeping and lamenting my calamity;
and beseeching and imploring my master on their knees, not to carry me
away from them. My little boy came and begged me not to go and leave
him, and endeavored, as I thought, with his little hands to break the
fetters that bound me. I awoke in agony and cursed my existence. I could
not pray, for the measure of my woes seemed to be full, and I felt as if
there was no mercy in heaven, nor compassion on earth, for a man who was
born a slave. Day at length came, and with the dawn, we resumed our
journey towards the Potomac. As we passed along the road, I saw the
slaves at work in the corn and tobacco fields. I knew they toiled hard
and lacked food; but they were not, like me, dragged in chains from
their wives, children and friends. Compared with me, they were the
happiest of mortals. I almost envied them their blessed lot.

Before night we crossed the Potomac, at Hoe's Ferry, and bade farewell
to Maryland. At night we stopped at the house of a poor gentleman, at
least he appeared to wish my master to consider him a gentleman; and he
had no difficulty in establishing his claim to poverty. He lived at the
side, of the road, in a framed house, which had never been plastered
within--the weather-boards being the only wall. He had about fifty acres
of land enclosed by a fence, the remains of a farm which had once
covered two or three hundred acres; but the cedar bushes had encroached
upon all sides, until the cultivation had been confined to its present
limits. The land was the picture of sterility, and there was neither
barn nor stable on the place. The owner was ragged, and his wife and
children were in a similar plight. It was with difficulty that we
obtained a bushel of corn, which our master ordered us to parch at a
fire made in the yard, and to eat for our supper. Even this miserable
family possessed two slaves, half-starved, half-naked wretches, whose
appearance bespoke them familiar with hunger, and victims of the lash;
but yet there was one pang which they had not known--they had not been
chained and driven from their parents or children, into hopeless exile.

We left this place early in the morning, and directed our course toward
the south-west; our master riding beside us, and hastening our march,
sometimes by words of encouragement, and sometimes by threats of
punishment. The women took their place in the rear of our line. We
halted about nine o'clock for breakfast, and received as much corn-bread
as we could eat, together with a plate of boiled herrings, and about
three pounds of pork amongst us. Before we left this place, I was
removed from near the middle of the chain, and placed at the front end
of it; so that I now became the leader of the file, and held this post
of honor until our irons were taken from us, near the town of Columbia
in South Carolina. We continued our route this day along the high road
between the Potomac and Rappahannock; and I saw each of those rivers
several times before night. Our master gave us no dinner to-day, but we
halted and got as much corn-mush and sour milk as we could eat for
supper. The weather grew mild and pleasant, and we needed no more fires
at night.

From this time we all slept promiscuously, men and women on the floors
of such houses as we chanced to stop at. We passed on through Bowling
Green, a quiet village.

Time did not reconcile me to my chains, but it made me familiar with
them. I reflected on my desperate situation with a degree of calmness,
hoping that I might be able to devise some means of escape. My master
placed a particular value upon me, for I heard him tell a tavern-keeper
that if he had me in Georgia he could get eight hundred dollars for me,
but he had bought me for his brother, and believed he should not sell
me; he afterwards changed his mind, however. I carefully examined every
part of our chain, but found no place where it could be separated.

We all had as much corn-bread as we could eat, procured of our owner at
the places we stopped at for the night. In addition to this we usually
had a salt herring every day. On Sunday we had a quarter of a pound of
bacon each.

We continued our course up the country westward for a few days and then
turned South, crossed James river above Richmond, as I heard at the
time. After more than four weeks of travel we entered South Carolina
near Camden, and for the first time I saw a field of cotton in bloom.

As we approached the Yadkin river the tobacco disappeared from the
fields and the cotton plant took its place as an article of general
culture.

I was now a slave in South Carolina, and had no hope of ever again
seeing my wife and children. I had at times serious thoughts of suicide
so great was my anguish. If I could have got a rope I should have hanged
myself at Lancaster. The thought of my wife and children I had been torn
from in Maryland, and the dreadful undefined future which was before me,
came near driving me mad. It was long after midnight before I fell
asleep, but the most pleasant dream, succeeded to these sorrowful
forebodings. I thought I had escaped my master, and through great
difficulties made my way back to Maryland, and was again in my wife's
cabin with my little children on my lap. Every object was so vividly
impressed on my mind in this dream, that when I awoke, a firm conviction
settled upon my mind, that by some means, at present incomprehensible to
me, I should yet again embrace my wife, and caress my children in their
humble dwelling. Early in the morning, our master called us up; and
distributed to each of the party a cake made of corn-meal and a small
piece of bacon. On our journey, we had only eaten twice a day, and had
not received breakfast until about nine o'clock; but he said this
morning meal was given to welcome us to South Carolina. He then
addressed us all, and told us we might now give up all hope of ever
returning to the places of our nativity; as it would be impossible for
us to pass through the States of North Carolina and Virginia, without
being taken up and sent back. He further advised us to make ourselves
contented, as he would take us to Georgia, a far better country than any
we had seen; and where we would be able to live in the greatest
abundance. About sunrise we took up our march on the road to Columbia,
as we were told. Hitherto our master had not offered to sell any of us,
and had even refused to stop to talk to any one on the subject of our
sale, although he had several times been addressed on this point, before
we reached Lancaster; but soon after we departed from this village, we
were overtaken on the road by a man on horseback, who accosted our
driver by asking him if his _niggars_ were for sale. The latter replied,
that he believed he would not sell any yet, as he was on his way to
Georgia, and cotton being now much in demand, he expected to obtain high
prices for us from persons who were going to settle in the new purchase.
He, however, contrary to his custom, ordered us to stop, and told the
stranger he might look at us, and that he would find us as fine a lot of
hands as were ever imported into the country--that we were all prime
property, and he had no doubt would command his own prices in Georgia.

The stranger, who was a thin, weather-beaten, sun-burned figure, then
said, he wanted a couple of breeding wenches, and would give as much for
them as they would bring in Georgia--that he had lately heard from
Augusta, and that _niggers_ were not higher there than in Columbia, and,
as he had been in Columbia the week before, he knew what _niggers_ were
worth. He then walked along our line, as we stood chained together, and
looked at the whole of us--then turning to the women, asked the prices
of the two pregnant ones. Our master replied, that these were two of the
best breeding-wenches in all Maryland--that one was twenty-two, and the
other only nineteen--that the first was already the mother of seven
children, and the other of four--that he had himself seen the children
at the time he bought their mothers--and that such wenches would be
cheap at a thousand dollars each; but as they were not able to keep up
with the gang, he would take twelve hundred dollars for the two. The
purchaser said this was too much, but that he would give nine hundred
dollars for the pair. This price was promptly refused; but our master,
after some consideration, said he was willing to sell a bargain in
these wenches, and would take eleven hundred dollars for them, which was
objected to on the other side; and many faults and failings were pointed
out in the merchandise. After much bargaining, and many gross jests on
the part of the stranger, he offered a thousand dollars for the two, and
said he would give no more. He then mounted his horse, and moved off;
but after he had gone about one hundred yards, he was called back; and
our master said, if he would go with him to the next blacksmith's shop
on the road to Columbia, and pay for taking the irons off the rest of
us, he might have the two women.

This proposal was agreed to, and as it was now about nine o'clock, we
were ordered to hasten on to the next house, where, we were told, we
must stop for breakfast. At this place we were informed that it was ten
miles to the next smith's shop, and our new acquaintance was obliged by
the terms of his contract, to accompany us thither. We received for
breakfast, about a pint of boiled rice to each person, and after this
was despatched, we again took to the road, eager to reach the
blacksmith's shop, at which we expected to be relieved of the iron rings
and chains, which had so long galled and worried us. About two o'clock
we arrived at the longed-for residence of the smith; but, on inquiry,
our master was informed that he was not at home, and would not return
before evening. Here a controversy arose, whether we should all remain
here until the smith returned, or the stranger should go on with us to
the next smithery, which was said to be only five miles distant. This
was a point not easily settled between two such spirits as our master
and the stranger; both of whom had been overseers in their time, and
both of whom had risen to the rank of proprietors of slaves.

The matter had already produced angry words, and much vaunting on the
part of the stranger;--"that a freeman of South Carolina was not to be
imposed upon; that by the constitution of the State, his rights were
sacred, and he was not to be deprived of his liberty, at the arbitrary
will of a man just from amongst the Yankees, and who had brought with
him to the South as many Yankee tricks as he had _niggers_, and he
believed many more." He then swore, that "all the _niggers_ in the drove
were Yankee _niggers_."

"When I _overseed_ for Colonel Polk," said he, "on his rice plantation,
he had two Yankee _niggers_ that he brought from Maryland, and they were
running away every day. I gave them a hundred lashes more than a dozen
times; but they never quit running away, till I chained them together,
with iron collars round their necks, and chained them to spades, and
made them do nothing but dig ditches to drain the rice swamps. They
could not run away then, unless they went together, and carried their
chains and spades with them. I kept them in this way two years, and
better _niggers_ I never had. One of them died one night, and the other
was never good for anything after he lost his mate. He never ran away
afterwards, but he died too, after a while." He then addressed himself
to the two women, whose master he had become, and told them that if ever
they ran away, he would treat them in the same way. Wretched as I was
myself, my heart bled for these poor creatures, who had fallen into the
hands of a tiger in human form. The dispute between the two masters was
still raging, when, unexpectedly, the blacksmith rode up to his house,
on a thin, bony-looking horse, and dismounting, asked his wife what
these gentlemen were making such a _frolick_ about. I did not hear her
answer, but both the disputants turned and addressed themselves to the
smith--the one to know what price he would demand to take the irons off
all these _niggers_, and the other to know how long it would take him to
perform the work. It is here proper for me to observe, that there are
many phrases of language in common use in Carolina and Georgia, which
are applied in a way that would not be understood by persons from one of
the Northern States. For instance, when several persons are quarrelling,
brawling, making a great noise, or even fighting, they say, "_the
gentlemen are frolicking!_" I heard many other terms equally strange,
whilst I resided in the southern country, amongst such white people as I
became acquainted with; though my acquaintance was confined, in a great
measure, to overseers, and such people as did not associate with the
rich planters and great families.

The smith at length agreed to take the irons from the whole of us for
two dollars and fifty cents, and immediately set about it, with the air
of indifference that he would have manifested in tearing a pair of old
shoes from the hoofs of a wagon-horse. It was four weeks and five days,
from the time my irons had been riveted upon me, until they were
removed, and great as had been my sufferings whilst chained to my
fellow-slaves, I cannot say that I felt any pleasure in being released
from my long confinement; for I knew that my liberation was only
preparatory to my final, and, as I feared, perpetual subjugation to the
power of some such monster, as the one then before me, who was preparing
to drive away the two unfortunate women whom he had purchased, and whose
life's-blood he had acquired the power of shedding at pleasure, for the
sum of a thousand dollars. After we were released from our chains, our
master sold the whole lot of irons, which we had borne from Maryland, to
the blacksmith, for seven dollars.

The smith then procured a bottle of rum, and treated his two new
acquaintances to a part of its contents--wishing them both good luck
with their _niggers_. After these civilities were over, the two women
were ordered to follow their new master, who shaped his course across
the country, by a road leading westwest. At parting from us, they both
wept aloud, and wrung their hands in despair. We all went to them, and
bade them a last farewell. Their road led into a wood, which they soon
entered, and I never saw them nor heard of them again.

These women had both been driven from Calvert county, as well as myself,
and the fate of the younger of the two, was peculiarly severe.

She had been brought up as a waiting-maid of a young lady, the daughter
of a gentleman, whose wife and family often visited the mistress of my
own wife. I had frequently seen this woman when she was a young girl, in
attendance upon her young mistress, and riding in the same carriage with
her. The father of the young lady died, and soon after she married a
gentleman who resided a few miles off. The husband received a
considerable fortune with his bride, and amongst other things, her
waiting-maid, who was reputed a great beauty among people of color. He
had been addicted to the fashionable sports of the country, before
marriage, such as horse-racing, fox-hunting, &c., and I had heard the
black people say he drank too freely; but it was supposed that he would
correct all these irregularities after marriage, more especially as his
wife was a great belle, and withal very handsome. The reverse, however,
turned out to be the fact. Instead of growing better, he became worse;
and in the course of a few years, was known all over the country, as a
drunkard and a gambler. His wife, it was said, died of grief, and soon
after her death, his effects were seized by his creditors, and sold by
the sheriff. The former waiting-maid, now the mother of several
children, was purchased by our present master, for four hundred dollars,
at the sheriff's sale, and this poor wretch, whose employment in early
life had been to take care of her young mistress, and attend to her in
her chamber, and at her toilet, after being torn from her husband and
her children, had now gone to toil out a horrible existence beneath the
scorching sun of a South Carolina cotton-field, under the dominion of a
master, as void of the manners of a gentleman, as he was of the language
of humanity.

It was now late in the afternoon; but, as we had made little progress
to-day, and were now divested of the burden of our chains, as well as
freed from the two women, who had hitherto much retarded our march, our
master ordered us to hasten on our way, as we had ten miles to go that
evening. I had been so long oppressed by the weight of my chains, and
the iron collar about my neck, that for some time after I commenced
walking at my natural liberty, I felt a kind of giddiness, or lightness
of the head. Most of my companions complained of the same sensation, and
we did not recover our proper feelings until after we had slept one
night. It was after dark when we arrived at our lodging-place, which
proved to be the house of a small cotton-planter, who, it appeared, kept
a sort of a house of entertainment for travelers, contrary to what I
afterwards discovered to be the usual custom of cotton-planters. This
man and my master had known each other before, and seemed to be well
acquainted. He was the first person that we had met since leaving
Maryland, who was known to my master, and as they kept up a very free
conversation, through the course of the evening, and the house in which
they were, was only separated from the kitchen, in which we were lodged,
by a space of a few feet, I had an opportunity of hearing much that was
highly interesting to me. The landlord, after supper, came with our
master to look at us, and to see us receive our allowance of boiled rice
from the hands of a couple of black women, who had prepared it in a
large iron kettle. Whilst viewing us, the former asked the latter, what
he intended to do with his drove; but no reply was made to this
inquiry--and as our master had, through our whole journey, maintained a
studied silence on this subject, I felt a great curiosity to know what
disposition he intended to make of the whole gang, and of myself in
particular. On their return to the house, I advanced to a small window
in the kitchen, which brought me within a few yards of the place where
they sat, and from which I was able to hear all they said, although they
spoke in a low tone of voice. I here learned, that so many of us as
could be sold for a good price, were to be disposed of in Columbia, on
our arrival at that place, and that the residue would be driven to
Augusta and sold there.

The landlord assured my master that at this time slaves were much in
demand, both in Columbia and Augusta; that purchasers were numerous and
prices good; and that the best plan of effecting good sales would be to
put up each _nigger_ separately, at auction, after giving a few days'
notice, by an advertisement, in the neighboring country. Cotton, he
said, had not been higher for many years, and as a great many persons,
especially young men, were moving off to the new purchase in Georgia,
prime hands were in high demand, for the purpose of clearing the land in
the new country--that the boys and girls, under twenty, would bring
almost any price at present, in Columbia for the purpose of picking the
growing crop of cotton, which promised to be very heavy; and as most
persons had planted more than their hands would be able to pick, young
_niggers_, who would soon learn to pick cotton, were prime articles in
the market. As to those more advanced in life, he seemed to think the
prospect of selling them at an unusual price, not so good, as they could
not so readily become expert cotton-pickers--he said further, that for
some cause, which he could not comprehend, the price of rice had not
been so good this year as usual; and that he had found it cheaper to
purchase rice to feed his own _niggers_ than to provide them with corn,
which had to be brought from the upper country. He therefore advised my
master not to drive us towards the rice plantation of the low country.
My master said he would follow his advice, at least so far as to sell a
portion of us in Carolina, but seemed to be of opinion that his prime
hands would bring him more money in Georgia, and named me, in
particular, as one who would be worth, at least, a thousand dollars, to
a man who was about making a settlement, and clearing a plantation in
the new purchase. I therefore concluded, that in the course of events, I
was likely to become the property of a Georgian, which turned out in the
end to be the case, though not so soon as I at this time apprehended. I
slept but little this night, feeling a restlessness when no longer in
chains; and pondering over the future lot of my life, which appeared
fraught only with evil and misfortune. Day at length dawned, and with
its first light we were ordered to betake ourselves to the road, which,
we were told, would lead us to Columbia, the place of intended sale of
some, if not all of us. For several days past, I had observed that in
the country through which we traveled, little attention was paid to the
cultivation of anything but cotton. Now this plant was almost the sole
possessor of the fields. It covered the plantations adjacent to the
road, as far as I could see, both before and behind me, and looked not
unlike buckwheat before it blossoms. I saw some small fields of corn,
and lots of sweet potatoes, amongst which the young vines of the
water-melon were frequently visible. The improvements on the plantations
were not good. There were no barns, but only stables and sheds, to put
the cotton under, as it was brought from the field. Hay seemed to be
unknown in the country, for I saw neither hay-stacks nor meadows; and
the few fields that were lying fallow, had but small numbers of cattle
in them, and these were thin and meagre. We had met with no flocks of
sheep of late, and the hogs that we saw on the road-side were in bad
condition. The horses and mules that I saw in the cotton-fields, were
poor and badly harnessed, and the half-naked condition of the negroes,
who drove them, or followed with the hoe, together with their wan
complexions, proved to me that they had too much work, or not enough
food. We passed a cotton-gin this morning, the first that I ever saw;
but they were not at work with it. We also met a party of ladies and
gentlemen on a journey of pleasure, riding in two very handsome
carriages, drawn by sleek and spirited horses, very different in
appearance from the moving skeletons that I had noticed drawing the
ploughs in the fields. The black drivers of the coaches were neatly clad
in gay-colored clothes, and contrasted well with their half-naked
brethren, a gang of whom were hoeing cotton by the road-side, near them,
attended by an overseer in a white linen shirt and pantaloons, with one
of the long negro whips in his hand.

I observed that these poor people did not raise their heads, to look at
either the fine coaches and horses then passing, or at us; but kept
their faces steadily bent towards the cotton-plants, from among which
they were removing the weeds. I almost shuddered at the sight, knowing
that I myself was doomed to a state of servitude equally cruel and
debasing, unless, by some unforeseen occurrence, I might fall into the
hands of a master of less inhumanity of temper than the one who had
possession of the miserable creatures before me.



CHAPTER III.


It was manifest that I was now in a country where the life of a black
man was no more regarded than that of an ox, except as far as the man
was worth the more money in the market. On all the plantations that we
passed, there was a want of live stock of every description, except
slaves, and they were deplorably abundant.

The fields were destitute of everything that deserved the name of grass,
and not a spear of clover was anywhere visible. The few cattle that
existed, were browsing on the boughs of the trees, in the woods.
Everything betrayed a scarcity of the means of supplying the slaves, who
cultivated the vast cotton-fields, with a sufficiency of food. We
traveled this day more than thirty miles, and crossed the Catawba river
in the afternoon, on the bottoms of which I saw, for the first time,
fields of rice, growing in swamps covered with water. Causeways were
raised through the low-lands in which the rice grew, and on which the
road was formed on which we traveled. These rice-fields, or rather
swamps, had, in my eyes, a beautiful appearance. The rice was nearly two
feet in height above the water, and of a vivid green color, covering a
large space, of at least a hundred acres. Had it not been for the water,
which appeared stagnant and sickly, and swarmed with frogs and thousands
of snakes, it would have been as fine a sight as one need wish to look
upon. After leaving the low grounds along the river, we again entered
plantations of cotton, which lined the roads on both sides, relieved,
here and there, by corn-fields and potato-patches. We stopped for the
night at a small tavern, and our master said we were within a day's
journey of Columbia.

We here, again, received boiled rice for supper, without salt, or any
kind of seasoning; a pint was allotted to each person, which we greedily
devoured, having had no dinner to-day, save an allowance of corn-cakes,
with the fat of about five pounds of bacon, extracted by frying, in
which we dipped our bread. I slept soundly after this day's march, the
fatigues of the body having, for once, overcome the agitations of the
mind. The next day, which was, if my recollection is accurate, the ninth
of June, was the last of our journey before our company separated; and
we were on the road before the stars had disappeared from the sky. Our
breakfast, this morning, consisted of bacon soup, a dish composed of
corn-meal, boiled in water, with a small piece of bacon to give the soup
a taste of meat. For dinner we had boiled Indian peas, with a small
allowance of bacon. This was the first time that we had received two
rations of meat in the same day, on the whole journey, and some of our
party were much surprised at the kindness of our master; but I had no
doubt that his object was to make us look fat and hearty, to enable him
to obtain better prices for us at Columbia.

At supper this night, we had corn mush, in large wooden trays, with
melted lard to dip the mush in before eating it. We might have reached
Columbia this day if we had continued our march, but we stopped, at
least an hour before sun-set, about three miles from town, at the house
of a man who supported the double character of planter and keeper of a
house of entertainment; for I learned from his slaves that their master
considered it disreputable to be called a tavern-keeper, and would not
put up a sign, although he received pay of such persons as lodged with
him. His house was a frame building, weather-boarded with pine boards,
but had no plastering within. The furniture corresponded with the house
which contained it, and was both scanty and mean, consisting of pine
tables and wooden chairs, with bottoms made of cornhusks. The house was
only one story high, and all the rooms, six or seven in number, parlor,
bed-rooms, and kitchen, were on the first floor. As the weather was warm
and the windows open, I had an opportunity of looking into the sleeping
rooms of the family, as I walked round the house, which I was permitted
freely to do. The beds and their furniture answered well to the chairs
and tables; yet in the large front room I observed on an old fashioned
side-board, a great quantity of glass-ware, of various descriptions,
with two or three dozen silver spoons, a silver tea-urn, and several
knives and forks with silver handles. In the corner of this room stood a
bed with gaudy red curtains, with figures of lions, elephants, naked
negroes, and other representations of African scenery.

The master of the house was not at home when we arrived, but came in
from the field shortly afterwards. He met my master with the cordiality
of an old friend, though he had never seen him before; said he was happy
to see him at his house, and that the greatest pleasure he enjoyed was
derived from the entertainment of such gentlemen as thought proper to
visit his house; that he was always glad to see strangers, and more
especially gentlemen who were adding so much to the wealth and
population of Carolina, as those merchants who imported servants from
the North. He then observed that he had never seen a finer lot of
property pass his house than we were, and that any gentleman who brought
such a stock of hands into the country was a public benefactor, and
entitled to the respect and gratitude of every friend of the South. He
assured my master that he was happy to see him at his house, and that if
he thought proper to remain a few days with him, it would be his chief
business to introduce him to the gentlemen of the neighborhood, who
would all be glad to become acquainted with a merchant of his
respectability. In the State of Maryland, my master had been called a
_negro buyer, or Georgia trader_, sometimes a _negro driver_; but here,
I found that he was elevated to the rank of merchant, and a merchant of
the first order too; for it was very clear that in the opinion of the
landlord, no branch of trade was more honorable than the traffic in us
poor slaves. Our master observed that he had a mind to remain here a
short time, and try what kind of market Columbia would present, for the
sale of his lot of servants; and that he would make his house his home,
until he had ascertained what could be done in town, and what demand
there was in the neighborhood for servants. We were not called _slaves_
by these men, who talked of selling us, and of the price we would bring,
with as little compunction of conscience as they would have talked of
the sale of so many mules.

It is the custom throughout all the slave-holding States, amongst people
of fashion, never to speak of their negroes as slaves, but always as
servants; but I had never before met with the keeper of a public house,
in the country, who had arrived at this degree of refinement. I had been
accustomed to hear this order of men, and indeed the greater number of
white people speak of the people of color as _niggers_.

We remained at this place more than two weeks; I presume because my
master found it cheaper to keep us here than in town, or perhaps,
because he supposed we might recover from the hardships of our journey
more speedily in the country.

As it was here that my real acquaintance with South Carolina commenced,
I have noted with more particularity the incidents that occurred, than I
otherwise should have done. This family was composed of the husband,
wife, three daughters, all young women, and two sons, one of whom
appeared to be about twenty, and the other, perhaps seventeen years old.
They had nine slaves in all, one very old man, quite crooked with years
and labor--two men of middle age--one lad, perhaps sixteen--one woman
with three children, the oldest about seven,--and a young girl of twelve
or fourteen. The farm, or plantation, they lived on, contained about one
hundred and fifty acres of cleared land, sandy, and the greater part of
it poor, as was proved by the stinted growth of the cotton.

At the time of our arrival at this house, I saw no persons about it,
except the four ladies--the mother and her three daughters--the husband
being in the field, as noticed above. According to the orders of my
master, I had taken the saddle from his horse and put him in a stable;
and it was not until after the first salutations of the new landlord to
my master were over, that he seemed to think of asking him whether he
had come on foot, on horse-back, or in a coach. He at length, however,
turned suddenly and asked him, with an air of surprise, where he had
left his horses and carriage. My master said he had no carriage, that he
traveled on horse-back, and that his horse was in the stable. The
landlord then apologized for the trouble he must have had, in having his
horse put away himself; and said that at this season of the year, the
planters were so hurried by their crops, and found so much difficulty in
keeping down the grass, that they were generally obliged to keep all
their servants in the field; that for his part, he had been compelled to
put his coachman, and even the waiting-maids of his daughters into the
cotton-fields, and that at this time, his family were without servants,
a circumstance that had never happened before! "For my part," said he,
"I have always prided myself on bringing up my family well, and can
say, that although I do not live in so fine a house as some of the other
planters of Carolina, yet my children are as great ladies and gentlemen
as any in the state. Not one of them has ever had to do a day's work
yet, and as long as I live, never shall. I sent two of my daughters to
Charleston last summer, and they were there three months; and I intend
to send the youngest there this summer. They have all learned to dance
here in Columbia, where I sent them two quarters to a Frenchman, and he
made me pay pretty well for it. They went to the same dancing school
with the daughters of Wade Hampton and Colonel Fitzhugh. I am determined
that they shall never marry any but gentlemen of the first character,
and I know they will always follow my advice in matters of this kind.
They are prudent and sensible girls, and are not going to do as Major
Pollack's daughter did this spring, who ran away with a Georgia cracker,
who brought a drove of cattle for sale from the Indian country, and who
had not a _nigger_ in the world. He staid with me sometime, and wished
to have something to say to my second daughter, but the thing would not
do."

Here he stopped short in his narrative, and seeming to muse a moment,
said to his guest, "I presume, as you travel alone, you have no family."
"No," replied my master, "I am a single man." "I thought so by your
appearance," said the loquacious landlord, "and I shall be glad to
introduce you to my family this evening. My sons are two as fine fellows
as there are in all Carolina. My oldest boy is lieutenant in the
militia, and in the same company that marched with Gen. Marion in the
war. He was on the point of fighting a duel last winter, with young
M'Corkle in Columbia; but the matter was settled between them. You will
see him this evening, when he returns from the quoit-party. A
quoit-party of young bucks meet once every week about two miles from
this, and as I wish my sons to keep the best company, they both attend
it. There is to be a cock-fight there this afternoon, and my youngest
son, Edmund, has the finest cock in this country. He is one of the true
game blood,--the real Dominica game breed; and I sent to Charleston for
his gaffs. There is a bet of ten dollars a side between my son's cock
and the one belonging to young Blainey, the son of Major Blainey. Young
Blainey is a hot-headed young blood, and has been concerned in three
duels, though I believe he never fought but one; but I know Edmund will
not take a word from him, and it will be well if he and his cock do not
both get well licked."

Here the conversation was arrested by the sound of horses' feet on the
road, and in the next instant, two young men rode up at a gallop,
mounted on lean looking horses; one of the riders carrying a pole on
his shoulder, with a game cock in a net bag, tied to one end of it. On
perceiving them the landlord exclaimed with an oath, "There's two lads
of spirit! stranger--and if you will allow me the liberty of asking you
your name, I will introduce you to them." At the suggestion of his name,
my master seemed to hesitate a little, but after a moment's pause, said,
"They call me M'Giffin, sir." "My name is Hulig, sir," replied the
landlord, "and I am very happy to be acquainted with you, Mr. M'Giffin,"
at the same time shaking him by the hand, and introducing his two sons,
who were by this time at the door.

This was the first time I had ever heard the name of my master, although
I had been with him five weeks. I had never seen him before the day on
which he seized and bound me in Maryland, and as he took me away
immediately, I did not hear his name at the time. The people who
assisted to fetter me, either from accident or design, omitted to name
him, and after we commenced our journey, he had maintained so much
distant reserve and austerity of manner towards us all, that no one
ventured to ask him his name. We had called him nothing but "master,"
and the various persons at whose houses we had stopped on our way, knew
as little of his name as we did. We had frequently been asked the name
of our master, and perhaps had not always obtained credence, when we
said we did not know it.

Throughout the whole journey, until after we were released from our
irons, he had forbidden us to converse together beyond a few words in
relation to our temporary condition and wants; and as he was with us all
day, and never slept out of hearing of us at night, he rigidly enforced
his edict of silence. I presume that the reason of this prohibition of
all conversation was to prevent us from devising plans of escape; but he
had imposed as rigid a silence on himself as was enforced upon us; and
after having passed from Maryland to South Carolina, in his company, I
knew no more of my master, than, that he knew how to keep his secrets,
guard his slaves, and make a close bargain. I had never heard him speak
of his home or family; and therefore had concluded that he was an
unmarried man, and an adventurer, who felt no more attachment for one
place than another, and whose residence was not very well settled; but,
from the large sums of money which he must have been able to command and
carry with him to the North, to enable him to purchase so large a number
of slaves, I had no doubt that he was a man of consequence and
consideration in the place from whence he came.

In Maryland, I had always observed that men, who were the owners of
large stocks of negroes, were not averse to having publicity given to
their names; and that the possession of this species of property even
there, gave its owner more vanity and egotism, than fell to the lot of
the holders of any other kind of estate; and in truth, my subsequent
experience proved that without the possession of slaves, no man could
ever arrive at, or hope to rise to any honorable station in
society;--yet, my master seemed to take no pride in having at his
disposal the lives of so many human beings. He never spoke to us in
words of either pity or hatred; and never spoke of us, except to order
us to be fed or watered, as he would have directed the same offices to
be performed for so many horses, or to inquire where the best prices
could be obtained for us. He regarded us only as objects of traffic and
the materials of his commerce; and although he had lived several years
in Carolina and Georgia, and had there exercised the profession of an
overseer, he regarded the Southern planters as no less the subjects of
trade and speculation than the slaves he sold to them; as will appear in
the sequel. It was to this man that the landlord introduced his two
sons, and upon whom he was endeavoring to impose a belief, that he was
the head of a family which took rank with those of the first planters of
the district. The ladies of the household, though I had seen them in the
kitchen when I walked round the house, had not yet presented themselves
to my master, nor indeed were they in a condition to be seen anywhere
but in the apartment they occupied at the time. The young gentlemen gave
a very gasconading account of the quoit-party and cock-fight, from which
they had just returned, and according to their version of the affair, it
might have been an assemblage of at least half the military officers of
the state; for all the persons of whom they spoke, were captains, majors
and colonels. The eldest said, he had won two bowls of punch at quoits;
and the youngest, whose cock had been victor in the battle, on which ten
dollars were staked, vaunted much of the qualities of his bird; and
supported his veracity by numerous oaths, and reiterated appeals to his
brother for the truth of his assertions. Both these young men were so
much intoxicated that they with difficulty maintained an erect posture
in walking.

By this time the sun was going down, and I observed two female slaves, a
woman and girl, approaching the house on the side of the kitchen from
the cotton-field. They were coming home to prepare supper for the
family; the ladies whom I had seen in the kitchen not having been there
for the purpose of performing the duties appropriate to that station,
but having sought it as a place of refuge from the sight of my master,
who had approached the front of their dwelling silently, and so suddenly
as not to permit them to gain the foot of the stairway in the large
front room, without being seen by him, to whose view they by no means
wished to expose themselves before they had visited their toilets. About
dark the supper was ready in the large room, and, as it had two fronts,
one of which looked into the yard where my companions and I had been
permitted to seat ourselves, and had an opportunity of seeing, by the
light of the candle, all that was done within, and of hearing all that
was said. The ladies, four in number, had entered the room before the
gentlemen; and when the latter came in my master was introduced, by the
landlord to his wife and daughters, by the name and title of _Colonel
M'Giffin_, which, at that time, impressed me with a belief that he was
really an officer, and that he had disclosed this circumstance without
my knowledge; but I afterwards perceived that in the south it is deemed
respectful to address a stranger by the title of Colonel, or Major, or
General, if his appearance will warrant the association of so high a
rank with his name. My master had declared his intention of becoming the
inmate of this family for some time, and no pains seemed to be spared on
their part to impress upon his mind the high opinion that they
entertained of the dignity of the owner of fifty slaves; the possession
of so large a number of human creatures being, in Carolina, a
certificate of character, which entitles its bearer to enter whatever
society he may choose to select, with out any thing more being known of
his birth, his life or reputation. The man who owns fifty servants must
needs be a gentleman amongst the higher ranks, and the owner of half a
hundred _niggers_ is a sort of nobleman amongst the low, the ignorant,
and the vulgar. The mother and three daughters, whose appearance, when I
saw them in the kitchen, would have warranted the conclusion that they
had just risen from bed without having time to adjust their dress, were
now gaily, if not neatly attired; and the two female slaves, who had
come from the field at sundown to cook the supper, now waited at the
table. The landlord talked much of his crops, his plantation and slaves,
and of the distinguished families who exchanged visits with his own; but
my master took very little part in the conversation of the evening, and
appeared disposed to maintain the air of mystery which had hitherto
invested his character.

After it was quite dark, the slaves came in from the cotton-field, and
taking little notice of us, went into the kitchen, and each taking
thence a pint of corn, proceeded to a little mill, which was nailed to a
post in the yard, and there commenced the operation of grinding meal for
their suppers, which were afterwards to be prepared by baking the meal
into cakes at the fire. The woman who was the mother of the three small
children, was permitted to grind her allowance of corn first, and after
her came the old man, and the others in succession. After the corn was
converted into meal, each one kneaded it up with cold water into a thick
dough, and raking away the ashes from a small space on the kitchen
hearth, placed the dough, rolled up in green leaves, in the hollow, and
covering it with hot embers, left it to be baked into bread, which was
done in about half an hour. These loaves constituted the only supper of
the slaves belonging to this family for I observed that the two women
who had waited at the table, after the supper of the white people was
disposed of, also came with their corn to the mill on the post and
ground their allowance like the others. They had not been permitted to
taste even the fragments of the meal that they had cooked for their
masters and mistresses. It was eleven o'clock before these people had
finished their supper of cakes, and several of them, especially the
younger of the two lads, were so overpowered with toil and sleep, that
they had to be roused from their slumbers when their cakes were done, to
devour them.

We had for our supper to-night, a pint of boiled rice to each person,
and a small quantity of stale and very rancid butter, from the bottom of
an old keg, or firkin, which contained about two pounds, the remnant of
that which once filled it. We boiled the rice ourselves, in a large
iron kettle; and, as our master now informed us that we were to remain
here some time, many of us determined to avail ourselves of this season
of respite from our toils, to wash our clothes, and free our persons
from the vermin which had appeared amongst our party several weeks
before, and now begun to be extremely tormenting. As we were not allowed
any soap, we were obliged to resort to the use of a very fine and
unctuous kind of clay, resembling fullers' earth, but of a yellow color,
which was found on the margin of a small swamp near the house. This was
the first time that I had ever heard of clay being used for the purpose
of washing clothes; but I often availed myself of this resource
afterwards, whilst I was a slave in the south. We wet our clothes, then
rubbed this clay all over the garments, and by scouring it out in warm
water with our hands, the cloth, whether of woollen, or cotton, or linen
texture, was entirely clean. We subjected our persons to the same
process, and in this way freed our camp from the host of enemies that
had been generated in the course of our journey.

This washing consumed the whole of the first day of our residence on the
plantation of Mr. Hulig. We all lay the first night in a shed, or summer
kitchen, standing behind the house, and a few yards from it a place in
which the slaves of the plantation washed their clothes, and passed
their Sundays in warm weather, when they did not work; but as this
place was quite too small to accommodate our party, or indeed to contain
us, without crowding us together in such a manner as to endanger our
health, we were removed, the morning after our arrival, to an old
decayed frame building, about one hundred yards from the house, which
had been erected, as I learned, for a cotton-gin, but into which its
possessor, for want of means I presume, had never introduced the
machinery of the gin. This building was near forty feet square; was
without any other floor than the earth, and neither doors nor windows,
to close the openings which had been left for the admission of those who
entered it. We were told that in this place the cotton of the plantation
was deposited in the picking season, as it was brought from the field,
until it could be removed to a neighboring plantation, where there was a
gin to divest it of its seeds.

Here we took our temporary abode--men and women, promiscuously. Our
provisions, whilst we remained here, were regularly distributed to us;
and our daily allowance to each person, consisted of a pint of corn, a
pint of rice, and about three or four pounds of butter, such as we had
received on the night of our arrival, divided amongst us, in small
pieces from the point of a table knife. The rice we boiled in the iron
kettle--we ground our corn at the little mill on the post in the
kitchen, and converted the meal into bread, in the manner we had been
accustomed to at home--sometimes on the hearth, and sometimes before the
fire on a hoe. The butter was given us as an extraordinary ration, to
strengthen and recruit us after our long march, and give us a healthy
and expert appearance at the time of our future sale.

We had no beds of any kind to sleep on, but each one was provided with a
blanket, which had been the companion of our travels. We were left
entirely at liberty to go out or in when we pleased, and no watch was
kept over us either by night or day.

Our master had removed us so far from our native country, that he
supposed it impossible for any of us ever to escape from him, and
surmount all the obstacles that lay between us and our former homes. He
went away immediately after we were established in our new lodgings, and
remained absent until the second evening about sundown, when he
returned, came into our shed, sat down on a block of wood in the midst
of us, and asked if any one had been sick; if we had got our clothes
clean; and if we had been supplied with an allowance of rice, corn and
butter. After satisfying himself upon these points, he told us that we
were now at liberty to run away if we chose to do so; but if we made the
attempt we should most certainly be re-taken, and subjected to the most
terrible punishment. "I never flog," said he, "my practice is to
_cat-haul_; and if you run away, and I catch you again--as I surely
shall do--and give you one cat-hauling, you will never run away again,
nor attempt it." I did not then understand the import of cat-hauling,
but in after times, became well acquainted with its signification.

We remained in this place nearly two weeks, during which time our
allowance of food was not varied, and was regularly given to us. We were
not required to do any work; and I had liberty and leisure to walk about
the plantation, and make such observations as I could upon the new state
of things around me. Gentlemen and ladies came every day to look at us,
with a view of becoming our purchasers; and we were examined with minute
care as to our ages, former occupations, and capacity of performing
labor. Our persons were inspected, and more especially the hands were
scrutinized, to see if all the fingers were perfect, and capable of the
quick motions necessary in picking cotton. Our master only visited us
once a day, and sometimes he remained absent two days; so that he seldom
met any of those who came to see us; but, whenever it so happened that
he did meet them, he laid aside his silence and became very talkative,
and even animated in his conversation, extolling our good qualities, and
averring that he had purchased some of as of one colonel, and others of
another general in Virginia; that he could by no means have procured us,
had it not been that, in some instances, our masters had ruined
themselves, and were obliged to sell us to save their families from
ruin; and in others, that our owners were dead, their estates deeply in
debt, and we had been sold at public sale; by which means he had become
possessed of us. He said our habits were unexceptionable, our characters
good; that there was not one among us all who had ever been known to run
away, or steal any thing from our former masters. I observed that
running away, and stealing from his master, were regarded as the highest
crimes of which a slave could be guilty; but I heard no questions asked
concerning our propensity to steal from other people besides our
masters, and I afterwards learned, that this was not always regarded as
a very high crime by the owner of a slave, provided he would perpetrate
the theft so adroitly as not to be detected in it.

We were severally asked by our visitors, if we would be willing to live
with them, if they would purchase us, to which we generally replied in
the affirmative; but our owner declined all the offers that were made
for us, upon the ground that we were too poor--looked too bad to be sold
at present--and that in our condition he could not expect to get a fair
value for us.

One evening, when our master was with us, a thin, sallow-looking man
rode up to the house, and alighting from his horse, came to us, and told
him that he had come to buy a boy; that he wished to get a good field
hand, and would pay a good price for him. I never saw a human
countenance that expressed more of the evil passions of the heart than
did that of this man, and his conversation corresponded with his
physiognomy. Every sentence of his language was accompanied with an oath
of the most vulgar profanity, and his eyes appeared to me to be the
index of a soul as cruel as his visage was disgusting and repulsive.

After looking at us for some time, this wretch singled _me_ out as the
object of his choice, and coming up to me, asked me how I would like him
for a master. In my heart I detested him; but a slave is often afraid to
speak the truth, and divulge all he feels; so with myself in this
instance, as it was doubtful whether I might not fall into his hands,
and be subject to the violence of his temper, I told him that if he was
a good master, as every gentleman ought to be, I should be willing to
live with him. He appeared satisfied with my answer, and turning to my
master, said he would give a high price for me. "I can," said he, "by
going to Charleston, buy as many Guinea negroes as I please for two
hundred dollars each, but as I like this fellow, I will give you four
hundred for him." This offer struck terror into my heart, for I knew it
was as much as was generally given for the best and ablest slaves, and I
expected that it would immediately be accepted as my price, and that I
should be at once consigned to the hands of this man, of whom I had
formed so abhorrent an opinion. To my surprise and satisfaction,
however, my master made no reply to the proposition; but stood for a
moment, with one hand raised to his face and his fore-finger on his
nose, and then turning suddenly to me, said, "Go into the house; I shall
not sell you to-day." It was my business to obey the order of departure,
and as I went beyond the sound of their voices, I could not understand
the purport of the conversation which followed between these two
traffickers in human blood; but after a parley of about a quarter of an
hour, the hated stranger started abruptly away, and going to the road,
mounted his horse, and rode off at a gallop, banishing himself and my
fears together.

I did not see my master again this evening, and when I came out of our
barracks in the morning, although it was scarcely daylight, I saw him
standing near one corner of the building, with his head inclined towards
the wall, evidently listening to catch any sounds within. He ordered me
to go and feed his horse, and have him saddled for him by sunrise. About
an hour afterwards he came to the stable in his riding dress; and told
me that he should remove us all to Columbia in a few days. He then rode
away, and did not return until the third day afterwards.



CHAPTER IV.


It was now about the middle of June, the weather excessively warm, and
from eleven o'clock, A. M., until late in the afternoon, the sand about
our residence was so hot that we could not stand on it with our bare
feet in one posture, more than one or two minutes. The whole country, so
far as I could see, appeared to be a dead plain, without the least
variety of either hill or dale. The pine was so far the predominating
timber of the forest, that at a little distance the entire woods
appeared to be composed of this tree.

I had become weary of being confined to the immediate vicinity of our
lodgings, and determined to venture out into the fields of the
plantation, and see the manner of cultivating cotton. Accordingly, after
I had made my morning meal upon corn cakes, I sallied out in the
direction which I had seen the slaves of the plantation take at the time
they left the house at daylight, and following a path through a small
field of corn, which was so tall as to prevent me from seeing beyond
it, I soon arrived at the field in which the people were at work with
hoes amongst the cotton, which was about two feet and a half high, and
had formed such long branches, that they could no longer plough in it
without breaking it. Expecting to pass the remainder of my life in this
kind of labor, I felt anxious to know the evils, if any, attending it,
and more especially the manner in which the slaves were treated on the
cotton estates.

The people now before me, were all diligently and laboriously weeding
and hilling the cotton with hoes, and when I approached them, they
scarcely took time to speak to me, but continued their labor as if I had
not been present. As there did not appear to be any overseer with them,
I thought I would go amongst them, and enter into conversation with
them; but upon addressing myself to one of the men, and telling him, if
it was not disagreeable to him, I should be glad to become acquainted
with him, he said he should be glad to be acquainted with me, but master
Tom did not allow him to talk much to people when he was at work. I
asked him where his master Tom was; but before he had time to reply,
same one called--"Mind your work there, you rascals." Looking in the
direction of the sound, I saw master Tom, sitting under the shade of a
sassafras tree, at the distance of about a hundred yards from us.
Deeming it unsafe to continue in the field without the permission of
its lord, I approached the sassafras tree, with my hat in my hand, and
in a very humble manner, asked leave to help the people work awhile, as
I was tired of staying about the house and doing nothing. He said he did
not care; I might go and work with them awhile, but I must take care not
to talk too much and keep his hands from their work.

Now, having authority on my side, I returned, and taking a hoe from the
hands of a small girl, told her to pull up weeds, and I would take her
row for her. When we arrived at the end of the rows which we were then
hilling, master Tom, who still held his post under the sassafras tree,
called his people to come to breakfast. Although I had already broken my
fast, I went with the rest for the purpose of seeing what their
breakfast was composed of. At the tree I saw a keg which contained about
five gallons, with water in it, and a gourd lying by it; near this was a
basket made of splits, large enough to hold more than a peck. It
contained the breakfast of the people, covered by some green leaves of
the magnolia, or great bay tree of the South. When the leaves were
removed, I found that the supply of provisions consisted of one cake of
corn-meal, weighing about half a pound, for each person. This bread had
no sort of seasoning, not even salt, and constituted the only breakfast
of these poor people, who had been toiling from early dawn until about
eight o'clock. There was no cake for me, and master Tom did not say
anything to me on the state of my stomach; but the young girl, whose hoe
I had taken in the field, offered me a part of her cake, which I
refused. After the breakfast was despatched, we again returned to our
work; but the master ordered the girl, whose hoe I had, to go and get
another hoe which lay at some distance in the field, and take her row
again. I continued in the field until dinner, which took place about one
o'clock, and was the same, in all respects, as the breakfast had been.

Master Tom was the younger of the two brothers who returned from the
cock-fight on the evening of our arrival at this place,--he left the
field about ten o'clock, and was succeeded by his elder brother, as
overseer for the remainder of the day. After this change of
superintendents, my companions became more loquacious, and in the course
of an hour or two, I had become familiar with the condition of my
fellow-laborers, who told me that the elder of their young masters was
much less tyrannical than his younger brother; and that whilst the
former remained in the field they would be at liberty to talk as much as
they pleased, provided they did not neglect their work. One of the men
who appeared to be about forty years of age, and who was the foreman of
the field, told me that he had been born in South Carolina, and had
always lived there, though he had only belonged to his present master
about ten years. I asked him if his master allowed him no meat, nor any
kind of provisions except bread; to which he replied that they never had
any meat except at Christmas, when each hand on the place received about
three pounds of pork; that from September, when the sweet potatoes were
at the maturity of their growth, they had an allowance of potatoes as
long as the crop held out, which was generally until about March; but
that for the rest of the year, they had nothing but a peck of corn a
week, with such weeds and other vegetables as they could gather from the
fields for greens--that their master did not allow them any salt, and
that the only means they had of procuring this luxury, was, by working
on Sundays for the neighboring planters, who paid them in money at the
rate of fifty cents per day, with which they purchased salt and some
other articles of convenience.

This man told me that his master furnished him with two shirts of tow
linen, and two pair of trowsers, one of woollen and the other of linen
cloth, one woollen jacket, and one blanket every year. That he received
the woollen clothes at Christmas, and the linen at Easter; and all the
other clothes, if he had any, he was obliged to provide for himself by
working on Sunday. He said, that for several years past, he had not
been able to provide any clothes for himself; as he had a wife with
several small children, on an adjoining plantation, whose master gave
only one suit of clothes in the year to the mother, and none of any kind
to the children, which had compelled him to lay out all his savings in
providing clothes for his family, and such little necessaries as were
called for by his wife from time to time. He had not had a shoe on his
foot for several years, but in winter made a kind of moccasin for
himself of the bark of a tree, which he said was abundant in the swamps,
and could be so manufactured as to make good ropes, and tolerable
moccasins, sufficient at least to defend the feet from the frost, though
not to keep them dry.

The old man whom I have alluded to before, was in the field with the
others, though he was not able to keep up with his row. He had no
clothes on him except the remains of an old shirt, which hung in tatters
from his neck and arms; the two young girls had nothing on them but
petticoats, made of coarse tow-cloth, and the woman, who was the mother
of the children, wore the remains of a tow-linen shift, the front part
of which was entirely gone; but a piece of old cotton bagging tied round
her loins, served the purposes of an apron The younger of the two boys
was entirely naked.

The man who was foreman of the field, was a person of good sense for the
condition of life in which fortune had placed him, and spoke to me
freely of his hard lot. I observed that under his shirt, which was very
ragged, he wore a piece of fine linen cloth, apparently part of an old
shirt, wrapped closely round his back, and confined in front by strings,
tied down his breast. I asked him why he wore that piece of gentleman's
linen under his shirt, and shall give his reply in his own words as well
as I can recollect them, at a distance of near thirty years.

"I have always been a hard working man, and have suffered a great deal
from hunger in my time. It is not possible for a man to work hard every
day for several months, and get nothing but a peck of corn a week to
eat, and not feel hungry. When a man is hungry, you know, (if you have
ever been hungry,) he must eat whatever he can get. I have not tasted
meat since last Christmas, and we have had to work uncommonly hard this
summer. Master has a flock of sheep, that run in the woods, and they
come every night to sleep in the lane near the house. Two weeks ago last
Saturday, when we quit work at night, I was very hungry, and as we went
to the house we passed along the lane where the sheep lay. There were
nearly fifty of them, and some were very fat. The temptation was more
than I could bear. I caught one of them, cut its head off with the hoe
that I carried on my shoulder, and threw it under the fence. About
midnight, when all was still about the house, I went out with a knife,
took the sheep into the woods, and dressed it by the light of the moon.
The carcass I took home, and after cutting it up, placed it in the great
kettle over a good fire, intending to boil it and divide it, when
cooked, between my fellow-slaves (whom I knew to be as hungry as I was)
and myself. Unfortunately for me, master Tom, who had been out amongst
his friends that day, had not returned at bed-time; and about one
o'clock in the morning, at the time when I had a blazing fire under the
kettle, I heard the sound of the feet of a horse coming along the lane.
The kitchen walls were open so that the light of my fire could not be
concealed, and in a moment I heard the horse blowing at the front of the
house. Conscious of my danger, I stripped my shirt from my back, and
pushed it into the boiling kettle, so as wholly to conceal the flesh of
the sheep. I had scarcely completed this act of precaution, when master
Tom burst into the kitchen, and with a terrible oath, asked me what I
was doing so late at night, with a great fire in the kitchen. I replied,
'I am going to wash my shirt, master, and am boiling it to get it
clean.' 'Washing your shirt at this time of night!' said he, 'I will let
you know that you are not to sit up all night and be lazy and good for
nothing all day. There shall be no boiling of shirts here on Sunday
morning,' and thrusting his cane into the kettle, he raised my shirt out
and threw it on the kitchen floor.

"He did not at first observe the mutton, which rose to the surface of
the water as soon as the shirt was removed; but, after giving the shirt
a kick towards the door, he again turned his face to the fire, and
seeing a leg standing several inches out of the pot, he demanded of me
what I had in there and where I had got this meat! Finding that I
was detected, and that the whole matter must be discovered, I
said,--'Master, I am hungry, and am cooking my supper.' 'What is it you
have in here?' 'A sheep,' said I, and as the words were uttered, he
knocked me down with his cane, and after beating me severely, ordered me
to cross my hands until he bound me fast with a rope that hung in the
kitchen, and answered the double purpose of a clothes line and a cord to
tie us with when we were to be whipped. He put out the fire under the
kettle, drew me into the yard, tied me fast to the mill-post, and
leaving me there for the night, went and called one of the negro boys to
put his horse in the stable, and went to his bed. The cord was bound so
tightly round my wrists, that before morning the blood had burst out
under my finger nails; but I suppose my master slept soundly for all
that. I was afraid to call any one to come and release me from my
torment, lest a still more terrible punishment might overtake me.

"I was permitted to remain in this situation until long after sunrise
the next morning, which being Sunday, was quiet and still; my
fellow-slaves being permitted to take their rest after the severe toil
of the past week, and my old master and two young ones having no
occasion to rise to call the hands to the field, did not think of
interrupting their morning slumbers, to release me from my painful
confinement. However, when the sun was risen about an hour, I heard the
noise of persons moving in the great house, and soon after a loud and
boisterous conversation, which I well knew portended no good to me. At
length they all three came into the yard where I lay lashed to the post,
and approaching me, my old master asked me if I had any accomplices in
stealing the sheep. I told them none--that it was entirely my own
act--and that none of my fellow-slaves had any hand in it. This was the
truth; but if any of my companions had been concerned with me, I should
not have betrayed them; for such an act of treachery could not have
alleviated the dreadful punishment which I knew awaited me, and would
only have involved them in the same misery.

"They called me a thief, loaded me with oaths and imprecations, and
each one proposed the punishment which he deemed the most appropriate to
the enormity of the crime that I had committed. Master Tom was of
opinion, that I should be lashed to the post at the foot of which I lay,
and that each of my fellow-slaves should be compelled to give me a dozen
lashes in turn, with a roasted and greased hickory _gad_, until I had
received, in the whole, two hundred and fifty lashes on my bare back,
and that he would stand by, with the whip in his hand, and _compel_ them
not to spare me; but after a short debate this was given up, as it would
probably render me unable to work in the field again for several weeks.
My master Ned was in favor of giving me a dozen lashes every morning for
a month, with the whip; but my old master said, this would be attended
with too much trouble, and besides, it would keep me from my work, at
least half an hour every morning, and proposed, in his turn, that I
should not be whipped at all, but that the carcass of the sheep should
be taken from the kettle in its half-boiled condition, and hung up in
the kitchen loft without salt; and that I should be compelled to subsist
on this putrid mutton without any other food, until it should be
consumed. This suggestion met the approbation of my young masters, and
would have been adopted, had not mistress at this moment come into the
yard, and hearing the intended punishment, loudly objected to it,
because the mutton would, in a day or two, create such an offensive
stench, that she and my young mistresses would not be able to remain in
the house. My mistress swore dreadfully, and cursed me for an ungrateful
sheep thief, who, after all her kindness in giving me soup and warm
bread when I was sick last winter, was always stealing every thing I
could get hold of. She then said to my master, that such villany ought
not to be passed over in a slight manner, and that as crimes, such as
this, concerned the whole country, my punishment ought to be public for
the purpose of example; and advised him to have me whipped that same
afternoon, at five o'clock; first giving notice to the neighborhood to
come and see the spectacle, and to bring with them their slaves, that
they might be witnesses to the consequences of stealing sheep.

"They then returned to the house to breakfast; but as the pain in my
hands and arms produced by the ligatures of the cord with which I was
bound, was greater than I could bear, I now felt exceedingly sick, and
lost all knowledge of my situation. They told me I fainted; and when I
recovered my faculties, I found myself lying in the shade of the house,
with my hands free, and all the white persons in my master's family
standing around me. As soon as I was able to stand, the rope was tied
round my neck, and the other end again fastened to the mill post. My
mistress said I had only pretended to faint; and master Tom said, I
would have something worth fainting for before night. He was faithful to
his promise; but, for the present, I was suffered to sit on the grass in
the shade of the house.

"As soon as breakfast was over, my two young masters had their horses
saddled, and set out to give notice to their friends of what had
happened, and to invite them to come and see me punished for the crime I
had committed. My mistress gave me no breakfast, and when I begged one
of the black boys whom I saw looking at me through the pales, to bring
me some water in a gourd to drink, she ordered him to bring it from a
puddle in the lane. My mistress has always been very cruel to all her
black people.

"I remained in this situation until about eleven o'clock, when one of my
young mistresses came to me and gave me a piece of jonny-cake about the
size of my hand, perhaps larger than my hand, telling me at the same
time, that my fellow-slaves had been permitted to re-boil the mutton
that I had left in the kettle, and make their breakfast of it, but that
her mother would not allow her to give me any part of it. It was well
for them that I had parboiled it with my shirt, and so defiled it that
it was unfit for the table of my master, otherwise, no portion of it
would have fallen to the black people--as it was, they had as much meat
as they could consume in two days, for which I had to suffer.

"About twelve o'clock, one of my young masters returned, and soon
afterwards the other came home. I heard them tell my old master that
they had been round to give notice of my offence to the neighboring
planters, and that several of them would attend to see me flogged, and
would bring with them some of their slaves, who might be able to report
to their companions what had been done to me for stealing.

"It was late in the afternoon before any of the gentlemen came; but,
before five o'clock, there were more than twenty white people, and at
least fifty black ones present, the latter of whom had been compelled,
by their masters, to come and see me punished. Amongst others, an
overseer from a neighboring estate attended; and to him was awarded the
office of executioner. I was stripped of my shirt, and the waist-band of
my trousers was drawn closely round me, below my hips, so as to expose
the whole of my back, in its entire length.

"It seems that it had been determined to beat me with thongs of raw
cow-hide, for the overseer had two of these in his hands, each about
four feet long; but one of the gentlemen present said this might bruise
my back so badly, that I could not work for sometime; perhaps not for a
week or two; and as I could not be spared from the field without
disadvantage to my master's crop, he suggested a different plan, by
which, in his opinion, the greatest degree of pain could be inflicted on
me, with the least danger of rendering me unable to work. As he was a
large planter, and had more than fifty slaves, all were disposed to be
guided by his counsels, and my master said he would submit the matter
entirely to him as a man of judgment and experience in such cases. He
then desired my master to have a dozen pods of red pepper boiled in half
a gallon of water, and desired the overseer to lay aside his thongs of
raw-hide, and put a new cracker of silk, to the lash of his negro whip.
Whilst these preparations were being made, each of my thumbs were lashed
closely to the end of a stick about three feet long, and a chair being
placed beside the mill post, I was compelled to raise my hands and place
the stick, to which my thumbs were bound, over the top of the post,
which is about eighteen inches square; the chair was then taken from
under me, and I was left hanging by the thumbs, with my face towards the
post, and my feet about a foot from the ground. My two great toes were
then tied together, and drawn down the post as far as my joints could be
stretched; the cord was passed round the post two or three times and
securely fastened. In this posture I had no power of motion, except in
my neck, and could only move that at the expense of beating my face
against the side of the post.

"The pepper tea was now brought, and poured into a basin to cool, and
the overseer was desired to give me a dozen lashes just above the
waist-band; and not to cover a space of more than four inches on my
back, from the waist-band upwards. He obeyed the injunction faithfully,
but slowly, and each crack of the whip was followed by a sensation as
painful as if a red hot iron had been drawn across my back. When the
twelve strokes had been given, the operation was suspended, and a black
man, one of the slaves present, was compelled to wash the gashes in my
skin, with the scalding pepper tea, which was yet so hot that he could
not hold his hand in it. This doubly-burning liquid was thrown into my
raw and bleeding wounds, and produced a tormenting smart, beyond the
description of language. After a delay of ten minutes, by the watch, I
received another dozen lashes, on the part of my back which was
immediately above the bleeding and burning gashes of the former
whipping; and again the biting, stinging, pepper tea was applied to my
lacerated and trembling muscles. This operation was continued at regular
intervals, until I had received ninety-six lashes, and my back was cut
and scalded from end to end. Every stroke of the whip had drawn blood;
many of the gashes were three inches long; my back burned as if it had
been covered by a coat of hot embers, mixed with living coals; and I
felt my flesh quiver like that of animals that have been slaughtered by
the butcher and are flayed whilst yet half alive. My face was bruised,
and my nose bled profusely, for in the madness of my agony, I had not
been able to refrain from beating my head violently against the post.

"Vainly did I beg and implore for mercy. I was kept bound to the post
with my whole weight hanging upon my thumbs, an hour and a half, but it
appeared to me that I had entered upon eternity, and that my sufferings
would never end. At length, however, my feet were unbound, and
afterwards my hands; but when released from the cords, I was so far
exhausted as not to be able to stand, and my thumbs were stiff and
motionless. I was carried into the kitchen, and laid on a blanket, where
my mistress came to see me; and after looking at my lacerated back, and
telling me that my wounds were only skin deep, said I had come off well,
after what I had done, and that I ought to be thankful that it was not
worse with me. She then bade me not to groan so loud, nor make so much
noise, and left me to myself. I lay in this condition until it was quite
dark, by which time the burning of my back had much abated, and was
succeeded by an aching soreness, which rendered me unable to turn over
or bend my spine in the slightest manner. My mistress again visited me,
and brought with her about half a pound of fat bacon, which she made one
of the black women roast before the fire on a fork, until the oil ran
freely from it, and then rub it warm over my back. This was repeated
until I was greased from the neck to the hips, effectually. An old
blanket was then thrown over me, and I was left to pass the night alone.
Such was the terror stricken into my fellow-slaves, by the example made
of me, that although they loved and pitied me, not one of them dared to
approach me during this night.

"My strength was gone, and I at length fell asleep, from which I did not
awake until the horn was blown the next morning, to call the people to
the corn crib, to receive their weekly allowance of a peck of corn. I
did not rise, nor attempt to join the other people, and shortly
afterwards my master entered the kitchen, and in a soft and gentle tone
of voice, asked me if I was dead. I answered him that I was not dead,
and making some effort, found I was able to get upon my feet. My master
had become frightened when he missed me at the corn crib, and being
suddenly seized with an apprehension that I was dead, his heart had
become softened, not with compassion for my sufferings, but with the
fear of losing his best field hand; but when he saw me stand before him
erect, and upright, the recollection of the lost sheep revived in his
mind, and with it, all his feelings of revenge against the author of its
death.

"'So you are not dead yet, you thieving rascal,' said he, and cursing me
with many bitter oaths, ordered me to go along to the crib and get my
corn, and go to work with the rest of the hands. I was forced to obey,
and taking my basket of corn from the door of the crib, placed it in the
kitchen loft, and went to the field with the other people.

"Weak and exhausted as I was, I was compelled to do the work of an able
hand, but was not permitted to taste the mutton, which was all given to
the others, who were carefully guarded whilst they were eating, lest
they should give me some of it."

This man's back was not yet well. Many of the gashes made by the lash
were yet sore, and those that were healed had left long white stripes
across his body. He had no notion of leaving the service of his
tyrannical master, and his spirit was so broken and subdued that he was
ready to suffer and to bear all his hardships: not, indeed, without
complaining, but without attempting to resist his oppressors or to
escape from their power. I saw him often whilst I remained at this
place, and ventured to tell him once, that if I had a master who would
abuse me as he had abused him, I would run away. "Where could I run, or
in what place could I conceal myself?" said he. "I have known many
slaves who ran away, but they were always caught and treated worse
afterwards than they had been before. I have heard that there is a place
called Philadelphia, where the black people are all free, but I do not
know which way it lies, nor what road I should take to go there; and if
I knew the way, how could I hope to get there? would not the patrol be
sure to catch me?"

I pitied this unfortunate creature, and was at the same time fearful
that, in a short time, I should be equally the object of pity myself.
How well my fears were justified the sequel of my narrative will show.



CHAPTER V.


We had been stationed in the old cotton-gin house about twenty days, had
recovered from the fatigues of our journey, and were greatly improved in
our strength and appearance, when our master returned one evening, after
an absence of two days, and told us that we must go to Columbia the next
day, and must, for this purpose, have our breakfast ready by sunrise. On
the following morning he called us at daylight, and we made all despatch
in preparing our morning repast, the last that we were to take in our
present residence.

As our equipments consisted of a few clothes we had on our persons and a
solitary blanket to each individual, our baggage was easily adjusted,
and we were on the road before the sun was up half an hour; and in less
than an hour we were in Columbia, drawn up in a long line in the street
opposite the court-house.

The town, which was small and mean-looking, was full of people, and I
believe that more than a thousand gentlemen came to look at us within
the course of this day. We were kept in the street about an hour, and
were then taken into the jail-yard and permitted to sit down; but were
not shut up in the jail. The court was sitting in Columbia at this time,
and either this circumstance or the intelligence of our arrival in the
country, or both, had drawn together a very great crowd of people.

We were supplied with victuals by the jailor, and had a small allowance
of salt pork for dinner. We slept in the jail at night, and as none of
us had been sold on the day of our arrival in Columbia, and we had not
heard any of the persons who came to look at us make proposals to our
master for our purchase, I supposed it might be his intention to drive
us still farther south before he offered us for sale; but I discovered
my error on the second day, which was Tuesday. This day the crowd in
town was much greater than it had been on Monday; and, about ten o'clock
our master came into the yard in company with the jailor, and after
looking at us some time, the latter addressed us in a short speech,
which continued perhaps five minutes. In this harangue he told us we had
come to live in the finest country in the world; that South Carolina was
the richest and best part of the United States; and that he was going to
sell us to gentlemen who would make us all very happy, and would require
us to do no hard work; but only raise cotton and pick it. He then
ordered a handsome young lad, about eighteen years of age, to follow him
into the street, where he observed a great concourse of persons
collected. Here the jailor made another harangue to the multitude, in
which he assured them that he was just about to sell the most valuable
lot of slaves that had ever been offered in Columbia. That we were all
young, in excellent health, of good habits, having been all purchased in
Virginia, from the estates of tobacco planters; and that there was not
one in the whole lot who had lost the use of a single finger, or was
blind of an eye.

He then cried the poor lad for sale, and the first bid he received was
two hundred dollars. Others quickly succeeded, and the boy, who was a
remarkably handsome youth, was stricken off in a few minutes to a young
man who appeared not much older than himself, at three hundred and fifty
dollars. The purchaser paid down his price to our master on a table in
the jail, and the lad, after bidding us farewell, followed his new
master with tears running down his cheeks.

He next sold a young girl, about fifteen or sixteen years old, for two
hundred and fifty dollars, to a lady who attended the sales in her
carriage, and made her bids out of the window. In this manner the sales
were continued for about two hours and a half, when they were adjourned
until three o'clock. In the afternoon they were again resumed, and kept
open until about five o'clock, when they were closed for the day. As my
companions were sold, they were taken from amongst us, and we saw them
no more.

The next morning, before day, I was awakened from my sleep by the sound
of several heavy fires of cannon, which were discharged, as it seemed to
me, within a few yards of the place where I lay. These were succeeded by
fifes and drums, and all the noise with which I had formerly heard the
fourth of July ushered in, at the Navy Yard in Washington.

Since I had left Maryland I had carefully kept the reckoning of the days
of the week, but had not been careful to note the dates of the month;
yet as soon as daylight appeared, and the door of our apartment was
opened, I inquired and learned that this was, as I had supposed it to
be, the day of universal rejoicing.

I understood that the court did not sit this day, but a great crowd of
people gathered and remained around the jail all the morning; many of
whom were intoxicated, and sang and shouted in honor of free government,
and the rights of man. About eleven o'clock, a long table was spread
under a row of trees which grew in the street, not far from the jail,
and which appeared to me to be of the kind called in Pennsylvania, the
pride of China. At this table several hundred persons sat down to dinner
soon after noon, and continued to eat and drink, and sing songs in
honor of liberty, for more than two hours. At the end of the dinner a
gentleman rose and stood upon his chair, near one end of the table, and
begged the company to hear him for a few minutes. He informed them that
he was a candidate for some office--but what office it was I do not
recollect--and said, that as it was an acknowledged principle of our
free government, that all men were born free and equal, he presumed it
would not be deemed an act of arrogance in him, to call upon them for
their votes at the coming election.

This first speaker was succeeded by another, who addressed his audience
in nearly the same language; and after he had concluded, the company
broke up. I heard a black man that belonged to the jailer, or, who was
at least in his service, say that there had been a great meeting that
morning in the court house, at which several gentlemen had made
speeches.

When I lived at the navy-yard, the officers sometimes permitted me to go
up town with them, on the fourth of July, and listen to the fine
speeches that were made there, on such occasions.

About five o'clock, the jailer came and stood at the front door of the
jail, and proclaimed, in a very loud voice, that a sale of most valuable
slaves would immediately take place; that he had sold many fine hands
yesterday, but they were only the refuse and most worthless part of the
whole lot;--that those who wished to get great bargains and prime
property, had better attend now; as it was certain that such negroes had
never been offered for sale in Columbia before.

In a few minutes the whole assembly, that had composed the dinner party,
and hundreds of others, were convened around the jail door, and the
jailer again proceeded with his auction. Several of the stoutest men and
handsomest women in the whole company, had been reserved for this day;
and I perceived that the very best of us were kept back for the last. We
went off at rather better prices than had been obtained on the former
day; and I perceived much eagerness amongst the bidders, many of whom
were not sober. Within less than three hours, only three of us remained
in the jail; and we were ordered to come and stand at the door, in front
of the crier, who made a most extravagant eulogium upon our good
qualities and capacity to perform labor. He said, "These three fellows
are as strong as horses, and as patient as mules; one of them can do as
much work as two common men, and they are perfectly honest. Mr. M'Giffin
says, he was assured by their former masters that they were never known
to steal, or run away. They must bring good prices, gentlemen, or they
will not be sold. Their master is determined, that if they do not bring
six hundred dollars, he will not sell them, but will take them to
Georgia next summer, and sell them to some of the new settlers. These
boys can do anything. This one," referring to me, "can cut five cords of
wood in a day, and put it up. He is a rough carpenter, and a first rate
field hand. This one," laying his hand on the shoulder of one of my
companions, "is a blacksmith; and can lay a ploughshare; put new steel
upon an axe; or mend a broken chain." The other, he recommended as a
good shoemaker, and well acquainted with the process of tanning leather.

We were all nearly of the same age; and very stout, healthy, robust
young men, in full possession of our corporal powers; and if we had been
shut up in a room, with ten of the strongest of those who had assembled
to purchase us, and our liberty had depended on tying them fast to each
other, I have no doubt that we should have been free, if ropes had been
provided for us.

After a few minutes of hesitancy amongst the purchasers, and a closer
examination of our persons than had been made in the jail-yard, an
elderly gentleman said he would take the carpenter; and the blacksmith,
and shoemaker, were immediately taken by others, at the required price.

It was now sundown. The heat of the day had been very oppressive, and I
was glad to be released from the confined air of the jail, and the hot
atmosphere, in which so many hundreds were breathing.--My new master
asked me my name, and ordered me to follow him.

We proceeded to a tavern, where a great number of persons were
assembled, at a short distance from the jail. My master entered the
house, and joined in the conversation of the party, in which the utmost
hilarity prevailed. They were drinking toasts in honor of liberty and
independence, over glasses of toddy--a liquor composed of a mixture of
rum, water, sugar, and nutmeg.

It was ten o'clock at night before my master and his companions had
finished their toasts and toddy; and all this time, I had been standing
before the door, or sitting on a log of wood, that lay in front of the
house. At one time, I took a seat on a bench, at the side of the house;
but was soon driven from this position by a gentleman, in military
clothes, with a large gilt epaulet on each shoulder, and a profusion of
glittering buttons on his coat; who passing near me in the dark, and
happening to cast his eye on me, demanded of me, in an imperious tone,
how I dared to sit on that seat. I told him I was a stranger, and did
not know that it was wrong to sit there. He then ordered me with an
oath, to begone from there; and said, if he caught me on that bench
again, he would cut my head off. "Did you not see white people sit upon
that bench, you saucy rascal?" said he. I assured him I had not seen any
white gentleman sit on the bench, as it was near night when I came to
the house; that I had not intended to be saucy, or misbehave myself; and
that I hoped he would not be angry with me, as my master had left me at
the door, and had not told me where I was to sit.

I remained on the log until the termination of the festival, in honor of
liberty and equality; when my master came to the door, and observed in
my hearing, to some of his friends, that they had celebrated the day in
a handsome manner.

No person, except the military gentleman, had spoken to me since I came
to the house in the evening with my master, who seemed to have forgotten
me; for he remained at the door, warmly engaged in conversation, on
various political subjects, a full hour after he rose from the toast
party. At length, however, I heard him say--"I bought a negro this
evening--I wonder where he is." Rising immediately from the log on which
I had been so long seated, I presented myself before him, and said,
"Here, master." He then ordered me to go to the kitchen of the inn, and
go to sleep; but said nothing to me about supper.--I retired to the
kitchen, where I found a large number of servants, who belonged to the
house, and among them two young girls, who had been purchased by a
gentleman who lived near Augusta; and who, they told me, intended to set
out for his plantation the next morning, and take them with him.

These girls had been sold out of our company on the first day; and had
been living in the tavern kitchen since that time. They appeared quite
contented, and evinced no repugnance to setting out the next morning for
their master's plantation. They were of that order of people who never
look beyond the present day; and so long as they had plenty of victuals,
in this kitchen, they did not trouble themselves with reflections upon
the cotton field.

One of the servants gave me some cold meat and a piece of wheaten bread,
which was the first I had tasted since I left Maryland, and indeed, it
was the last that I tasted until I reached Maryland again.

I here met with a man who was born and brought up in the Northern Neck
of Virginia, on the banks of the Potomac, and within a few miles of my
native place. We soon formed an acquaintance, and sat up nearly all
night. He was the chief hostler in the stable of this tavern, and told
me that he had often thought of attempting to escape, and return to
Virginia. He said he had little doubt of being able to reach the
Potomac; but having no knowledge of the country beyond that river, he
was afraid that he should not be able to make his way to Philadelphia;
which he regarded as the only place in which he could be safe from the
pursuit of his master. I was myself then young, and my knowledge of the
country, north of Baltimore, was very vague and undefined. I, however,
told him, that I had heard, that if a black man could reach any part of
Pennsylvania, he would be beyond the reach of his pursuers. He said he
could not justly complain of want of food; but the services required of
him were so unreasonable, and the punishment frequently inflicted upon
him, so severe, that he was determined to set out for the North, as soon
as the corn was so far ripe as to be fit to be roasted. He felt
confident, that by lying in the woods and unfrequented places all day,
and traveling only by night, he could escape the vigilance of all
pursuit; and gain the Northern Neck, before the corn would be gathered
from the fields. He had no fear of wanting food, as he could live well
on roasting ears, as long as the corn was in the milk; and afterwards,
on parched corn, as long as the grain remained in the field. I advised
him as well as I could, as to the best means of reaching the State of
Pennsylvania, but was not able to give him any very definite
instructions.

This man possessed a very sound understanding; and having been five
years in Carolina, was well acquainted with the country. He gave me such
an account of the sufferings of the slaves, on the cotton and indigo
plantations--of whom I now regarded myself as one--that I was unable to
sleep any this night. From the resolute manner in which he spoke of his
intended elopement, and the regularity with which he had connected the
various combinations of the enterprise, I have no doubt that he
undertook that which he intended to perform. Whether he was successful
or not in the enterprise, I cannot say, as I never saw him nor heard of
him after the next morning.

This man certainly communicated to me the outlines of the plan, which I
afterwards put in execution, and by which I gained my liberty, at the
expense of sufferings, which none can appreciate, except those who have
borne all that the stoutest human constitution can bear, of cold and
hunger, toil and pain. The conversation of this slave aroused in my
breast so many recollections of the past, and fears of the future, that
I did not lie down, but sat on an old chair until daylight.

From the people of the kitchen I again received some cold victuals for
my breakfast, but I did not see my master until about nine o'clock; the
toddy of the last evening causing him to sleep late this morning. At
length a female slave gave me notice that my master wished to see me in
the dining-room, whither I repaired without a moment's delay. When I
entered the room he was sitting near the window, smoking a pipe, with a
very long handle--I believe more than two feet in length.

He asked no questions, but addressing me by the title of "boy," ordered
me to go with the hostler of the inn, and get his horse and chaise
ready. As soon as this order could be executed, I informed him that his
chaise was at the door, and we immediately commenced our journey to the
plantation of my master, which, he told me, lay at the distance of
twenty miles from Columbia. He said I must keep up with him, and, as he
drove at the rate of five or six miles an hour, I was obliged to run
nearly half the time; but I was then young, and could easily travel
fifty or sixty miles in a day. It was with great anxiety that I looked
for the place, which was in future to be my home; but this did not
prevent me from making such observations upon the state of the country
through which we traveled, as the rapidity of our march permitted.

This whole region had originally been one vast wilderness of pine
forest, except the low grounds and river bottoms, here called swamps, in
which all the varieties of trees, shrubs, vines, and plants peculiar to
such places, in southern latitudes, vegetated in unrestrained
luxuriance. Nor is pine the only timber that grows on the uplands, in
this part of Carolina, although it is the predominant tree, and in some
places prevails to the exclusion of every other--oak, hickory,
sassafras, and many others are found.

Here, also, I first observed groves of the most beautiful of all the
trees of the wood--the great Southern Magnolia, or Green Bay. No
adequate conception can be formed of the appearance or the fragrance of
this most magnificent tree, by any one who has not seen it or scented
the air when scented by the perfume of its flowers. It rises in a right
line to the height of seventy or eighty feet; the stem is of a delicate
taper form and casts off numerous branches, in nearly right angles with
itself; the extremities of which decline gently towards the ground, and
become shorter and shorter in the ascent, until at the apex of the tree
they are scarcely a foot in length, whilst below they are many times
found twenty feet long. The immense cones formed by these trees are as
perfect as those diminutive forms which nature exhibits in the bur of
the pine tree. The leaf of the Magnolia is smooth, of an oblong taper
form, about six inches in length, and half as broad. Its color is the
deepest and purest green. The foliage of the Bay tree is as impervious
as a brick wall to the rays of the sun, and its refreshing coolness, in
the heat of a summer day, affords one of the greatest luxuries of a
cotton plantation. It blooms in May, and bears great numbers of broad,
expanded white flowers, the odor of which is exceedingly grateful, and
so abundant, that I have no doubt that a grove of these trees in full
bloom, may be smelled at a distance of fifteen or twenty miles. I have
heard it asserted in the South, that their scent has been perceived by
persons fifty or sixty miles from them.

This tree is one of nature's most splendid, and in the climate where she
has placed it, one of her most agreeable productions. It is peculiar to
the southern temperate latitudes, and cannot bear the rigors of a
northern winter; though I have heard that groves of the Bay are found on
Fishing Creek, in Western Virginia, not far from Wheeling, and near the
Ohio river. Could this tree be naturalized in Pennsylvania, it would
form an ornament to her towns, cities and country seats, at once the
most tasteful and the most delicious. A forest of these trees, in the
month of May, resembles a wood, enveloped in an untimely fall of snow at
midsummer, glowing in the rays of a morning sun.

We passed this day through cotton-fields and pine woods, alternately;
but the scene was sometimes enlivened by the appearance of lots of corn
and sweet potatoes, which, I observed, were generally planted near the
houses. I afterwards learned that this custom of planting the corn and
potatoes near the house of the planter, is generally all over Carolina.
The object is to prevent the slaves from stealing, and thus procuring
more food than, by the laws of the plantation, they are entitled to.

In passing through a lane, I this day saw a field which appeared to me
to contain about fifty acres, in which people were at work with hoes,
amongst a sort of plants that I had never seen before. I asked my master
what this was, and he told me it was indigo. I shall have occasion to
say more of this plant hereafter.

We at length arrived at the residence of my master, who descended from
his chaise, and leaving me in charge of the horse at the gate, proceeded
to the house across a long court yard. In a few minutes two young
ladies, and a young gentleman, came out of the house, and walked to the
gate, near which I was with the horse. One of the ladies said, they had
come to look at me, and see what kind of a boy her pa had brought home
with him. The other one said I was a very smart looking boy; and this
compliment flattered me greatly--they being the first kind words that
had been addressed to me since I left Maryland. The young gentleman
asked me if I could run fast, and if I had ever picked cotton. His
manner did not impress me so much in his favor, as the address of his
sister had done for her. These three young persons were the son and
daughters of my master. After looking at me a short time, my young
master (for so I must now call him) ordered me to take the harness from
the horse, give him water at a well which was near, and come into the
kitchen, where some boiled rice was given me for my dinner.

I was not required to go to work this first day of my abode in my new
residence; but after I had eaten my rice, my young master told me I
might rest myself or walk out and see the plantation, but that I must be
ready to go with the overseer the next morning.



CHAPTER VI.


By the laws of the United States I am still a slave; and though I am now
growing old, I might even yet be deemed of sufficient value to be worth
pursuing as far as my present residence, if those to whom the law gives
the right of dominion over my person and life, knew where to find me.
For these reasons I have been advised, by those whom I believe to be my
friends, not to disclose the true names of any of those families in
which I was a slave, in Carolina or Georgia, lest this narrative should
meet their eyes, and in some way lead them to a discovery of my retreat.

I was now the slave of one of the most wealthy planters in Carolina, who
planted cotton, rice, indigo, corn, and potatoes; and was the master of
two hundred and sixty slaves.

The description of one great cotton plantation will give a correct idea
of all others; and I shall here present an outline of that of my
master's.

He lived about two miles from Caugaree river, which bordered his estate
on one side, and in the swamps of which were his rice fields. The
country hereabout is very flat, the banks of the river are low, and in
wet seasons large tracts of country are flooded by the super-abundant
water of the river. There are no springs, and the only means of
procuring water on the plantations is from wells, which must be sunk in
general about twenty feet deep, before a constant supply of water can be
obtained. My master had two of these wells on his plantation--one at the
mansion house, and one at the quarter.

My master's house was of brick, (brick houses are by no means common
among the planters, whose residences are generally built of frame work,
weather boarded with pine boards, and covered with shingles of the white
cedar or juniper cypress,) and contained two large parlors, and a
spacious hall or entry on the ground floor. The main building was two
stories high, and attached to this was a smaller building, one story and
a half high, with a large room, where the family generally took
breakfast, with a kitchen at the farther extremity from the main
building.

There was a spacious garden behind the house, containing, I believe,
about five acres, well cultivated, and handsomely laid out. In this
garden grew a great variety of vegetables; some of which I have never
seen in the market of Philadelphia. It contained a profusion of
flowers, three different shrubberies, a vast number of ornamental and
small fruit trees, and several small hot houses, with glass roofs. There
was a head gardener, who did nothing but attend to this garden through
the year; and during the summer he generally had two men and two boys to
assist him. In the months of April and May this garden was one of the
sweetest and most pleasant places that I ever was in. At one end of the
main building was a small house, called the library, in which my master
kept his books and papers, and where he spent much of his time.

At some distance from the mansion was a pigeon-house, and near the
kitchen was a large wooden building, called the kitchen quarter, in
which the house servants slept, and where they generally took their
meals. Here, also, the washing of the family was done, and all the rough
or unpleasant work of the kitchen department--such as cleaning and
salting fish, putting up pork, &c., was assigned to this place.

There was no barn on this plantation, according to the acceptation of
the word _barn_ in Pennsylvania; but there was a wooden building, about
forty feet long, called the coach-house, in one end of which the family
carriage and the chaise in which my master rode were kept. Under the
same roof was a stable large enough to contain a dozen horses. In one
end the corn intended for the horses was kept, and the whole of one
loft was occupied by the blades and tops of the corn. About a quarter of
a mile from the dwelling house were the huts or cabins of the plantation
slaves, standing in rows. There were thirty-eight of them, generally
about sixteen feet square, and provided with pine floors. In these
cabins were two hundred and fifty people, of all ages, sexes and sizes.
A short distance from the cabins was the house of the overseer. In one
corner of his garden stood a corn-crib and a provision-house. A little
way off stood the house containing the cotton-gin. There was no
smoke-house, nor any place for curing meat, and while I was on this
plantation no food was ever salted for the use of the slaves.

I went out into the garden, and after sundown my old master sent me to
the overseer's house. He was just coming in from the field, followed by
a great number of black people. He asked me my name, and calling a
middle-aged man, who was passing us at some distance, told him he must
take me to live with him. I followed my new friend to his cabin, which
was the shelter of his wife and five children. Their only furniture
consisted of a few blocks of wood for seats; a short bench, made of a
pine board, which served as a table; and a small bed in one corner,
composed of a mat, made of common rushes, spread upon some corn husks,
pulled and split into fine pieces, and kept together by a narrow slip of
wood, confined to the floor by wooden pins. There was a common iron pot
standing beside the chimney, and several wooden spoons and dishes hung
against the wall. Several blankets also hung against the wall upon
wooden pins. An old box, made of pine boards, without either lock or
hinges, occupied one corner.

At the time I entered this humble abode the mistress was not at home.
She had not yet returned from the field; having been sent, as the
husband informed me, with some other people late in the evening, to do
some work in a field about two miles distant. I found a child, about a
year old, lying on the mat-bed, and a little girl about four years old
sitting beside it.

These children were entirely naked, and when we came to the door, the
elder rose from its place and ran to its father, and clasping him round
one of his knees, said, "Now we shall get good supper." The father laid
his hand upon the head of his naked child, and stood silently looking in
its face--which was turned upwards toward his own for a moment--and then
turning to me, said, "Did you leave any children at home?" The scene
before me--the question propounded--and the manner of this poor man and
his child, caused my heart to swell until my breast seemed too small to
contain it. My soul fled back upon the wings of fancy to my wife's lowly
dwelling in Maryland, where I had been so often met on a Saturday
evening, when I paid them my weekly visit, by my own little ones, who
clung to my knees for protection and support, even as the poor little
wretch now before me seized upon the weary limb of its hapless and
destitute father, hoping that, naked as he was, (for he too was naked,
save only the tattered remains of a pair of old trowsers,) he would
bring with his return at evening its customary scanty supper. I was
unable to reply, but stood motionless, leaning against the walls of the
cabin. My children seemed to flit by the door in the dusky twilight; and
the twittering of a swallow, which that moment fluttered over my head,
sounded in my ear as the infantile tittering of my own little boy; but
on a moment's reflection I knew that we were separated without the hope
of ever again meeting; that they no more heard the welcome tread of my
feet, and could never again receive the little gifts with which, poor as
I was, I was accustomed to present them. I was far from the place of my
nativity, in a land of strangers, with no one to care for me beyond the
care that a master bestows upon his ox; with all my future life one
long, waste, barren desert, of cheerless, hopeless, lifeless slavery; to
be varied only by the pangs of hunger and the stings of the lash.

My revery was at length broken by the appearance of the mother of the
family, with her three eldest children. The mother wore an old ragged
shift; but the children, the eldest of whom appeared to be about
twelve, and the youngest six years old, were quite naked. When she came
in, the husband told her that the overseer had sent me to live with
them; and she and her oldest child, who was a boy, immediately set about
preparing their supper, by boiling some of the leaves of the weed,
called lamb's-quarter, in the pot. This, together with some cakes of
cold corn bread, formed their supper. My supper was brought to me from
the house of the overseer by a small girl, his daughter. It was about
half a pound of bread, cut from a loaf made of corn meal. My companions
gave me a part of their boiled greens, and we all sat down together to
my first meal in my new habitation.

I had no other bed than the blanket which I had brought with me from
Maryland; and I went to sleep in the loft of the cabin which was
assigned to me as my sleeping room; and in which I continued to lodge as
long as I remained on this plantation.

The next morning I was waked, at the break of day, by the sound of a
horn, which was blown very loudly. Perceiving that it was growing light,
I came down, and went out immediately in front of the house of the
overseer, who was standing near his own gate, blowing the horn. In a few
minutes the whole of the working people, from all the cabins, were
assembled; and as it was now light enough for me distinctly to see such
objects as were about me, I at once perceived the nature of the
servitude to which I was, in future, to be subject.

As I have before stated, there were altogether on this plantation, two
hundred and sixty slaves; but the number was seldom stationary for a
single week. Births were numerous and frequent, and deaths were not
uncommon. When I joined them I believe we counted in all two hundred and
sixty-three; but of these only one hundred and seventy went to the field
to work. The others were children, too small to be of any service as
laborers; old and blind persons, or incurably diseased. Ten or twelve
were kept about the mansion-house and garden, chosen from the most
handsome and sprightly of the gang.

I think about one hundred and sixty-eight assembled this morning, at the
sound of the horn--two or three being sick, sent word to the overseer
that they could not come.

The overseer wrote something on a piece of paper, and gave it to his
little son. This I was told was a note to be sent to our master, to
inform him that some of the hands were sick--it not being any part of
the duty of the overseer to attend to a sick negro.

The overseer then led off to the field, with his horn in one hand and
his whip in the other; we following--men, women, and children,
promiscuously--and a wretched looking troop we were. There was not an
entire garment amongst us.

More than half of the gang were entirely naked. Several young girls, who
had arrived at puberty, wearing only the livery with which nature had
ornamented them, and a great number of lads, of an equal or superior
age, appeared in the same costume. There was neither bonnet, cap, nor
head dress of any kind amongst us, except the old straw hat that I wore,
and which my wife had made for me in Maryland. This I soon laid aside to
avoid the appearance of singularity, and, as owing to the severe
treatment I had endured whilst traveling in chains, and being compelled
to sleep on the naked floor, without undressing myself, my clothes were
quite worn out, I did not make a much better figure than my companions;
though still I preserved the semblance of clothing so far, that it could
be seen that my shirt and trowsers had once been distinct and separate
garments. Not one of the others had on even the remains of two pieces of
apparel.--Some of the men had old shirts, and some ragged trowsers, but
no one wore both. Amongst the women, several wore petticoats, and many
had shifts. Not one of the whole number wore both of these vestments.

We walked nearly a mile through one vast cotton field, before we arrived
at the place of our intended day's labor. At last the overseer stopped
at the side of the field, and calling to several of the men by name,
ordered them to call their companies and turn into their rows. The work
we had to do to-day was to hoe and weed cotton, for the last time; and
the men whose names had been called, and who were, I believe, eleven in
number, were designated as captains, each of whom had under his command
a certain number of the other hands. The captain was the foreman of his
company, and those under his command had to keep up with him. Each of
the men and women had to take one row; and two, and in some cases where
they were very small, three of the children had one. The first captain,
whose name was Simon, took the first row--and the other captains were
compelled to keep up with him. By this means the overseer had nothing to
do but to keep Simon hard at work, and he was certain that all the
others must work equally hard.

Simon was a stout, strong man, apparently about thirty-five years of
age; and for some reason unknown to me, I was ordered to take a row next
to his. The overseer with his whip in his hand walked about the field
after us, to see that our work was well done. As we worked with hoes, I
had no difficulty in learning how the work was to be performed.

The fields of cotton at this season of the year are very beautiful. The
plants, among which we worked this day, were about three feet high, and
in full bloom, with branches so numerous that they nearly covered the
whole ground--leaving scarcely space enough between them to permit us to
move about, and work with our hoes.

About seven o'clock in the morning the overseer sounded his horn; and we
all repaired to the shade of some persimmon trees, which grew in a
corner of the field, to get our breakfast. I here saw a cart drawn by a
yoke of oxen, driven by an old black man, nearly blind. The cart
contained three barrels, filled with water, and several large baskets
full of corn bread that had been baked in the ashes. The water was for
us to drink, and the bread was our breakfast. The little son of the
overseer was also in the cart, and had brought with him the breakfast of
his father, in a small wooden bucket.

The overseer had bread, butter, cold ham, and coffee for his breakfast.
Ours was composed of a corn cake, weighing about three-quarters of a
pound, to each person, with as much water as was desired. I at first
supposed that this bread was dealt out to the people as their allowance;
but on further inquiry I found this not to be the case. Simon, by whose
side I was now at work, and who seemed much pleased with my agility and
diligence in my duty, told me that here, as well as every where in this
country, each person received a peck of corn at the crib door, every
Sunday evening, and that in ordinary times, every one had to grind this
corn and bake it, for him or herself, making such use of it as the owner
thought proper; but that for some time past, the overseer, for the
purpose of saving the time which had been lost in baking the bread, had
made it the duty of an old woman, who was not capable of doing much work
in the field, to stay at the quarter, and bake the bread of the whole
gang. When baked, it was brought to the field in a cart, as I saw, and
dealt out in loaves.

They still had to grind their own corn, after night; and as there were
only three hand-mills on the plantation, he said they experienced much
difficulty in converting their corn into meal. We worked in this field
all day; and at the end of every hour, or hour and a quarter, we had
permission to go to the cart, which was moved about the field, so as to
be near us, and get water.

Our dinner was the same, in all respects, as our breakfast, except that,
in addition to the bread, we had a little salt, and a radish for each
person. We were not allowed to rest at either breakfast or dinner,
longer than while we were eating; and we worked in the evening as long
as we could distinguish the weeds from the cotton plants.

Simon informed me, that formerly, when they baked their own bread, they
had left their work soon after sundown, to go home and bake for the next
day, but the overseer had adopted the new policy for the purpose of
keeping them at work until dark.

When we could no longer see to work, the horn was again sounded, and we
returned home. I had now lived through one of the days--a succession of
which make up the life of a slave--on a cotton plantation.

As we went out in the morning, I observed several women, who carried
their young children in their arms to the field. These mothers laid
their children at the side of the fence, or under the shade of the
cotton plants, whilst they were at work; and when the rest of us went to
get water, they would go to give suck to their children, requesting some
one to bring them water in gourds, which they were careful to carry to
the field with them. One young woman did not, like the others, leave her
child at the end of the row, but had contrived a sort of rude knapsack,
made of a piece of coarse linen cloth, in which she fastened her child,
which was very young, upon her back; and in this way carried it all day,
and performed her task at the hoe with the other people. I pitied her,
and as we were going home at night escorted her and learned her history.
She had been brought up a lady's-maid, and knew little of hardship until
she was sold South by a dissipated master. On this plantation she was
obliged to marry a man she did not like, and was often severely whipped
because she could not do as much work as the rest. I was affected by
her story, and the overseer's horn interrupted our conversation, at
hearing which she exclaimed, "We are too late, let us run, or we shall
be whipped," and setting off as fast as she could run, she left me
alone. I quickened my pace, and arrived in the crowd a moment before
her.



CHAPTER VII.


The overseer was calling over the names of the whole from a little book,
and the first name I heard was that of my companion--Lydia. As she did
not answer, I said, "Master, the woman that carries her baby on her back
will be here in a minute." He paid no attention to what I said, but went
on with his call. As the people answered to their names, they passed off
to the cabins, except three, two women and a man; who, when their names
were called, were ordered to go into the yard, in front of the
overseer's house. My name was the last on the list, and when it was
called I was ordered into the yard with the three others. Just as we had
entered, Lydia came up out of breath, with the child in her arms; and
following us into the yard, dropped on her knees before the overseer,
and begged him to forgive her. "Where have you been?" said he. Poor
Lydia now burst into tears, and said, "I only stopped to talk awhile to
this man," pointing to me; "but indeed, master overseer, I will never do
so again." "Lie down," was his reply. Lydia immediately fell prostrate
upon the ground; and in this position he compelled her to remove her old
tow linen shift, the only garment she wore, so as to expose her hips,
when he gave her ten lashes, with his long whip, every touch of which
brought blood, and a shriek from the sufferer. He then ordered her to go
and get her supper, with an injunction never to stay behind again.--The
other three culprits were then put upon their trial.

The first was a middle aged woman, who had, as her overseer said, left
several hills of cotton in the course of the day, without cleaning and
hilling them in a proper manner. She received twelve lashes. The other
two were charged in general terms, with having been lazy, and of having
neglected their work that day. Each of these received twelve lashes.

These people all received punishment in the same manner that it had been
inflicted upon Lydia, and when they were all gone the overseer turned to
me and said--"Boy, you are a stranger here yet, but I called you in to
let you see how things are done here, and to give you a little advice.
When I get a new negro under my command, I never whip at first; I always
give him a few days to learn his duty, unless he is an outrageous
villain, in which case I anoint him a little at the beginning. I call
over the names of all the hands twice every week, on Wednesday and
Saturday evenings, and settle with them according to their general
conduct for the last three days. I call the names of my captains every
morning, and it is their business to see that they have all their hands
in their proper places. You ought not to have staid behind to-night with
Lyd; but as this is your first offence, I shall overlook it, and you may
go and get your supper." I made a low bow, and thanked master overseer
for his kindness to me, and left him. This night for supper we had corn
bread and cucumbers; but we had neither salt, vinegar, nor pepper with
the cucumbers.

I had never before seen people flogged in the way our overseer flogged
his people. This plan of making the person who is to be whipped lie down
upon the ground, was new to me, though it is much practiced in the
South; and I have since seen men, and women too, cut nearly in pieces by
this mode of punishment. It has one advantage over tying people up by
the hands, as it prevents all accidents from sprains in the thumbs or
wrists.

On Monday morning I heard the sound of the horn at the usual hour, and
repairing to the front of the overseer's house, found that he had
already gone to the corn crib, for the purpose of distributing corn
among the people, for the bread of the week; or rather for the week's
subsistence, for this corn was all the provision that our master, or his
overseer, usually made for us; I say usually, for whatever was given to
us beyond the corn, which we received on Sunday evening, was considered
in the light of a bounty bestowed upon us, over and beyond what we were
entitled to, or had a right to expect to receive.

When I arrived at the crib, the door was unlocked and open, and the
distribution had already commenced. Each person was entitled to half a
bushel of ears of corn, which was measured out by several of the men who
were in the crib. Every child above six months old drew this weekly
allowance of corn; and in this way, women who had several small
children, had more corn than they could consume, and sometimes bartered
small quantities with the other people for such things as they needed,
and were not able to procure.

The people received their corn in baskets, old bags, or any thing with
which they could most conveniently provide themselves. I had not been
able, since I came here, to procure a basket, or any thing else to put
my corn in, and desired the man with whom I lived to take my portion in
his basket, with that of his family. This he readily agreed to do, and
as soon as we had received our share we left the crib.

The overseer attended in person to the measuring of this corn; and it is
only justice to him to say that he was careful to see that justice was
done us. The men who measured the corn always heaped the measure as
long as an ear would lie on; and he never restrained their generosity to
their fellow-slaves.

In addition to this allowance of corn, we received a weekly allowance of
salt, amounting in general to about half a gill to each person; but this
article was not furnished regularly, and sometimes we received none for
two or three weeks.

The reader must not suppose, that, on this plantation, we had nothing to
eat beyond the corn and salt. This was far from the case. I have already
described the gardens, or patches, cultivated by the people, and the
practice which they universally followed of working on Sunday, for
wages. In addition to all these, an industrious, managing slave would
contrive to gather up a great deal to eat.

I have observed, that the planters are careful of the health of their
slaves, and in pursuance of this rule, they seldom expose them to rainy
weather, especially in the sickly seasons of the year, if it can be
avoided.

In the spring and early parts of the summer, the rains are frequently so
violent, and the ground becomes so wet, that it is injurious to the
cotton to work it, at least whilst it rains. In the course of the year
there are many of these rainy days, in which the people cannot go to
work with safety; and it often happens that there is nothing for them to
do in the house. At such time they make baskets, brooms, horse collars,
and other things, which they are able to sell amongst the planters.

The baskets are made of wooden splits, and the brooms of young white oak
or hickory trees. The mats are sometimes made of splits, but more
frequently of flags, as they are called--a kind of tall rush, which
grows in swampy ground. The horse or mule collars are made of husks of
corn, though sometimes of rushes, but the latter are not very durable.

The money procured by these, and various other means, which I shall
explain hereafter, is laid out by the slaves in purchasing such little
articles of necessity or luxury, as it enables them to procure. A part
is disbursed in payment for sugar, molasses, and sometimes a few pounds
of coffee, for the use of the family; another part is laid out for
clothes for winter; and no inconsiderable portion of his pittance is
squandered away by the misguided slave for tobacco, and an occasional
bottle of rum. Tobacco is deemed so indispensable to comfort, nay to
existence, that hunger and nakedness are patiently endured, to enable
the slave to indulge in this highest of enjoyments.

There being few towns in the cotton country, the shops, or stores, are
frequently kept at some cross road, or other public place, in or
adjacent to a rich district of plantations. To these shops the slaves
resort, sometimes with, and at other times without, the consent of the
overseer, for the purpose of laying out the little money they get.
Notwithstanding all the vigilance that is exercised by the planters, the
slaves, who are no less vigilant than their masters, often leave the
plantation after the overseer has retired to his bed, and go to the
store.

The store-keepers are always ready to accommodate the slaves, who are
frequently better customers than many white people; because the former
always pay cash, whilst the latter almost always require credit. In
dealing with the slave, the shop-keeper knows he can demand whatever
price he pleases for his goods, without danger of being charged with
extortion; and he is ready to rise at any time of the night to oblige
friends, who are of so much value to him.

It is held highly disgraceful, on the part of store-keepers, to deal
with the slaves for any thing but money, or the coarse fabrics that it
is known are the usual products of the ingenuity and industry of the
negroes; but, notwithstanding this, a considerable traffic is carried on
between the shop-keepers and slaves, in which the latter make their
payments by barter. The utmost caution and severity of masters and
overseers, are sometimes insufficient to repress the cunning
contrivances of the slaves.

After we had received our corn, we deposited it in our several houses,
and immediately followed the overseer to the same cotton field, in
which we had been at work on Sunday. Our breakfast this morning was
bread, to which was added a large basket of apples, from the orchard of
our master. These apples served us for a relish with our bread, both for
breakfast and dinner, and when I returned to the quarter in the evening,
Dinah (the name of the woman who was at the head of our family) produced
at supper, a black jug, containing molasses, and gave me some of the
molasses for my supper.

I felt grateful to Dinah for this act of kindness, as I well knew that
her children regarded molasses as the greatest of human luxuries, and
that she was depriving them of their highest enjoyment to afford me the
means of making a gourd full of molasses and water. I therefore proposed
to her and her husband, whose name was Nero, that whilst I should remain
a member of the family, I would contribute as much towards its support
as Nero himself; or, at least, that I would bring all my earnings into
the family stock, provided I might be treated as one of its members, and
be allowed a portion of the proceeds of their patch of garden. This
offer was very readily accepted, and from this time we constituted one
community, as long as I remained among the field hands on this
plantation. After supper was over, we had to grind our corn; but as we
had to wait for our turn at the mill, we did not get through this
indispensable operation before one o'clock in the morning. We did not
sit up all night to wait for our turn at the mill, but as our several
turns were assigned us by lot, the person who had the first turn, when
done with the mill, gave notice to the one entitled to the second, and
so on. By this means nobody lost more than half an hour's sleep, and in
the morning every one's grinding was done.

We worked very hard this week. We were now laying by the cotton, as it
is termed; that is, we were giving the last weeding and hilling to the
crop, of which there was, on this plantation, about five hundred acres,
which looked well, and promised to yield a fine picking.

In addition to the cotton, there was on this plantation one hundred
acres of corn, about ten acres of indigo, ten or twelve acres in sweet
potatoes, and a rice swamp of about fifty acres. The potatoes and indigo
had been laid by, (that is, the season of working in them was past,)
before I came upon the estate; and we were driven hard by the overseer
to get done with the cotton, to be ready to give the corn another
harrowing and hoeing, before the season should be too far advanced. Most
of the corn in this part of the country, was already laid by, but the
crop here had been planted late, and yet required to be worked.

We were supplied with an abundance of bread, for a peck of corn is as
much as a man can consume in a week, if he has other vegetables with it;
but we were obliged to provide ourselves with the other articles,
necessary for our subsistence. Nero had corn in his patch, which was now
hard enough to be fit for boiling, and my friend Lydia had beans in her
garden. We exchanged corn for beans, and had a good supply of both; but
these delicacies we were obliged to reserve for supper. We took our
breakfast in the field, from the cart, which seldom afforded us any
thing better than bread, and some raw vegetables from the garden.
Nothing of moment occurred amongst us, in this first week of my
residence here. On Wednesday evening, called settlement-night, two men
and a woman were whipped; but circumstances of this kind were so common,
that I shall, in future, not mention them, unless something
extraordinary attended them.

I could make wooden bowls and ladles, and went to work with a man who
was clearing some new land about two miles off--on the second Sunday of
my sojourn here--and applied the money I earned in purchasing the tools
necessary to enable me to carry on my trade. I occupied all my leisure
hours, for several months after this, in making wooden trays, and such
other wooden vessels as were most in demand. These I traded off, in
part, to a store-keeper, who lived about five miles from the plantation;
and for some of my work I obtained money. Before Christmas, I had sold
more than thirty dollars worth of my manufactures; but the merchant with
whom I traded, charged such high prices for his goods, that I was poorly
compensated for my Sunday toils, and nightly labors; nevertheless, by
these means, I was able to keep our family supplied with molasses, and
some other luxuries, and at the approach of winter, I purchased three
coarse blankets, to which Nero added as many, and we had all these made
up into blanket-coats for Dinah, ourselves, and the children.

About ten days after my arrival, we had a great feast at the quarter.
One night, after we had returned from the field, the overseer sent for
me by his little son, and when I came to his house, he asked me if I
understood the trade of a butcher--I told him I was not a butcher by
trade, but that I had often assisted my master and others to kill hogs
and cattle, and that I could dress a hog, or a bullock, as well as most
people. He then told me he was going to have a beef killed in the
morning at the great house, and I must do it--that he would not spare
any of the hands to go with me, but he would get one of the house-boys
to help me.

When the morning came, I went, according to orders, to butcher the beef,
which I expected to find in some enclosure on the plantation; but the
overseer told me I must take a boy named Toney from the house, whose
business it was to take care of the cattle, and go to the woods and look
for the beef. Toney and I set out sometime before sunrise, and went to a
cow-pen, about a mile from the house, where he said he had seen the
young cattle only a day or two before. At this cow-pen, we saw several
cows waiting to be milked, I suppose, for their calves were in an
adjoining field, and separated from them only by a fence. Toney then
said, we should have to go to the long savanna, where the dry cattle
generally ranged, and thither we set off.--This long savanna lay at the
distance of three miles from the cow-pen, and when we reached it, I
found it to be literally what it was called, a long savanna. It was a
piece of low, swampy ground, several miles in extent, with an open space
in the interior part of it, about a mile long, and perhaps a quarter of
a mile in width. It was manifest that this open space was covered with
water through the greater part of the year, which prevented the growth
of timber in this place; though at the time it was dry, except a pond
near one end, which covered, perhaps, an acre of ground. In this natural
meadow every kind of wild grass, common to such places in the southern
country, abounded.

Here I first saw the scrub and saw grasses--the first of which is so
hard and rough, that it is gathered to scrub coarse wooden furniture, or
even pewter; and the last is provided with edges, somewhat like saw
teeth, so hard and sharp that it would soon tear the skin off the legs
of any one who should venture to walk through it with bare limbs.

As we entered this savanna, we were enveloped in clouds of musquitos,
and swarms of galinippers, that threatened to devour us. As we advanced
through the grass, they rose up until the air was thick, and actually
darkened with them. They rushed upon us with the fury of yellow-jackets,
whose hive has been broken in upon, and covered every part of our
persons. The clothes I had on, which were nothing but a shirt and
trowsers of tow linen, afforded no protection even against the
musquitos, which were much larger than those found along the Chesapeake
Bay; and nothing short of a covering of leather could have defended me
against the galinippers.

I was pierced by a thousand stings at a time, and verily believe I could
not have lived beyond a few hours in this place. Toney ran into the
pond, and rolled himself in the water to get rid of his persecutors; but
he had not been long there before he came running out, as fast as he had
gone in, hallooing and clamoring in a manner wholly unintelligible to
me. He was terribly frightened; but I could not imagine what could be
the cause of his alarm, until he reached the shore, when he turned round
with his face to the water, and called out--"the biggest alligator in
the whole world--did not you see him?" I told him I had not seen
anything but himself in the water; but he insisted that he had been
chased in the pond by an alligator, which had followed him until he was
close in the shore. We waited a few minutes for the alligator to rise to
the surface, but were soon compelled by the musquitos, to quit this
place.

Toney said, we need not look for the cattle here; no cattle could live
amongst these musquitos, and I thought he was right in his judgment. We
then proceeded into the woods and thickets, and after wandering about
for an hour or more, we found the cattle, and after much difficulty
succeeded in driving a part of them back to the cow-pen, and enclosing
them in it. I here selected the one that appeared to me to be the
fattest, and securing it with ropes, we drove the animal to the place of
slaughter.

This beef was intended as a feast for the slaves, at the laying by of
the corn and cotton; and when I had it hung up, and had taken the hide
off, my young master, whom I had seen on the day of my arrival, came out
to me, and ordered me to cut off the head, neck, legs, and tail, and lay
them, together with the empty stomach and the harslet, in a basket. This
basket was sent home, to the kitchen of the great house, by a woman and
a boy, who attended for that purpose. I think there was at least one
hundred and twenty or thirty pounds of this offal. The residue of the
carcass I cut into four quarters, and we carried it to the cellar of the
great house. Here one of the hind quarters was salted in a tub, for the
use of the family, and the other was sent, as a present, to a planter,
who lived about four miles distant. The two fore-quarters were cut into
very small pieces, and salted by themselves.--These, I was told, would
be cooked for our dinner on the next day (Sunday) when there was to be a
general rejoicing among all the slaves of the plantation.

After the beef was salted down, I received some bread and milk for my
breakfast, and went to join the hands in the corn field, where they were
now harrowing and hoeing the crop for the last time. The overseer had
promised us that we should have holiday after the completion of this
work, and by great exertion, we finished it about five o'clock in the
afternoon.

On our return to the quarter, the overseer, at roll-call--which he
performed this day before night--told us that every family must send a
bowl to the great house, to get our dinners of meat. This intelligence
diffused as much joy amongst us, as if each one had drawn a prize in a
lottery. At the assurance of a meat dinner, the old people smiled and
showed their teeth, and returned thanks to master overseer; but many of
the younger ones shouted, clapped their hands, leaped, and ran about
with delight.

Each family, or mess, now sent its deputy, with a large wooden bowl in
his hand, to receive the dinner at the great kitchen. I went on the part
of our family, and found that the meat dinner of this day was made up of
the basket of tripe, and other offal, that I had prepared in the
morning. The whole had been boiled in four great iron kettles, until the
flesh had disappeared from the bones, which were broken in small
pieces--a flitch of bacon, some green corn, squashes, tomatos, and
onions had been added, together with other condiments, and the whole
converted into about a hundred gallons of soup, of which I received in
my bowl, for the use of our family, more than two gallons. We had plenty
of bread, and a supply of black-eyed peas, gathered from our garden,
some of which Dinah had boiled in our kettle, whilst I was gone for the
soup, of which there was as much as we could consume, and I believe that
every one in the quarter had enough.

I doubt if there was in the world a happier assemblage than ours, on
this Saturday evening. We had finished one of the grand divisions of the
labors of a cotton plantation, and were supplied with a dinner, which to
the most of my fellow slaves appeared to be a great luxury, and most
liberal donation on the part of our master, whom they regarded with
sentiments of gratitude for this manifestation of his bounty.

In addition to present gratification, they looked forward to the
enjoyments of the next day, when they were to spend a whole Sunday in
rest and banqueting; for it was known that the two fore-quarters of the
bullock were to be dressed for Sunday's dinner, and I had told them that
each of these quarters weighed at least one hundred pounds.

Our quarter knew but little quiet this night; singing, playing on the
banjo, and dancing, occupied nearly the whole community, until the break
of day. Those who were too old to take any part in our active pleasures,
beat time with their hands, or recited stories of former times. Most of
these stories referred to affairs that had been transacted in Africa,
and were sufficiently fraught with demons, miracles, and murders, to fix
the attention of many hearers.

To add to our happiness, the early peaches were now ripe, and the
overseer permitted us to send, on Sunday morning, to the orchard, and
gather at least ten bushels of very fine fruit.

In South Carolina they have very good summer apples, but they fall from
the trees, and rot immediately after they are ripe; Indeed, very often
they speck-rot on the trees, before they become ripe. This "speck-rot,"
as it is termed, appears to be a kind of epidemic disease amongst
apples; for in some seasons whole orchards are subject to it, and the
fruit is totally worthless, whilst in other years, the fruit in the
same orchard continues sound and good, until it is ripe. The climate of
Carolina is, however, not favorable to the apple, and this fruit of so
much value in the north, is in the cotton region only of a few weeks
continuance--winter apples being unknown. Every climate is congenial to
the growth of some kind of fruit tree; and in Carolina and Georgia, the
peach arrives at its utmost perfection; the fig also ripens well, and is
a delicious fruit.

None of our people went out to work for wages, to-day. Some few devoted
a part of the morning to such work as they deemed necessary in or about
their patches, and some went to the woods, or the swamps, to collect
sticks for brooms, and splits, or to gather flags for mats; but far the
greater number remained at the quarter, occupied in some small work, or
quietly awaiting the hour of dinner, which we had been informed, by one
of the house-servants, would be at one o'clock. Every family made ready
some preparation of vegetables, from their own garden, to enlarge the
quantity, if not to heighten the flavor of the dinner of this day.

One o'clock at length arrived, but not before it had been long desired;
and we proceeded with our bowls a second time, to the great kitchen. I
acted, as I had done yesterday, the part of commissary for our family;
but when we were already at the place where we were to receive our soup
and meat into our bowls, (for it was understood that we were, with the
soup, to have an allowance of both beef and bacon to-day,) we were told
that puddings had been boiled for us, and that we must bring dishes to
receive them in. This occasioned some delay, until we obtained vessels
from the quarter. In addition to at least two gallons of soup, about a
pound of beef, and a small piece of bacon, I obtained nearly two pounds
of pudding, made of corn meal, mixed with lard, and boiled in large
bags. This pudding, with the molasses that we had at home, formed a very
palatable second course to our bread, soup, and vegetables.

On Sunday afternoon, we had a meeting, at which many of our party
attended. A man named Jacob, who had come from Virginia, sang and
prayed; but a great many of the people went out about the plantation, in
search of fruits; for there were many peach and some fig trees, standing
along the fences, on various parts of the estate. With us, this was a
day of uninterrupted happiness.

A man cannot well be miserable when he sees every one about him immersed
in pleasure; and though our fare of to-day was not of a quality to yield
me much gratification, yet such was the impulse given to my feelings, by
the universal hilarity and contentment which prevailed amongst my
fellows, that I forgot for the time all the subjects of grief that were
stored in my memory, all the acts of wrong that had been perpetrated
against me, and entered with the most sincere and earnest sentiments in
the participation of the felicity of our community.



CHAPTER VIII.


At the time of which I now speak, the rice was ripe, and ready to be
gathered. On Monday morning, after our feast, the overseer took the
whole of us to the rice field, to enter upon the harvest of this crop.
The field lay in a piece of low ground, near the river, and in such a
position that it could be flooded by the water of the stream, in wet
seasons. The rice is planted in drills, or rows, and grows more like
oats than any of the other grain known in the north.

The water is sometimes let in to the rice fields, and drawn off again,
several times, according to the state of the weather. Watering and
weeding the rice is considered one of the most unhealthy occupations on
a southern plantation, as the people are obliged to live for several
weeks in the mud and water, subject to all the unwholesome vapors that
arise from stagnant pools, under the rays of a summer sun, as well as
the chilly autumnal dews of night. At the time we came to cut this rice,
the field was quite dry; and after we had reaped and bound it, we
hauled it upon wagons, to a piece of hard ground, where we made a
threshing floor, and threshed it. In some places, they tread out the
rice, with mules or horses, as they tread wheat in Maryland; but this
renders the grain dusty, and is injurious to its sale.

After getting in the rice, we were occupied for some time in clearing
and ditching swampy land, preparatory to a more extended culture of rice
the next year; and about the first of August, twenty or thirty of the
people, principally women and children, were employed for two weeks in
making cider, of apples which grew in an orchard of nearly two hundred
trees, that stood on a part of the estate. After the cider was made, a
barrel of it was one day brought to the field, and distributed amongst
us; but this gratuity was not repeated. The cider that was made by the
people was converted into brandy, at a still in the corner of the
orchard.

I often obtained cider to drink, at the still, which was sheltered from
the weather by a shed, of boards and slabs. We were not permitted to go
into the orchard at pleasure; but as long as the apples continued, we
were allowed the privilege of sending five or six persons every evening,
for the purpose of bringing apples to the quarter, for our common use;
and by taking large baskets, and filling them well, we generally
contrived to get as many as we could consume.

When the peaches ripened, they were guarded with more rigor--peach
brandy being an article which is nowhere more highly prized than in
South Carolina. There were on the plantation more than a thousand peach
trees, growing on poor sandy fields, which were no longer worth the
expense of cultivation. The best peaches grow upon the poorest
sand-hills.

We were allowed to take three bushels of peaches every day, for the use
of the quarter; but we could, and did eat at least three times that
quantity, for we stole at night that which was not given us by day. I
confess that I took part in these thefts, and I do not feel that I
committed any wrong, against either God or man, by my participation in
the common danger that we ran, for we well knew the consequences that
would have followed detection.

After the feast at laying by the corn and cotton, we had no meat for
several weeks; and it is my opinion that our master lost money by the
economy he practised at this season of the year.

I now entered upon a new scene of life. My true value had not yet been
ascertained by my present owner; and whether I was to hold the rank of a
first or second rate hand, could only be determined by an experience of
my ability to pick cotton.

I had ascertained that at the hoe, the spade, the sickle, or the flail,
I was a full match for the best hands on the plantation; but soon
discovered when we came to cotton picking I was not equal to a boy of
fifteen. I worked hard the first day, but when evening came, and our
cotton was weighed, I had only thirty-eight pounds, and was vexed to see
that two young men, about my own age, had, one fifty-eight, and the
other fifty-nine pounds. This was our first day's work, and the overseer
had not yet settled the amount of a day's picking. It was necessary for
him to ascertain, by the experience of a few days, how much the best
hands could pick in a day, before he established the standard of the
season. I hung down my head, and felt very much ashamed of myself when I
found that my cotton was so far behind that of many, even of the women,
who had heretofore regarded me as the strongest and most powerful man of
the whole gang.

I had exerted myself to-day to the utmost of my power; and as the
picking of cotton seemed to be so very simple a business, I felt
apprehensive that I should never be able to improve myself, so far as to
become even a second rate hand. In this posture of affairs, I looked
forward to something still more painful than the loss of character which
I must sustain, both with my fellows and my master; for I knew that the
lash of the overseer would soon become familiar with my back, if I did
not perform as much work as any of the other young men.

I expected indeed that it would go hard with me even now, and stood by
with feelings of despondence and terror, whilst the other people were
getting their cotton weighed. When it was all weighed, the overseer came
to me where I stood, and told me to show him my hands. When I had done
this, and he had looked at them, he observed--"You have a pair of good
hands--you will make a good picker." This faint praise of the overseer
revived my spirits greatly, and I went home with a lighter heart than I
had expected to possess, before the termination of cotton-picking.

When I came to get my cotton weighed, on the evening of the second day,
I was rejoiced to find that I had forty-six pounds, although I had not
worked harder than I did the first day. On the third evening I had
fifty-two pounds; and before the end of the week, there were only three
hands in the field--two men and a young woman--who could pick more
cotton in a day than I could.

On the Monday morning of the second week, when we went to the field, the
overseer told us that he fixed the day's work at fifty pounds; and that
all those who picked more than that, would be paid a cent a pound for
the overplus. Twenty-five pounds was assigned as the daily task of the
old people, as well as a number of boys and girls, whilst some of the
women, who had children, were required to pick forty pounds, and several
children had ten pounds each as their task.

Picking of cotton may almost be reckoned among the arts. A man who has
arrived at the age of twenty-five before he sees a cotton field, will
never, in the language of the overseer, become _a crack picker_.

By great industry and vigilance, I was able, at the end of a month, to
return every evening a few pounds over the daily rate, for which I
received my pay; but the business of picking cotton was a fatiguing
labor to me, and one to which I never became reconciled, for the reason
that in every other kind of work I was called a first rate hand, whilst
in cotton picking I was hardly regarded as a _prime hand_.



CHAPTER IX.


It is impossible to reconcile the mind of the native slave to the idea
of living in a state of perfect equality, and boundless affection, with
the white people. Heaven will be no heaven to him, if he is not to be
avenged of his enemies. I know, from experience, that these are the
fundamental rules of his religious creed; because I learned them in the
religious meetings of the slaves themselves. A favorite and kind master
or mistress, may now and then be admitted into heaven, but this rather
as a matter of favor, to the intercession of some slave, than as matter
of strict justice to the whites, who will, by no means, be of an equal
rank with those who shall be raised from the depths of misery, in this
world.

The idea of a revolution in the conditions of the whites and the blacks,
is the corner-stone of the religion of the latter; and indeed, it seems
to me, at least, to be quite natural, if not in strict accordance with
the precepts of the Bible; for in that book I find it every where laid
down, that those who have possessed an inordinate portion of the good
things of this world, and have lived in ease and luxury, at the expense
of their fellow men will surely have to render an account of their
stewardship, and be punished, for having withheld from others the
participation of those blessings, which they themselves enjoyed.

There is no subject which presents to the mind of the male slave a
greater contrast between his own condition and that of his master, than
the relative station and appearance of his wife and his mistress. The
one, poorly clad, poorly fed, and exposed to all the hardships of the
cotton field; the other dressed in clothes of gay and various colors,
ornamented with jewelry, and carefully protected from the rays of the
sun, and the blasts of the wind.

As I have before observed, the Africans have feelings peculiar to
themselves; but with an American slave, the possession of the spacious
house, splendid furniture, and fine horses of his master, are but the
secondary objects of his desires. To fill the measure of his happiness,
and crown his highest ambition, his young and beautiful mistress must
adorn his triumph, and enliven his hopes.

I have been drawn into the above reflections, by the recollection of an
event of a most melancholy character, which took place when I had been
on this plantation about three months. Amongst the house-servants of my
master, was a young man, named Hardy, of a dark yellow complexion--a
quadroon, or mulatto--one-fourth of whose blood was transmitted from
white parentage.

Hardy was employed in various kinds of work about the house, and was
frequently sent on errands; sometimes on horseback. I had become
acquainted with the boy, who had often come to see me at the quarter,
and had sometimes staid all night with me, and often told me of the
ladies and gentlemen who visited at the great house.

Amongst others, he frequently spoke of a young lady, who resided six or
seven miles from the plantation, and often came to visit the daughters
of the family, in company with her brother, a lad about twelve or
fourteen years of age. He described the great beauty of this girl, whose
mother was a widow, living on a small estate of her own. This lady did
not keep a carriage; but her son and daughter, when they went abroad,
traveled on horseback.

One Sunday, these two young people came to visit at the house of my
master, and remained until after tea in the evening. As I did not go out
to work that day, I went over to the great house, and from the house to
a place in the woods, about a mile distant, where I had set snares for
rabbits. This place was near the road, and I saw the young lady and her
brother on their way home. It was after sundown when they passed me;
but, as the evening was clear and pleasant, I supposed they would get
home soon after dark, and that no accident would befall them.

No more was thought of the matter this evening, and I heard nothing
further of the young people until the next day, about noon, when a black
boy came into the field, where we were picking cotton, and went to the
overseer with a piece of paper. In a short time the overseer called me
to come with him; and, leaving the field with the hands under the orders
of Simon, the first captain, we proceeded to the great house.

As soon as we arrived at the mansion, my master, who had not spoken to
me since the day we came from Columbia, appeared at the front door, and
ordered me to come in and follow him. He led me through a part of the
house, and passed into the back yard, where I saw the young gentleman,
his son, another gentleman whom I did not know, the family doctor, and
the overseer, all standing together, and in earnest conversation. At my
appearance, the overseer opened a cellar door, and ordered me to go in.
I had no suspicion of evil, and obeyed the order immediately: as,
indeed, I must have obeyed it, whatever might have been my suspicions.

The overseer, and the gentlemen, all followed; and as soon as the cellar
door was closed after us, by some one whom I could not see, I was
ordered to pull off my clothes, and lie down on my back. I was then
bound by the hands and feet, with strong cords, and extended at full
length between two of the beams that supported the timbers of the
building.

The stranger, who I now observed was much agitated, spoke to the doctor,
who then opened a small case of surgeons' instruments, which he took
from his pocket, and told me he was going to skin me for what I had done
last night: "But," said the doctor, "before you are skinned, you had
better confess your crime." "What crime, master, shall I confess? I have
committed no crime--what has been done, that you are going to murder
me?" was my reply. My master then asked me why I had followed the young
lady and her brother, who went from the house the evening before, and
murdered her? Astonished and terrified at the charge of being a
murderer, I knew not what to say; and only continued the protestations
of my innocence, and my entreaties not to be put to death. My young
master was greatly enraged against me, and loaded me with maledictions
and imprecations; and his father appeared to be as well satisfied as he
was of my guilt, but was more calm, and less vociferous in his language.

The doctor, during this time, was assorting his instruments, and looking
at me--then stooping down, and feeling my pulse, he said, it would not
do to skin a man so full of blood as I was. I should bleed so much that
he could not see to do his work; and he should probably cut some large
vein, or artery, by which I should bleed to death in a few minutes; it
was necessary to bleed me in the arms for some time, so as to reduce the
quantity of blood that was in me, before taking my skin off. He then
bound a string round my right arm, and opened a vein near the middle of
the arm, from which the blood ran in a large and smooth stream. I
already began to feel faint, with the loss of blood, when the cellar
door was thrown open, and several persons came down, with two lighted
candles.

I looked at these people attentively, as they came near and stood around
me, and expressed their satisfaction at the just and dreadful punishment
that I was about to undergo. Their faces were all new and unknown to me,
except that of a lad, whom I recognized as the same who had ridden by
me, the preceding evening, in company with his sister.

My old master spoke to this boy by name, and told him to come and see
the murderer of his sister receive his due. The boy was a pretty youth,
and wore his hair long, on the top of his head, in the fashion of that
day. As he came round near my head, the light of a candle, which the
doctor held in his hand, shone full in my face, and seeing that the
eyes of the boy met mine, I determined to make one more effort to save
my life, and said to him, in as calm a tone as I could, "Young master,
did I murder young mistress, your sister?" The youth immediately looked
at my master, and said, "This is not the man--this man has short wool,
and he had long wool, like your Hardy."

My life was saved. I was snatched from the most horrible of tortures,
and from a slow and painful death. I was unbound, the bleeding of my arm
stopped, and I was suffered to put on my clothes, and go up into the
back yard of the house, where I was required to tell what I knew of the
young lady and her brother on the previous day. I stated that I had seen
them in the court yard of the house, at the time I was in the kitchen;
that I had then gone to the woods, to set my snares, and had seen them
pass along the road near me, and that this was all the knowledge I had
of them. The boy was then required to examine me particularly, and
ascertain whether I was, or was not, the man who had murdered his
sister. He said he had not seen me at the place where I stated I was,
and that he was confident I was not the person who had attacked him and
his sister. That my hair, or wool, as he called it, was short; but that
of the man who committed the crime was long, like Hardy's, and that he
was about the size of Hardy--not so large as I was, but black like me,
and not yellow like Hardy. Some one now asked where Hardy was, and he
was called for, but could not be found in the kitchen. Persons were sent
to the quarter, and other places, in quest of him, but returned without
him. Hardy was nowhere to be found. Whilst this inquiry, or rather
search, was going on, perceiving that my old master had ceased to look
upon me as a murderer, I asked him to please to tell me what had
happened, that had been so near proving fatal to me.

I was now informed that the young lady, who had left the house on the
previous evening in company with her brother, had been assailed on the
road, about four miles off, by a black man, who had sprung from a
thicket, and snatched her from her horse, as she was riding a short
distance behind her brother. That the assassin, as soon as she was on
the ground, struck her horse a blow with a long stick, which, together
with the fright caused by the screams of its rider when torn from it,
had caused it to fly off at full speed; and the horse of the brother
also taking fright, followed in pursuit, notwithstanding all the
exertions of the lad to stop it. All the account the brother could give
of the matter was, that as his horse ran with him, he saw the negro drag
his sister into the woods, and heard her screams for a short time. He
was not able to stop his horse, until he reached home, when he gave
information to his mother and her family. That people had been scouring
the woods all night, and all the morning, without being able to find the
young lady.

When intelligence of this horrid crime was brought to the house of my
master, Hardy was the first to receive it; he having gone to take the
horse of the person--a young gentleman of the neighborhood--who bore it,
and who immediately returned to join his friends in their search for the
dead body.

As soon as the messenger was gone, Hardy had come to my master, and told
him that if he would prevent me from murdering him, he would disclose
the perpetrator of the crime. He was then ordered to communicate all he
knew on the subject; and declared that, having gone into the woods the
day before, to hunt squirrels, he staid until it was late, and on his
return home, hearing the shrieks of a woman, he had proceeded cautiously
to the place; but before he could arrive at the spot, the cries had
ceased; nevertheless, he had found me, after some search, with the body
of the young lady, whom I had just killed, and that I was about to kill
him too, with a hickory club, but he had saved his life by promising
that he would never betray me. He was glad to leave me, and what I had
done with the body he did not know.

Hardy was known in the neighborhood, and his character had been good. I
was a stranger, and on inquiry, the black people in the kitchen
supported Hardy, by saying, that I had been seen going to the woods
before night by the way of the road which the deceased had traveled.
These circumstances were deemed conclusive against me by my master; and
as the offence of which I was believed to be guilty was the highest that
can be committed by a slave, according to the opinion of owners, it was
determined to punish me in a way unknown to the law, and to inflict
tortures upon me which the law would not tolerate. I was now released,
and though very weak from the effects of bleeding, I was yet able to
return to my own lodgings.

I had no doubt that Hardy was the perpetrator of the crime for which I
was so near losing my life; and now recollected that when I was at the
kitchen of the great house on Sunday, he had disappeared, a short time
before sundown, as I had looked for him when I was going to set my
snares, but could not find him.--I went back to the house, and
communicated this fact to my master.

By this time, nearly twenty white men had collected about the dwelling,
with the intention of going to search for the body of the lost lady; but
it was now resolved to make the look-out double, and to give it the
two-fold character of a pursuit of the living, as well as a seeking for
the dead.

I now returned to my lodgings in the quarter, and soon fell into a
profound sleep, from which I did not awake until long after night, when
all was quiet, and the stillness of undisturbed tranquillity prevailed
over our little community. I felt restless, and sunk into a labyrinth of
painful reflections, upon the horrid and perilous condition from which I
had this day escaped, as it seemed, merely by chance; and as I slept
until all sensations of drowsiness had left me, I rose from my bed, and
walked out by the light of the moon, which was now shining. After being
in the open air some time, I thought of the snares I had set on Sunday
evening, and determined to go and see if they had taken any game. I
sometimes caught oppossums in my snares; and, as these animals were very
fat at this season of the year, I felt a hope that I might be fortunate
enough to get one to-night. I had been at my snares, and had returned,
as far as the road, near where I had seen the young lady and her brother
on horseback on Sunday evening, and had seated myself under the boughs
of a holly bush that grew there. It so happened that the place where I
sat was in the shade of the bush, within a few feet of the road, but
screened from it by some small boughs. In this position, which I had
taken by accident, I could see a great distance along the road, towards
the end of my master's lane. Though covered as I was by the shade, and
enveloped in boughs, it was difficult for a person in the road to see
me.

The occurrence that had befallen me, in the course of the previous day,
had rendered me nervous, and easily susceptible of all the emotions of
fear. I had not been long in this place, when I thought I heard sounds,
as of a person walking on the ground at a quick pace; and looking along
the road, towards the lane I saw the form of some one, passing through a
space in the road, where the beams of the moon, piercing between two
trees, reached the ground. When the moving body passed into the shade, I
could not see it; but in a short time, it came so near that I could
distinctly see that it was a man, approaching me by the road. When he
came opposite me, and the moon shone full in his face, I knew him to be
a young mulatto, named David, the coachman of a widow lady, who resided
somewhere near Charleston; but who had been at the house of my master,
for two or three weeks, as a visiter, with her two daughters.

This man passed on at a quick step, without observing me; and the
suspicion instantly riveted itself in my mind, that he was the murderer,
for whose crime I had already suffered so much, and that he was now on
his way to the place where he had left the body, for the purpose of
removing, or burying it in the earth. I was confident, that no honest
purpose could bring him to this place, at this time of night, alone. I
was about two miles from home, and an equal distance from the spot where
the girl had been seized.

Of her subsequent murder, no one entertained a doubt; for it was not to
be expected, that the fellow who had been guilty of one great crime,
would flinch from the commission of another, of equal magnitude, and
suffer his victim to exist, as a witness to identify his person.

I felt animated, by a spirit of revenge, against the wretch, whoever he
might be, who had brought me so near to torture and death; and feeble
and weak as I was, resolved to pursue the foot-steps of this coachman,
at a wary and cautious distance, and ascertain, if possible, the object
of his visit to these woods, at this time of night.

I waited until he had passed me more than a hundred yards, and until I
could barely discover his form in the faint light of the deep shade of
the trees, when stealing quietly into the road, I followed, with the
caution of a spy traversing the camp of an enemy.--We were now in a dark
pine forest, and on both sides of us were tracts of low, swampy ground,
covered with thickets so dense as to be difficult of penetration even by
a person on foot. The road led along a neck of elevated and dry ground,
that divided these swamps for more than a mile, when they terminated,
and were succeeded by ground that produced scarcely any other timber
than a scrubby kind of oak, called black jack. It was amongst these
black jacks, about half a mile beyond the swamps, that the lady had been
carried off. I had often been here, for the purpose of snaring and
trapping the small game of these woods, and was well acquainted with the
topography of this forest, for some distance, on both sides of the road.

It was necessary for me to use the utmost caution in the enterprise I
was now engaged in. The road we were now traveling, was in no place very
broad, and at some points barely wide enough to permit a carriage to
pass between the trees, that lined its sides. In some places, it was so
dark that I could not see the man, whose steps I followed; but was
obliged to depend on the sound, produced by the tread of his feet, upon
the ground. I deemed it necessary to keep as close as possible to the
object of my pursuit, lest he should suddenly turn into the swamp, on
one side or the other of the road, and elude my vigilance; for I had no
doubt that he would quit the road, somewhere. As we approached the
termination of the low grounds, my anxiety became intense, lest he
should escape me; and at one time, I could not have been more than one
hundred feet behind him; but he continued his course, until he reached
the oak woods, and came to a place where an old cart-road led off to the
left, along the side of the Dark Swamp, as it was termed in the
neighborhood.

This road, the mulatto took, without turning to look behind him. Here my
difficulties and perils increased, for I now felt myself in danger, as I
had no longer any doubt, that I was on the trail of the murderer, and
that, if discovered by him, my life would be the price of my curiosity.
I was too weak to be able to struggle with him, for a minute; though if
the blood which I had lost, through his wickedness, could have been
restored to my veins, I could have seized him by the neck, and strangled
him.

The road I now had to travel, was so little frequented, that bushes of
the ground oak and bilberry stood thick in almost every part of it. Many
of these bushes were full of dry leaves, which had been touched by the
frost, but had not yet fallen. It was easy for me to follow him, for I
pursued by the noise he made, amongst these bushes; but it was not so
easy for me to avoid, on my part, the making of a rustling, and
agitation of the bushes, which might expose me to detection. I was now
obliged to depend wholly on my ears, to guide my pursuit, my eyes being
occupied in watching my own way, to enable me to avoid every object, the
touching of which was likely to produce sound.

I followed this road more than a mile, led by the cracking of the
sticks, or the shaking of the leaves. At length, I heard a loud, shrill
whistle, and then a total silence succeeded. I now stood still, and in a
few seconds, heard a noise in the swamp like the drumming of a pheasant.
Soon afterwards, I heard the breaking of sticks, and the sounds caused
by the bending of branches of trees. In a little time, I was satisfied
that something having life was moving in the swamp, and coming towards
the place where the mulatto stood.

This was at the end of the cart-road, and opposite some large pine
trees, which grew in the swamp, at the distance of two or three hundred
yards from its margin. The noise in the swamp still approached us; and
at length a person came out of the thicket, and stood for a minute, or
more, with the mulatto whom I had followed; and then they both entered
the swamp, and took the course of the pine trees, as I could easily
distinguish by my ears.

When they were gone, I advanced to the end of the road, and sat down
upon a log, to listen to their progress through the swamp. At length, it
seemed that they had stopped, for I no longer heard any thing of them.
Anxious, however, to ascertain more of this mysterious business, I
remained in silence on the log, determined to stay there until day, if I
could not sooner learn something to satisfy me. Why these men had gone
into the swamp. All uncertainty upon this subject was, however, quickly
removed from my mind; for within less than ten minutes, after I had
ceased to hear them moving in the thicket, I was shocked by the faint,
but shrill wailings of a female voice, accompanied with exclamations and
supplications, in a tone so feeble that I could only distinguish a few
solitary words.

My mind comprehended the whole ground of this matter, at a glance. The
lady supposed to have been murdered on Sunday evening, was still living;
and concealed by the two fiends who had passed out of my sight but a few
minutes before. The one I knew, for I had examined his features, within
a few feet of me, in the full light of the moon; and, that the other was
Hardy, I was as perfectly convinced, as if I had seen him also.

I now rose to return home; the cries of the female in the swamp still
continuing, but growing weaker, and dying away, as I receded from the
place where I had sat.

I was now in possession of the clearest evidence of the guilt of the two
murderers; but I was afraid to communicate my knowledge to my master,
lest he should suspect me of being an accomplice in this crime; and, if
the lady could not be recovered alive, I had no doubt that Hardy and his
companion were sufficiently depraved to charge me as a participation
with themselves, to be avenged upon me. I was confident that the
mulatto, David, would return to the house before day, and be found in
his bed in the morning; which he could easily do, for he slept in a part
of the stable loft; under pretence of being near the horses of his
mistress.

I thought it possible, that Hardy might also return home that night, and
endeavor to account for his absence from home on Monday afternoon, by
some ingenious lie; in the invention of which I knew him to be very
expert. In this case, I saw that I should have to run the risk of being
overpowered by the number of my false accusers; and, as I stood alone,
they might yet be able to sacrifice my life, and escape the punishment
due to their crimes. After much consideration, I came to the resolution
of returning, as quick as possible, to the quarter--calling up the
overseer--and acquainting him with all that I had seen, heard, and done,
in the course of this night.

As I did not know what time of night it was when I left my bed, I was
apprehensive that day might break before I could so far mature my plans
as to have persons to waylay and arrest the mulatto on his return home;
but when I roused the overseer, he told me it was only one o'clock, and
seemed but little inclined to credit my story; but, after talking to me
several minutes he told me he, now more than ever, suspected me to be
the murderer, but he would go with me and see if I had told the truth.
When we arrived at the great house, some members of the family had not
yet gone to bed, having been kept up by the arrival of several gentlemen
who had been searching the woods all day for the lost lady, and who had
come here to seek lodgings when it was near midnight. My master was in
bed, but was called up and listened attentively to my story--at the
close of which he shook his head, and said with an oath, "You ----, I
believe you to be the murderer; but we will go and see if all you say is
a lie; if it is, the torments of ---- will be pleasure to what awaits
you. You have escaped once, but you will not get off a second time," I
now found that somebody must die; and if the guilty could not be found,
the innocent would have to atone for them. The manner in which my master
had delivered his words, assured me that the life of somebody must be
taken.

This new danger aroused my energies--and I told them that I was ready to
go, and take the consequences. Accordingly, the overseer, my young
master, and three other gentlemen, immediately set out with me. It was
agreed that we should all travel on foot, the overseer and I going a few
paces in advance of the others. We proceeded silently, but rapidly, on
our way; and as we passed it, I showed them the place where I sat under
the holly bush, when the mulatto passed me. We neither saw nor heard any
person on the road, and reached the log at the end of the cart-road,
where I sat when I heard the cries in the swamp. All was now quiet, and
our party lay down in the bushes on each side of a large gum tree, at
the root of which the two murderers stood when they talked together,
before they entered the thicket. We had not been here more than an hour,
when I heard, as I lay with my head near the ground, a noise in the
swamp, which I believed could only be made by those whom we sought.

I, however, said nothing, and the gentlemen did not hear it. It was
caused, as I afterwards ascertained, by dragging the fallen branch of a
tree along the ground, for the purpose of lighting the fire.

The night was very clear and serene--its silence only being broken at
intervals by the loud hooting of the great long-eared owls, which are
numerous in these swamps. I felt oppressed by the cold, and was glad to
hear the crowing of a cock, at a great distance, announcing the approach
of day. This was followed, after a short interval, by the cracking of
sticks, and by other tokens, which I knew could proceed only from the
motions of living bodies. I now whispered to the overseer, who lay near
me, that it would soon appear whether I had spoken the truth or not.

All were now satisfied that people were coming out of the swamp, for we
heard them speak to each other. I desired the overseer to advise the
other gentlemen to let the culprits come out of the swamp, and gain the
high ground, before we attempted to seize them; but this counsel was,
unfortunately, not taken; and when they came near to the gum tree, and
it could be clearly seen that there were two men and no more, one of the
gentlemen called out to them to stop, or they were dead. Instead,
however, of stopping, they both sprang forward, and took to flight. They
did not turn into the swamp, for the gentleman who ordered them to stop,
was in their rear--they having already passed him. At the moment they
had started to run, each of the gentlemen fired two pistols at them. The
pistols made the forest ring on all sides; and I supposed it was
impossible for either of the fugitives to escape from so many balls.
This was, however, not the case; for only one of them was injured. The
mulatto, David, had one arm and one leg broken, and fell about ten yards
from us; but Hardy escaped, and when the smoke cleared away, he was
nowhere to be seen. On being interrogated, David acknowledged that the
lady was in the swamp, on a small island, and was yet alive--that he and
Hardy had gone from the house on Sunday, for the purpose of waylaying
and carrying her off, and intended to kill her little brother--this part
of the duty being assigned to him, whilst Hardy was to drag the sister
from her horse. As they were both mulattos, they blacked their faces
with charcoal, taken from a pine stump partially burned. The boy was
riding before his sister, and when Hardy seized her and dragged her from
her horse, she screamed and frightened both the horses, which took off
at full speed, by which means the boy escaped. Finding that the boy was
out of his reach, David remained in the bushes until Hardy brought the
sister to him. They immediately tied a handkerchief round her face, so
as to cover her mouth and stifle her shrieks; and taking her in their
arms, carried her back toward my master's house, for some distance,
through the woods, until they came to the cart-road leading along the
swamp. They then followed this road as far as it led, and, turning into
the swamp, took their victim to a place they had prepared for her the
Sunday before, on a small knoll in the swamp, where the ground was dry.

Her hands were closely confined, and she was tied by the feet to a tree.
He said he had stolen some bread, and taken it to her that night; but
when they unbound her mouth to permit her to eat, she only wept and made
a noise, begging them to release her, until they were obliged again to
bandage her mouth.

It was now determined by the gentlemen, that as the lady was still
alive, we ought not to lose a moment in endeavoring to rescue her from
her dreadful situation. I pointed out the large pine trees, in the
direction of which I heard the cries of the young lady, and near which I
believed she was--undertaking, at the same time, to act as pilot, in
penetrating the thicket. Three of the gentlemen and myself accordingly
set out, leaving the other two with the wounded mulatto with directions
to inform us when we deviated from a right line to the pine trees. This
they were able to do by attending to the noise we made, with nearly as
much accuracy as if they had seen us.

The atmosphere had now become a little cloudy, and the morning was very
dark, even in the oak woods; but when we had entered the thickets of the
swamp, all objects became utterly invisible; and the obscurity was as
total as if our eyes had been closed. Our companions on the dry ground
lost sight of the pine trees, and could not give us any directions in
our journey. We became entangled in briers, and vines, and mats of
bushes, from which the greatest exertions were necessary to disengage
ourselves.

It was so dark, that we could not see the fallen trees; and, missing
these, fell into quagmires, and sloughs of mud and water, into which we
sunk up to the arm-pits, and from which we were able to extricate
ourselves, only by seizing upon the hanging branches of the surrounding
trees. After struggling in this half-drowned condition, for at least a
quarter of an hour, we reached a small dry spot, where the gentlemen
again held a council, as to ulterior measures. They called to those left
on the shore, to know if we were proceeding toward the pine trees; but
received for answer that the pines were invisible, and they knew not
whether we were right or wrong. In this state of uncertainty, it was
thought most prudent to wait the coming of day, in our present
resting-place.

The air was frosty, and in our wet clothes, loaded as we were with mud,
it may be imagined that our feelings were not pleasant; and when the day
broke, it brought us but little relief, for we found, as soon as it was
light enough to enable us to see around, that we were on one of those
insulated dry spots, called "_tussocks_" by the people of the South.
These _tussocks_ are formed by clusters of small trees, which, taking
root in the mud, are, in process of time, surrounded by long grass,
which, entwining its roots with those of the trees, overspread and cover
the surface of the muddy foundation, by which the superstructure is
supported. These _tussocks_ are often several yards in diameter. That
upon which we now were, stood in the midst of a great miry pool, into
which we were again obliged to launch ourselves, and struggle onward for
a distance of ten yards, before we reached the line of some fallen and
decaying trees.

It was now broad daylight, and we saw the pine trees, at the distance of
about a hundred yards from us; but even with the assistance of the
light, we had great difficulty in reaching them,--to do which we were
compelled to travel at least a quarter of a mile by the angles and
curves of the fallen timber, upon which alone we could walk; this part
of the swamp being a vast half-fluid bog.

It was sunrise when we reached the pines, which we found standing upon a
small islet of firm ground, containing, as well as I could judge, about
half an acre, covered with a heavy growth of white maples, swamp oaks, a
few large pines, and a vast mat of swamp laurel, called in the South
_ivy_. I had no doubt that the object of our search was somewhere on
this little island; but small as it was, it was no trifling affair to
give every part of it a minute examination, for the stems and branches
of the ivy were so minutely inter-woven with each other, and spread
along the ground in so many curves and crossings, that it was impossible
to proceed a single rod without lying down and creeping along the earth.

The gentlemen agreed, that if any one discovered the young lady, he
should immediately call to the others; and we all entered the thicket.
I, however, turned along the edge of the island, with the intention of
making its circuit, for the purpose of tracing, if possible, the
footsteps of those who had passed between it and the main shore. I made
my way more than half round the island, without much difficulty, and
without discovering any signs of persons having been here before me; but
in crossing the trunk of a large tree which had fallen, and the top of
which extended far into the ivy, I perceived some stains of mud on the
bark of the log. Looking into the swamp, I saw that the root of this
tree was connected with other fallen timber, extending beyond the reach
of my vision, which was obstructed by the bramble of the swamp, and the
numerous evergreens growing here. I now advanced along the trunk of the
tree until I reached its topmost branches, and here discovered evident
signs of a small trail, leading into the thicket of ivy. Creeping along
and following this trail by the small bearberry bushes that had been
trampled down and had not again risen to an erect position, I was led
almost across the island, and found that the small bushes were
discomposed quite up to the edge of a vast heap of the branches of
evergreen trees, produced by the falling of several large juniper
cypress trees, which grew in the swamp in a cluster, and having been
blown down, had fallen with their tops athwart each other, and upon the
almost impervious mat of ivies, with which the surface of the island
was coated over.

I stood and looked at this mass of entangled green bush, but could not
perceive the slightest marks of any entrance into its labyrinths; nor
did it seem possible for any creature, larger than a squirrel, to
penetrate it. It now for the first time struck me as a great oversight
in the gentlemen, that they had not compelled the mulatto, David, to
describe the place where they had concealed the lady; and, as the forest
was so dense that no communication could be had with the shore, either
by word or signs, we could not now procure any information on this
subject. I therefore called to the gentlemen, who were on the island
with me, and desired them to come to me without delay.

Small as this island was, it was after the lapse of many minutes that
the overseer and the other gentlemen arrived where I stood; and when
they came, they would have been the subjects of mirthful emotions, had
not the tragic circumstances in which I was placed, banished from my
heart every feeling but that of the most profound melancholy.

When the gentlemen had assembled, I informed them of signs of footsteps
that I had traced from the other side of the island; and told them that
I believed the young lady lay somewhere under the heap of brushwood
before us. This opinion obtained but little credit, because there was no
opening in the brush by which any one could enter it; but on going a few
paces round the heap, I perceived a small, snaggy pole resting on the
brush, and nearly concealed by it, with the lower end stuck in the
ground. The branches had been cut from this pole at the distance of
three or four inches from the main stem, which made it a tolerable
substitute for a ladder. I immediately ascended the pole, which led me
to the top of the pile, and here I discovered an opening in the brush,
between the forked top of one of the cypress trees, through which a man
might easily pass. Applying my head to this aperture, I distinctly heard
a quick and laborious breathing, like that of a person in extreme
illness; and again called the gentlemen to follow me.

When they came up the ladder, the breathing was audible to all; and one
of the gentlemen, whom I now perceived to be the stranger, who was with
us in my master's cellar, when I was bled, slid down into the dark and
narrow passage, without uttering a word. I confess that some feelings of
trepidation passed through my nerves when I stood alone; but now that a
leader had preceded me, I followed, and glided through the smooth and
elastic cypress tops, to the bottom of this vast labyrinth of green
boughs.

When I reached the ground, I found myself in contact with the gentleman
who was in advance of me, and near one end of a large concave, oblong,
open space, formed by the branches of the trees, having been supported
and kept above the ground, partly by a cluster of very large and strong
ivies, that grew here, and partly by a young gum tree, which had been
bent into the form of an arch by the falling timber.

Though we could not see into this leafy cavern from above, yet when we
had been in it a few moments, we had light enough to see the objects
around us with tolerable clearness; but that which surprised us both
greatly was, that the place was totally silent, and we could not
perceive the appearance of any living thing, except ourselves.

After we had been here some minutes, our vision became still more
distinct; and I saw, at the other end of the open space, ashes of wood,
and some extinguished brands, but there was no smoke. Going to these
ashes, and stirring them with a stick, I found coals of fire carefully
covered over, in a hole six or eight inches deep.

When he saw the fire, the gentleman spoke to me, and expressed his
astonishment that we heard the breathing no longer; but he had scarcely
uttered these words, when a faint groan, as of a woman in great pain,
was heard to issue apparently from the ground; but a motion of branches
on our right assured me that the sufferer was concealed there. The
gentleman sprung to the spot, pushed aside the pendant boughs, stooped
low beneath the bent ivies, and came out, bearing in his hands a
delicate female figure. As he turned round, and exposed her half-closed
eye and white forehead to the light, he exclaimed, "Eternal God! Maria,
is it you?" He then pressed her to his bosom, and sunk upon the ground,
still holding her closely in his embrace.

The lady lay motionless in his arms, and I thought she was dead. Her
hair hung matted and dishevelled from her head; a handkerchief, once
white, but now soiled with dust, and stained with blood, was bound
firmly round her head, covering her mouth and chin, and was fastened at
the back of the neck, by a double knot, and secured by a ligature of
cypress bark.

I knew not whom most to pity--the lady, who now lay insensible in the
arms that still clasped her tenderly; or the unhappy gentleman, who
having cut the cords from her limbs, and the handkerchief from her face,
now sat and silently gazed upon her death-like countenance. He uttered
not a sigh, and moved not a joint, but his breast heaved with agony; the
sinews and muscles of his neck rose and fell, like those of a man in
convulsions; all the lineaments of his face were, alternately,
contracted and expanded, as if his last moments were at hand; whilst
great drops of sweat rolled down his forehead, as though he struggled
against an enemy whose strength was more than human.

Oppressed by the sight of so much wretchedness, I turned from its
contemplation, and called aloud to the gentlemen without (who had all
this time been waiting to hear from us) to come up the ladder to the top
of the pile of boughs. The overseer was quickly at the top of the
opening, by which I had descended; and I now informed him that we had
found the lady. He ordered me to hand her up--and I desired the
gentleman who was with me to permit me to do so, but this he
refused--and mounting the boughs of the fallen trees, and supporting
himself by the strong branches of the ivies, he quickly reached the
place where the overseer stood.

He even here refused to part from his charge, but bore her down the
ladder alone. He was, however, obliged to accept aid, in conveying her
through the swamp to the place where we had left the two gentlemen with
the wounded mulatto, whose sufferings, demon as he was, were sufficient
to move the hardest heart. His right arm and left leg were broken, and
he had lost much blood before we returned from the island; and as he
could not walk, it was necessary to carry him home. We had not brought
any horses, and until the lady was recovered, no one seemed to think any
more about the mulatto after he was shot down.

It was proposed to send for a horse to take David home; but it was
finally agreed that we should leave him in the woods, where he was,
until a man could be sent for him with a cart. At the time we left him,
his groans and lamentations seemed to excite no sympathy in the breast
of any. More cruel sufferings yet awaited him.

The lady was carried home in the arms of the gentlemen; and she did not
speak, until after she was bathed and put to bed in my master's house,
as I afterwards heard. I know she did not speak on the way. She died on
the fourth day after her rescue, and before her death related the
circumstances of her misfortune, as I was told by a colored woman, who
attended her in her illness, in the following manner:

As she was riding in the dusk of the evening, at a rapid trot, a few
yards behind her brother, a black man sprang from behind a tree standing
close by the side of the road; seized her by her riding dress, and
dragged her to the ground, but failed to catch the bridle of the horse,
which sprang off at full speed.--Another negro immediately came to the
aid of the first, and said, "I could not catch him--we must make haste."
They carried her as fast as they could go to the place where we found
her, when they bound her hands, feet and mouth, and left her until the
next night; and had left her the second morning, only a few minutes,
when she heard the report of guns. Soon after this, by great efforts,
she extricated one of her feet from the bark with which she was bound;
but finding herself too weak to stand, she crawled, as far as she could,
under the boughs of the trees, hoping that when her assassins returned
again they would not be able to find her, and that she might there die
alone.

Exhausted by the efforts she had made to remove herself, she fell into
the stupor of sleep, from which she was aroused by the noise we made
when we descended into the cavern. She then, supposing us to be her
destroyers returned again, lay still, and breathed as softly as
possible, to prevent us from hearing her; but when she heard the voice
of the gentleman who was with me, the tones of which were familiar to
her, she groaned and moved her feet, to let us know where she was. This
exertion, and the idea of her horrid condition, overcame the strength of
her nerves; and when her deliverer raised her from the ground she had
swooned, and was unconscious of all things.

We had no sooner arrived at the house, than inquiry was made for Hardy;
but it was ascertained in the kitchen, that he had not been seen since
the previous evening, at night-fall, when he had left the kitchen for
the purpose of going to sleep at the stable with David, as he had told
one of the black women; and preparation was immediately made to go in
pursuit of him.

For this purpose all the gentlemen present equipped themselves with
pistols, fowling pieces, and horns--such as are used by fox hunters.
Messengers were despatched round the country, to give notice to all the
planters, within the distance of many miles, of the crime that had been
committed, and of the escape of one of its perpetrators, with a request
to them to come without delay, and join in the pursuit, intended to be
given. Those who had dogs, trained to chase thieves, were desired to
bring them; and a gentleman who lived twelve miles off, and who owned a
blood-hound, was sent for, and requested to come with his dog, in all
haste.

In consequence, I suppose, of the information I had given, I was
permitted to be present at these deliberations, and though my advice was
not asked, I was often interrogated, concerning my knowledge of the
affair. Some proposed to go at once, with dogs and horses, into the
woods, and traverse the swamp and thickets, for the purpose of rousing
Hardy from the place of concealment he might have chosen; but the
opinion of the overseer prevailed, who thought, that from the intimate
knowledge possessed by him, of all the swamps and coverts in the
neighborhood, there would be little hope of discovering him in this
manner. The overseer advised them to wait the coming of the gentleman
with his blood-hound, before they entered the woods; for the reason,
that if the blood hound could be made to take the trail, he would
certainly find his game, before he quit it, if not thrown off the scent
by the men, horses, and dogs crossing his course; but if the blood hound
could not take the scent, they might then adopt the proposed plan of
pursuit, with as much success as at present. This counsel being adopted,
the horses were ordered into the stable; and the gentlemen entered the
house to take their breakfast, and wait the arrival of the blood hound.

Nothing was said of the mulatto, David, who seemed to be forgotten--not
a word being spoken by any one of bringing him from the woods. I knew
that he was suffering the most agonizing pains, and great as were his
crimes, his groans and cries of anguish still seemed to echo in my ears;
but I was afraid to make any application in his behalf, lest, even yet,
I might be suspected of some participation in his offences; for I knew
that the most horrid punishments were often inflicted upon slaves merely
on suspicion.

As the morning advanced, the number of men and horses in front of my
master's mansion increased; and before ten o'clock I think there were,
at least, fifty of each--the horses standing hitched and the men
conversing in groups without, or assembled together within the house.

At length the owner of the blood hound came, bringing with him his dog,
in a chaise, drawn by one horse. The harness was removed from the horse,
its place supplied by a saddle and bridle, and the whole party set off
for the woods. As they rode away, my master, who was one of the company,
told me to follow them; but we had proceeded only a little distance,
when the gentlemen stopped, and my master, after speaking with the owner
of the dog, told the overseer to go back to the house, and get some
piece of the clothes of Hardy, that had been worn by him lately. The
overseer returned, and we all proceeded forward to the place where David
lay.

We found him where we had left him, greatly weakened by the loss of
blood, and complaining that the cold air caused his wounds to smart
intolerably. When I came near him, he looked at me and told me I had
betrayed him. None of the gentlemen seemed at all moved by his
sufferings, and when any of them spoke to him it was with derision, and
every epithet of scorn and contumely. As it was apparent that he could
not escape, no one proposed to remove him to a place of greater safety;
but several of the horsemen, as they passed, lashed him with the thongs
of their whips; but I do not believe he felt these blows--the pain he
endured from his wounds being so great as to drown the sensation of such
minor afflictions.

The day had already become warm, although the night had been cold; the
sun shone with great clearness, and many carrion crows, attracted by the
scent of blood, were perched upon the trees near where we now were.

When the overseer came up with us, he brought an old blanket, in which
Hardy had slept for some time, and handed it to the owner of the dog;
who, having first caused the hound to smell of the blanket, untied the
cord in which he had been led, and turned him into the woods. The dog
went from us fifty or sixty yards, in a right line, then made a circle
around us, again commenced his circular movement, and pursued it nearly
half round. Then he dropped his nose to the ground, snuffed the tainted
surface, and moved off through the wood slowly, almost touching the
earth with his nose. The owner of the dog and twelve or fifteen others
followed him, whilst the residue of the party dispersed themselves along
the edge of the swamp, and the overseer ordered me to stay and watch the
horses of those who dismounted, going himself on foot in the pursuit.

When the gentlemen were all gone out of sight, I went to David, who lay
all this time within my view, for the purpose of asking him if I could
render him any assistance. He begged me to bring him some water, as he
was dying of thirst, no less than with the pain of his wounds. One of
the horsemen had left a large tin horn hanging on his saddle; this I
took, and stopping the small end closely with leaves, filled it with
water from the swamp, and gave it to the wounded man, who drank it, and
then turning his head towards me, said:--"Hardy and I had laid a plan to
have this thing brought upon you, and to have you hung for it--but you
have escaped." He then asked me if they intended to leave him to die in
the woods, or to take him home and hang him. I told him I had heard them
talk of taking him home in a cart, but what was to be done with him I
did not know. I felt a horror of the crimes committed by this man; was
pained by the sight of his sufferings, and being unable to relieve the
one, or to forgive the other, went to a place where I could neither see
nor hear him, and sat down to await the return of those who had gone in
the pursuit of Hardy.

In the circumstances which surrounded me, it cannot be supposed that my
feelings were pleasant, or that time moved very fleetly; but painful as
my situation was, I was obliged to bear it for many hours. From the time
the gentlemen left me, I neither saw nor heard them, until late in the
afternoon, when five or six of them returned, having lost their
companions in the woods.

Toward sundown, I heard a great noise of horns blown, and of men
shouting at a distance in the forest; and soon after, my master, the
owner of the blood hound, and many others returned, bringing with them
Hardy, whom the hound had followed ten or twelve miles through the
swamps and thickets; had at last caught him, and would soon have killed
him, had he not been compelled to relinquish his prey. When the party
had all returned, a kind of court was held in the woods, where we then
were, for the purpose of determining what punishment should be inflicted
upon Hardy and David. All agreed at once, that an example of the most
terrific character ought to be made of such atrocious villains, and that
it would defeat the ends of justice to deliver these fellows up to the
civil authority, to be hanged like common murderers. The next measure
was to settle upon the kind of punishment to be inflicted upon them, and
the manner of executing the sentence.

Hardy was, all this time, sitting on the ground covered with blood, and
yet bleeding profusely, in hearing of his inexorable judges. The dog had
mangled both his arms and hands in a shocking manner; torn a large piece
of flesh entirely away from one side of his breast, and sunk his fangs
deep in the side of his neck. No other human creature that I have ever
seen presented a more deplorable spectacle of mingled crime and cruelty.

It was now growing late, and the fate of these miserable men was to be
decided before the company separated to go to their several homes. One
proposed to burn them, another to flay them alive, and a third to starve
them to death, and many other modes of slowly and tormentingly
extinguishing life were named; but that which was finally adopted was,
of all others, the most horrible. The wretches were unanimously
sentenced to be stripped naked, and bound down securely upon their
backs, on the naked earth, in sight of each other; to have their mouths
closely covered with bandages, to prevent them from making a noise to
frighten away the birds, and in this manner to be left to be devoured
alive by the carrion crows and buzzards, which swarm in every part of
South Carolina.

The sentence was instantly carried into effect, so far as its execution
depended on us. Hardy and his companion were divested of their clothes,
stretched upon their backs on the ground; their mouths bandaged with
handkerchiefs--their limbs extended--and these, together with their
necks, being crossed by numerous poles, were kept close to the earth by
forked sticks driven into the ground, so as to prevent the possibility
of moving any part of their persons; and in this manner these wicked men
were left to be torn in pieces by birds of prey. The buzzards and
carrion crows, always attack dead bodies by pulling out and consuming
the eyes first. They then tear open the bowels, and feed upon the
intestines.

We returned to my master's plantation, and I did not see this place
again until the next Sunday, when several of my fellow slaves went with
me to see the remains of the dead, but we found only their bones. Great
flocks of buzzards and carrion crows were assembled in the trees, giving
a dismal aspect to the woods; and I hastened to abandon a place fraught
with so many afflicting recollections.

The lady, who had been the innocent sacrifice of the brutality of the
men, whose bones I had seen bleaching in the sun, had died on Saturday
evening, and her corpse was buried on Monday, in a grave-yard on my
master's plantation. I have never seen a large cotton plantation, in
Carolina, without its burying ground. This burying ground is not only
the place of sepulture of the family, who are the proprietors of the
estate, but also of many other persons who have lived in the
neighborhood. Half an acre, or an acre of ground, is appropriated as a
grave-yard, on one side of which the proprietors of the estate, from age
to age, are buried; whilst the other parts of the ground are open to
strangers, poor people of their vicinity, and, in general, to all who
choose to inter their dead within its boundaries. This custom prevails
as far north as Maryland; and it seems to me to be much more consonant
to the feelings of solitude and tender recollections, which we always
associate with the memory of departed friends, than the practice of
promiscuous interment in a church-yard, where all idea of seclusion is
banished, by the last home of the dead being thrown open to the rude
intrusions of strangers; where the sanctity of the sepulchre is treated
as a common, and where the grave itself is, in a few years, torn up, or
covered over, to form a temporary resting-place for some new tenant.

The family of the deceased lady, though not very wealthy, was amongst
the most ancient and respectable in this part of the country; and, on
Sunday, whilst the dead body lay in my master's house, there was a
continual influx and efflux of visiters, in carriages, on horse-back,
and on foot. The house was open to all who chose to come; and the best
wines, cakes, sweetmeats and fruits, were handed about to the company by
the servants; though I observed that none remained for dinner, except
the relations of the deceased, those of my master's family, and the
young gentleman who was with me on the island. The visiters remained but
a short time when they came, and were nearly all in mourning. This was
the first time that I had seen a large number of the fashionable people
of Carolina assembled together, and their appearance impressed me with
an opinion favorable to their character. I had never seen an equal
number of people anywhere, whose deportment was more orderly and
decorous, nor whose feelings seemed to be more in accordance with the
solemnity of the event, which had brought them together.

I had been ordered by the overseer to remain at the great house until
the afternoon, for the purpose, as I afterwards learned, of being seen
by those who came to see the corpse; and many of the ladies and
gentlemen inquired for me, and when I was pointed out to them, commended
my conduct and fidelity, in discovering the authors of the
murder--condoled with me for having suffered innocently, and several
gave me money. One old lady, who came in a pretty carriage, drawn by two
black horses, gave me a dollar.

On Monday the funeral took place, and several hundred persons followed
the corpse to the grave, over which a minister delivered a short sermon.
The young gentleman who was with me when we found the deceased on the
island, walked with her mother to the grave-yard, and the little brother
followed, with a younger sister.

After the interment, wines and refreshments were handed round to the
whole assembly, and at least a hundred persons remained for dinner with
my master's family. At four o'clock in the afternoon the carriages and
horses were ordered to the door of the court-yard of the house, and the
company retired. At sundown, the plantation was as quiet as if its peace
had never been disturbed.



CHAPTER X.


I have before observed that the negroes of the cotton plantations are
exceedingly superstitious; and they are indeed prone, beyond all other
people that I have ever known, to believe in ghosts, and the existence
of an infinite number of supernatural agents. No story of a miraculous
character can be too absurd to obtain credit with them; and a narrative
is not the less eagerly listened to, nor the more cautiously received,
because it is impossible in its circumstances. Within a few weeks after
the deaths of the two malefactors, to whose horrible crimes were awarded
equally horrible punishments, the forest that had been the scene of
these bloody deeds was reported and believed to be visited at night by
beings of unearthly make, whose groans and death-struggles were heard in
the darkest recesses of the woods, amidst the flapping of the wings of
vultures, the fluttering of carrion crows, and the dismal croaking of
ravens. In the midst of this nocturnal din, the noise caused by the
tearing of the flesh from the bones was heard, and the panting breath
of the agonized sufferer, quivering under the beaks of his tormentors,
as they consumed his vitals, floated audibly upon the evening breeze.

The murdered lady was also seen walking by moonlight, near the spot
where she had been dragged from her horse, wrapped in a blood-stained
mantle, overhung with gory and dishevelled locks.

The little island in the swamp was said to present spectacles too horrid
for human eyes to look upon, and sounds were heard to issue from it
which no human ear could bear. Terrific and ghastly fires were seen to
burst up, at midnight, amongst the evergreens that clad this lonely
spot, emitting scents too suffocating and sickly to be endured; whilst
demoniac yells, shouts of despair and groans of agony, mingled their
echos in the solitude of the woods.

Whilst I remained in this neighborhood, no colored person ever traveled
this road alone after night-fall; and many white men would have ridden
ten miles round the country to avoid the passage of the ridge road,
after dark. Generations must pass away before the tradition of this
place will be forgotten; and many a year will open and close, before the
last face will be pale, or the last heart beat, as the twilight traveler
skirts the borders of the Murderer's Swamp.

We had allowances of meat distributed to all the people twice this
fall--once when we had finished the saving the fodder, and again soon
after the murder of the young lady. The first time we had beef, such as
I had driven from the woods when I went to the alligator pond; but now
we had two hogs given to us, which weighed, one a hundred and thirty,
and the other a hundred and fifty-six pounds. This was very good pork,
and I received a pound and a quarter as my share of it. This was the
first pork that I had tasted in Carolina, and it afforded a real feast.
We had, in our family, full seven pounds of good fat meat; and as we now
had plenty of sweet potatoes, both in our gardens and in our weekly
allowance, we had on the Sunday following the funeral, as good a dinner
of stewed pork and potatoes as could have been found in all Carolina. We
did not eat all our meat on Sunday, but kept part of it until Tuesday,
when we warmed it in a pot, with an addition of parsley and other herbs,
and had another very comfortable meal.

I had, by this time, become in some measure acquainted with the country,
and began to lay and execute plans to procure supplies of such things as
were not allowed me by my master. I understood various methods of
entrapping rackoons, and other wild animals that abounded in the large
swamps of this country; and besides the skins, which were worth
something for their furs, I generally procured as many rackoons,
opossums, and rabbits, as afforded us two or three meals in a week. The
woman with whom I lived, understood the way of dressing an opossum, and
I was careful to provide one for our Sunday dinner every week, so long
as these animals continued fat and in good condition.

All the people on the plantation did not live as well as our family did,
for many of the men did not understand trapping game, and others were
too indolent to go far enough from home to find good places for setting
their traps. My principal trapping ground was three miles from home, and
I went three times a week, always after night, to bring home my game,
and keep my traps in good order. Many of the families in the quarter
caught no game, and had no meat, except that which we received from the
overseer, which averaged about six or seven meals in the year.

Lydia, the woman whom I have mentioned heretofore, was one of the women
whose husbands procured little or nothing for the sustenance of their
families, and I often gave her a quarter of a rackoon or a small
opossum, for which she appeared very thankful. Her health was not
good--she had a bad cough, and often told me she was feverish and
restless at night. It appeared clear to me that this woman's
constitution was broken by hardships and sufferings, and that she could
not live long in her present mode of existence. Her husband, a native
of a country far in the interior of Africa, said he had been a priest in
his own nation, and had never been taught to do any kind of labor, being
supported by the contributions of the public; and he now maintained, as
far as he could, the same kind of lazy dignity, that he had enjoyed at
home. He was compelled by the overseer to work, with the other hands, in
the field, but as soon as he had come into his cabin, he took his seat,
and refused to give his wife the least assistance in doing any thing.
She was consequently obliged to do the little work that it was necessary
to perform in the cabin; and also to bear all the labor of weeding and
cultivating the family patch or garden. The husband was a morose, sullen
man, and said he formerly had ten wives in his own country, who all had
to work for, and wait upon him; and he thought himself badly off here,
in having but one woman to do any thing for him. This man was very
irritable, and often beat and otherwise maltreated his wife, on the
slightest provocation, and the overseer refused to protect her, on the
ground, that he never interfered in the family quarrels of the black
people. I pitied this woman greatly, but as it was not in my power to
remove her from the presence and authority of her husband, I thought it
prudent not to say nor do any thing to provoke him further against her.
As the winter approached, and the autumnal rains set in, she was
frequently exposed in the field, and was wet for several hours together;
this, joined to the want of warm and comfortable woollen clothes, caused
her to contract colds, and hoarseness, which increased the severity of
her cough. A few days before Christmas, her child died, after an illness
of only three days. I assisted her and her husband to inter the
infant--which was a little boy--and its father buried with it a small
bow and several arrows; a little bag of parched meal; a miniature canoe,
about a foot long, and a little paddle, (with which he said it would
cross the ocean to his own country) a small stick, with an iron nail,
sharpened, and fastened into one end of it; and a piece of white muslin,
with several curious and strange figures painted on it in blue and red,
by which, he said, his relations and countrymen would know the infant to
be his son, and would receive it accordingly, on its arrival amongst
them.

Cruel as this man was to his wife, I could not but respect the
sentiments which inspired his affection for his child; though it was the
affection of a barbarian. He cut a lock of hair from his head, threw it
upon the dead infant, and closed the grave with his own hands. He then
told us the God of his country was looking at him, and was pleased with
what he had done. Thus ended the funeral service.

As we returned home, Lydia told me she was rejoiced that her child was
dead, and out of a world in which slavery and wretchedness must have
been its only portion. I am now, said she, ready to follow my child, and
the sooner I go the better for me. She went with us to the field until
the month of January, when, as we were returning from our work, one
stormy and wet evening, she told me she should never pick any more
cotton--that her strength was gone, and she could work no more. When we
assembled, at the blowing of the horn, on the following morning, Lydia
did not appear. The overseer, who had always appeared to dislike this
woman, when he missed her, swore very angrily, and said he supposed she
was pretending to be sick, but if she was he would soon cure her. He
then stepped into his house and took some copperas from a little bag,
and mixed it with water. I followed him to Lydia's cabin, where he
compelled her to drink this solution of copperas. It caused her to vomit
violently, and made her exceedingly sick. I think to this day, that this
act of the overseer was the most inhuman of all those that I have seen
perpetrated upon defenceless slaves.

Lydia was removed that same day to the sick room, in a state of extreme
debility and exhaustion. When she left this room again she was a corpse.
Her disease was a consumption of the lungs, which terminated her life
early in March. I assisted in carrying her to the grave, which I closed
upon her, and covered with green turf. She sleeps by the side of her
infant, in a corner of the negro grave-yard of this plantation. Death
was to her a welcome messenger, who came to remove her from toil that
she could not support, and from misery that she could not sustain.

Christmas approached, and we all expected two or three holidays--but we
were disappointed, as only one was all that was allotted to us.

I went to the field and picked cotton all day, for which I was paid by
the overseer, and at night I had a good dinner of stewed pork and sweet
potatoes. Such were the beginning and end of my first Christmas on a
cotton plantation. We went to work as usual the next morning, and
continued our labor through the week, as if Christmas had been stricken
from the calendar. I had already saved and laid by a little more than
ten dollars in money, but part of it had been given to me at the
funeral. I was now much in want of clothes, none having been given me
since I came here. I had, at the commencement of the cold weather, cut
up my old blanket, and, with the aid of Lydia, who was a very good
seamstress, converted it into a pair of trowsers, and a long roundabout
jacket; but this deprived me of my bed, which was imperfectly supplied
by mats, which I made of rushes. The mats were very comfortable things
to lie upon, but they were by no means equal to blankets for covering.

A report had been current among us for some time, that there would be a
distribution of clothes to the people at New-Year's day; but how much,
or what kind of clothes we were to get no one pretended to know except
that we were to get shoes, in conformity to a long-established rule of
this plantation. From Christmas to New-Year appeared a long week to me,
and I have no doubt that it appeared yet longer to some of my fellow
slaves, most of whom were entirely barefoot. I had made moccasins for
myself, of the skins of squirrels that I had caught in my traps, and by
this means protected my feet from the frost, which was sometimes very
heavy and sharp in the morning.

On the first day of January, when we met at the blowing of the morning
horn, the overseer told us we must all proceed to the great house, where
we were to receive our winter clothes; and surely, no order was ever
more willingly obeyed. When we arrived at the house our master was up,
and we were all called into the great court yard in front of the
dwelling. The overseer now told us that shoes would be given to all
those who were able to go to the field to pick cotton. This deprived of
shoes the children, and several old persons, whose eye-sight was not
sufficiently clear to enable them to pick cotton. A new blanket was then
given to every one above seven years of age--children under seven
received no blanket, being left to be provided for by their parents.
Children of this age and under, go entirely naked, in the day-time, and
sleep with their mothers at night, or are wrapped up together in such
bedding as the mother may possess.

It may well be supposed, that in our society, although we were all
slaves, and all nominally in a condition of the most perfect equality,
yet there was in fact a very great difference in the manner of living,
in the several families. Indeed, I doubt if there is as great a
diversity in the modes of life, in the several families of any white
village in New York or Pennsylvania, containing a population of three
hundred persons, as there was in the several households of our quarter.
This may be illustrated by the following circumstance: Before I came to
reside in the family with whom I lived at this time, they seldom tasted
animal food, or even fish, except on meat-days, as they were called;
that is, when meat was given to the people by the overseer, under the
orders of our master. The head of the family was a very quiet, worthy
man; but slothful and inactive in his habits. When he had come from the
field at night, he seldom thought of leaving the cabin again before
morning. He would, and did, make baskets and mats, and earned some money
by these means; he also did his regular day's work on Sunday; but all
his acquirements were not sufficient to enable him to provide any kind
of meat for his family. All that his wife and children could do, was to
provide him with work at his baskets and mats; and they lived even then
better than some of their neighbors. After I came among them and had
acquired some knowledge of the surrounding country, I made as many
baskets and mats as he did, and took time to go twice a week to look at
all my traps.

As the winter passed away and spring approached, the proceeds of my
hunting began to diminish. The game became scarce, and both rackoons and
opossums grew poor and worthless. It was necessary for me to discover
some new mode of improving the allowance allotted to me by the overseer.
I had all my life been accustomed to fishing in Maryland, and I now
resolved to resort to the water for a living; the land having failed to
furnish me a comfortable subsistence. With these views, I set out one
Sunday morning, early in February, and went to the river at a distance
of three miles from home. From the appearance of the stream I felt
confident that it must contain many fish; and I went immediately to work
to make a weir. With the help of an axe that I had with me, I had
finished before night the frame-work of a weir of pine sticks, lashed
together with white oak splits. I had no canoe, but made a raft of dry
logs, upon which I went to a suitable place in the river and set my
weir. I afterwards made a small net of twine that I bought at the
store; and on next Thursday night I took as many fish from my weir as
filled a half bushel measure. This was a real treasure--it was the most
fortunate circumstance that had happened with me since I came to the
country.

I was enabled to show my generosity, but, like all mankind, even in my
liberality, I kept myself in mind. I gave a large fish to the overseer,
and took three more to the great house. These were the first fresh fish
that had been in the family this season; and I was much praised by my
master and young mistresses, for my skill and success in fishing; but
this was all the advantage I received from this effort to court the
favor of the great:--I did not even get a dram. The part I had performed
in the detection of the murderers of the young lady was forgotten, or at
least not mentioned now. I went away from the house not only
disappointed but chagrined, and thought with myself that if my master
and young mistresses had nothing but words to give me for my fish, we
should not carry on a very large traffic.

On next Sunday morning, a black boy came from the house, and told me
that our master wished to see me. This summons was not to be disobeyed.
When I returned to the mansion, I went round to the kitchen, and sent
word by one of the house-slaves that I had come. The servant returned
and told me, that I was to stay in the kitchen and get my breakfast; and
after that to come into the house. A very good breakfast was sent to me
from my master's table, after the family had finished their morning
meal; and when I had done with my repast I went into the parlor. I was
received with great affability by my master, who told me he had sent for
me to know if I had been accustomed to fish in the place I had come
from. I informed him that I had been employed at a fishery on the
Patuxent, every spring, for several years; and that I thought I
understood fishing with a seine, as well as most people. He then asked
me if I could knit a seine, to which I replied in the affirmative. After
some other questions, he told me that as the picking of cotton was
nearly over for this season, and the fields must soon be ploughed up for
a new crop, he had a thought of having a seine made, and of placing me
at the head of a fishing party, for the purpose of trying to take a
supply of fish for his hands. No communication could have been more
unexpected than this was, and it was almost as pleasing to me as it was
unexpected by me. I now began to hope that there would be some respite
from the labors of the cotton field, and that I should not be doomed to
drag out a dull and monotonous existence, within the confines of the
enclosures of the plantation.

In Maryland, the fishing season was always one of hard labor, it is
true, but also a time of joy and hilarity. We then had, throughout the
time of fishing, plenty of bread, and at least bacon enough to fry our
fish with. We had also a daily allowance of whisky, or brandy, and we
always considered ourselves fortunate when we left the farm to go to the
fishery.

A few days after this, I was again sent for by my master, who told me
that he had bought twine and ropes for a seine, and that I must set to
work and knit it as quickly as possible; that as he did not wish the
twine to be taken to the quarter, I must remain with the servants in the
kitchen, and live with them while employed in constructing the seine. I
was assisted in making the seine by a black boy, whom I had taught to
work with me; and by the end of two weeks we had finished our job.

While at work on this seine, I lived rather better than I had formerly
done when residing at the quarter. We received among us--twelve in
number, including the people who worked in the garden--the refuse of our
master's table. In this way we procured a little cold meat every day;
and when there were many strangers visiting the family, we sometimes
procured considerable quantities of cold and broken meats.

My new employment afforded me a better opportunity than I had hitherto
possessed of making correct observations upon the domestic economy of
my master's household, and of learning the habits and modes of life of
the persons who composed it. On a great cotton plantation, such as this
of my master's, the field hands, who live in the quarter, are removed so
far from the domestic circle of their master's family, by their servile
condition and the nature of their employment, that they know but little
more of the transactions within the walls of the great house than if
they lived ten miles off. Many a slave has been born, lived to old age,
and died on a plantation, without ever having been within the walls of
his master's domicile.

My master was a widower; and his house was in charge of his sister, a
maiden lady, apparently of fifty-five or sixty. He had six children,
three sons and three daughters, and all unmarried; but only one of the
sons was at home, at the time I came upon the estate; the other two were
in some of the northern cities--the one studying medicine, and the other
at college. At the time of knitting the twine, these young gentlemen had
returned on a visit to their relations, and all the brothers and sisters
were now on the place. The young ladies were all grown up, and
marriageable; their father was known to be a man of great wealth, and
the girls were reputed very pretty in Carolina; one of them, the second
of the three, was esteemed a great beauty.

The reader might deem my young mistress' pretty face and graceful person
altogether impertinent to the narrative of my own life; but they had a
most material influence upon my fortunes, and changed the whole tenor of
my existence. Had she been less beautiful, or of a temper less romantic
and adventurous, I should still have been a slave in South Carolina, if
yet alive, and the world would have been saved the labor of perusing
these pages.

Any one at all acquainted with southern manners, will at once see that
my master's house possessed attractions which would not fail to draw
within it numerous visiters; and that the head of such a family as dwelt
under its roof was not likely to be without friends.

I had not been at work upon the seine a week before I discovered, by
listening to the conversation of my master and the other members of the
family, that they prided themselves not a little upon the antiquity of
their house, and the long practice of a generous hospitality to
strangers, and to all respectable people who chose to visit their
homestead. All circumstances seemed to conspire to render this house one
of the chief seats of the fashion, the beauty, the wit, and the
gallantry of South Carolina. Scarcely an evening came but it brought a
carriage, and ladies and gentlemen and their servants; and every day
brought dashing young planters, mounted on horseback, to dine with the
family; but Sunday was the day of the week on which the house received
the greatest accession of company. My master and family were members of
the Episcopal Church, and attended service every Sunday, when the
weather was fine, at a church eight miles distant. Each of my young
masters and mistresses had a saddle-horse, and in pleasant weather they
frequently all went to church on horseback, leaving my old master and
mistress to occupy the family carriage alone. I have seen fifteen or
twenty young people come to my master's for dinner on Sunday from
church; and very often the parson, a young man of handsome appearance,
was among them. I had observed these things long before, but now I had
come to live at the house, and became more familiar with them. Three
Sundays intervened while I was at work upon the seine, and on each of
these Sundays more than twenty persons, besides the family, dined at my
master's. During these three weeks, my young masters were absent far the
greater part of the time; but I observed that they generally came home
on Sunday for dinner. My young mistresses were not from home much, and I
believe they never left the plantation unless either their father or
some one of their brothers was with them. Dinner parties were frequent
in my master's house; and on these occasions of festivity, a black man,
who belonged to a neighboring estate, and who played the violin, was
sent for. I observed that whenever this man was sent for, he came, and
sometimes even came before night, which appeared a little singular to
me, as I knew the difficulty that colored people had to encounter in
leaving the estate to which they were attached.



CHAPTER XI.


Early in March, my seine being now completed, my master told me I must
take with me three other black men, and go to the river to clear out a
fishery. This task was a disagreeable job, for it was nothing less than
dragging out of the river all the old trees and brush that had sunk to
the bottom, within the limits of our intended fishing ground.

My master's eldest son had been down the river, and had purchased two
boats, to be used at the fishery; but when I saw them, I declared them
to be totally unfit for that purpose. They were old batteaux, and so
leaky that they would not have supported the weight of a seine and the
men necessary to lay it out. I advised the building of two good canoes
from some of the large yellow pines in the woods. My advice was
accepted, and together with five others hands, I went to work at the
canoes, which we completed in less than a week.

So far things went pretty well, and I flattered myself that I should
become the head man at this new fishery, and have the command of the
other hands. I also expected that I should be able to gain some
advantage to myself, by disposing of a part of the small fish that might
be taken at the fishery. I reckoned without my host.

My master had only purchased this place a short time before he bought
me. Before that time he did not own any place on the river, fit for the
establishment of a fishery. His lands adjoined the river for more than a
mile in extent, along its margin; but an impassable morass separated the
channel of the river, from the firm ground, all along his lines. He had
cleared the highest parts of this morass, or swamp, and had here made
his rice fields; but he was as entirely cut off from the river, as if an
ocean had separated it from him.

On the day that we launched the canoes into the river, and while we were
engaged in removing some snags and old trees that had stuck in the mud,
near the shore, an ill-looking stranger came to us, and told us that our
master had sent him to take charge of the fishery, and superintend all
the work that was to be done at it. This man, by his contract with my
master, was to receive a part of all the fish caught, in lieu of wages;
and was invested with the same authority over us that was exercised by
the overseer in the cotton field.

I soon found that I had cause to regret my removal from the plantation.
It was found quite impossible to remove the old logs, and other rubbish
from the bottom of the river, without going into the water, and
wrenching them from their places with long handspikes. In performing
this work we were obliged to wade up to our shoulders, and often to dip
our very heads under water, in raising the sunken timber. However,
within less than a week, we had cleared the ground, and now began to
haul our seine. At first, we caught nothing but common river fish; but
after two or three days, we began to take shad. Of the common fish, such
as pike, perch, suckers, and others, we had the liberty of keeping as
many as we could eat; but the misfortune was, that we had no pork, or
fat of any kind, to fry them with; and for several days we contented
ourselves with boiling them on the coals, and eating them with our corn
bread and sweet potatoes. We could have lived well, if we had been
permitted to boil the shad on the coals, and eat them; for a fat shad
will dress itself in being broiled, and is very good, without any oily
substance added to it.

All the shad that we caught, were carefully taken away by a black man,
who came three times every day to the fishery, with a cart.

The master of the fishery had a family that lived several miles up the
river. In the summer time, he fished with hooks, and small nets, when
not engaged in running turpentine, in the pine woods. In the winter he
went back into the pine forest, and made tar of the dead pine trees; but
returned to the river at the opening of the spring, to take advantage of
the shad fishery. He was supposed to be one of the most skillful
fishermen on the Congrace river, and my master employed him to
superintend his new fishery, under an expectation, I presume, that as he
was to get a tenth part of all the fish that might be caught, he would
make the most of his situation. My master had not calculated with
accuracy the force of habit, nor the difficulty which men experience, in
conducting very simple affairs, of which they have no practical
knowledge.

The fish-master did very well for the interest of his employer for a few
days; compelling us to work in hauling the seine, day and night, and
scarcely permitting us to take rest enough to obtain necessary sleep. We
were compelled to work full sixteen hours every day, including Sunday;
for in the fishing season no respect is paid to Sunday by fishermen
anywhere. We had our usual quantity of bread and potatoes, with plenty
of common fish; but no shad came to our lot, nor had we anything to fry
our fish with. A broiled fresh-water fish is not very good at best,
without salt or oil; and after we had eaten them every day, for a week,
we cared very little for them.

By this time our fish-master began to relax in his discipline; not that
he became more kind to us, or required us to do less work, but to compel
us to work all night, it was necessary for him to sit up all night and
watch us. This was a degree of toil and privation to which he could not
long submit; and one evening soon after dark, he called me to him, and
told me that he intended to make me overseer of the fishery that night;
and he had no doubt I would keep the hands at work, and attend to the
business as well without him as with him. He then went into his cabin,
and went to bed; whilst I went and laid out the seine, and made a very
good haul. We took more than two hundred shad at this draught; and
followed up our work with great industry all night, only taking time to
eat our accustomed meal at midnight.

Every fisherman knows that the night is the best time for taking shad;
and the little rest that had been allowed us, since we began to fish,
had always been from eight o'clock in the morning until four in the
afternoon; unless within that period there was an appearance of a school
of fish in the river; when we had to rise, and lay out the seine, no
matter at what hour of the day. The fish-master had been very severe
with the hands since he came amongst us, and had made very free use of
a long hickory gad that he sometimes carried about with him; though at
times he would relax his austerity, and talk quite familiarly with
us,--especially with me, whom he perceived to have some knowledge of the
business in which we were engaged. The truth was, that this man knew
nothing of fishing with a seine, and I had been obliged from the
beginning to direct the operations of laying out and drawing in the
seine; though the master was always very loud and boisterous in giving
his commands, and directing us in what part of the river we should let
down the seine.

Having never been accustomed to regular work, or to the pursuit of any
constant course of personal application, the master was incapable of
long continued exertion; and I feel certain that he could not have been
prevailed upon to labor twelve hours each day, for a year, if in return
he had been certain of receiving ten thousand dollars. Notwithstanding
this, he was capable of rousing himself, and of undergoing any degree of
fatigue or privation for a short time, even for a few days. He had not
been trained to habits of industry, and could not bear the restraints of
uniform labor.

We worked hard all night, the first night of my superintendence, and
when the sun rose the next morning, the master had not risen from his
bed. As it was now the usual time of dividing the fish, I called to him
to come and see this business fairly done; but as he did not come down
immediately to the landing, I proceeded to make the division myself, in
as equitable a manner as I could: giving, however, a full share of large
fish to the master. When he came down to us, and overlooked both the
piles of fish--his own and that of my master--he was so well satisfied
with what I had done, that he said, if he had known that I would do so
well for him, he would not have risen. I was glad to hear this, as it
led me to hope that I should be able to induce him to stay in his cabin
during the greater part of the time; to do which, I was well assured, he
felt disposed.

When the night came, the master again told me he should go to bed, not
being well, and desired me to do as I had done the night before. This
night we cooked as many shad as we could all eat; but were careful to
carry, far out into the river, the scales and entrails of the stolen
fish. In the morning I made a division of the fish before I called the
master, and then went and asked him to come and see what I had done. He
was again well pleased, and now proposed to us all that if we would not
let the affair be known to our master, he would leave us to manage the
fishery at night according to our discretion. To this proposal we all
readily agreed, and I received authority to keep the other hands at
work, until the master would go and get his breakfast. I had now
accomplished the object that I had held very near my heart ever since we
began to fish at this place.

From this time to the end of the fishing season, we all lived well, and
did not perform more work than we were able to bear. I was in no fear of
being punished by the fish-master, for he was now at least as much in my
power as I was in his; for if my master had known the agreement that he
had made with us, for the purpose of enabling himself to sleep all night
in his cabin, he would have been deprived of his situation, and all the
profits of his share of the fishery.

There never can be any affinity of feeling between master and slave,
except in some few isolated cases, where the master has treated his
slave in such a manner as to have excited in him strong feelings of
gratitude; or where the slave entertains apprehensions, that by the
death of his master, or by being separated from him in any other way, he
may fall under the power of a more tyrannical ruler, or may in some
shape be worsted by the change. I was never acquainted with a slave who
believed that he violated any rule of morality by appropriating to
himself any thing that belonged to his master, if it was necessary to
his comfort. The master might call it theft, and brand it with the name
of crime; but the slave reasoned differently, when he took a portion of
his master's goods, to satisfy his hunger, keep himself warm, or to
gratify his passion for luxurious enjoyment.

The slave sees his master residing in a spacious mansion, riding in a
fine carriage, and dressed in costly clothes, and attributes the
possession of all these enjoyments to his own labor; whilst he who is
the cause of so much gratification and pleasure to another, is himself
deprived of even the necessary accommodations of human life. Ignorant
men do not and cannot reason logically; and in tracing things from cause
to effect, the slave attributes all that he sees in possession of his
master to his own toil, without taking the trouble to examine how far
the skill, judgment, and economy of his master may have contributed to
the accumulation of the wealth by which his residence is surrounded.
There is, in fact, a mutual dependence between the master and his slave.
The former could not acquire any thing without the labor of the latter,
and the latter would always remain in poverty without the judgment of
the former in directing labor to a definite and profitable result.

After I had obtained the virtual command of the fishery, I was careful
to awaken the master every morning at sunrise, that he might be present
when the division of the fish was made; and when the morning cart
arrived, that the carter might not report to my master, that the
fish-master was in bed. I had now become interested in preserving the
good opinion of my master in favor of his agent.

Since my arrival in Carolina I had never enjoyed a full meal of bacon;
and now determined, if possible, to procure such a supply of that luxury
as would enable me and all my fellow-slaves at the fishery to regale
ourselves at pleasure. At this season of the year boats frequently
passed up the river, laden with merchandise and goods of various kinds,
among which were generally large quantities of salt, intended for curing
fish, and for other purposes on the plantations. These boats also
carried bacon and salted pork up the river, for sale; but as they never
moved at night, confining their navigation to day-light, and as none of
them had hitherto stopped near our landing, we had not met with an
opportunity of entering into a traffic with any of the boat masters. We
were not always to be so unfortunate. One evening, in the second week of
the fishing season, a large keel-boat was seen working up the river
about sundown; and shortly after, came to for the night, on the opposite
side of the river, directly against our landing. We had at the fishery a
small canoe called a punt, about twelve feet long; and when we went to
lay out the seine, for the first haul after night, I attached the punt
to the side of the canoe, and when we had finished letting down the
seine, I left the other hands to work it toward the shore, and ran over
in the punt to the keel-boat. Upon inquiring of the captain if he had
any bacon that he would exchange for shad, he said, he had a little;
but, as the risk he would run in dealing with a slave was great, I must
expect to pay him more than the usual price. He at length proposed to
give me a hundred pounds of bacon for three hundred shad. This was at
least twice as much as the bacon was worth; but we did not bargain as
men generally do, where half of the bargain is on each side; for here
the captain of the keel-boat settled the terms for both parties.
However, he ran the hazard of being prosecuted for dealing with slaves,
which is a very high offence in Carolina; and I was selling that which,
in point of law, did not belong to me; but to which, nevertheless, I
felt in my conscience that I had a better right than any other person.
In support of the right, which I felt to be on my side in this case,
came a keen appetite for the bacon, which settled the controversy, upon
the question of the morality of this traffic, in my favor. It so
happened, that we made a good haul with our seine this evening, and at
the time I returned to the landing, the men were all on shore, engaged
in drawing in the seine. As soon as we had taken out the fish, we placed
three hundred of them in one of our canoes, and pushed over to the
keel-boat, where the fish were counted out, and the bacon was received
into our craft with all possible despatch. One part of this small trade
exhibited a trait of human character which I think worthy of being
noticed. The captain of the boat was a middle-aged, thin, sallow man,
with long bushy hair; and he looked like one who valued the opinions of
men but little. I expected that he would not be scrupulous in giving me
my full hundred pounds of bacon: but in this I was mistaken; for he
weighed the flitches with great exactness, in a pair of large
steelyards, and gave me good weight. When the business was ended, and
the bacon in my canoe, he told me, he hoped I was satisfied with him;
and assured me, that I should find the bacon excellent. When I was about
pushing from the boat, he told me in a low voice, though there was no
one who could hear us, except his own people--that he should be down the
river again in about two weeks, when he should be very glad to buy any
produce that I had for sale; adding, "I will give you half as much for
cotton as it is worth in Charleston, and pay you either in money or
groceries, as you may choose. Take care, and do not betray yourself, and
I shall be honest with you."

I was so much rejoiced at being in possession of a hundred pounds of
good flitch bacon, that I had no room in either my head or my heart for
the consideration of this man's notions of honesty, at the present
time; but paddled with all strength for our landing, where we took the
bacon from the canoe, stowed it away in an old salt barrel, and safely
deposited it in a hole dug for the purpose in the floor of my cabin.

About this time, our allowance of sweet potatoes was withheld from us
altogether, in consequence of the high price paid for this article by
the captains of the keel-boats; for the purpose, as I heard, of sending
them to New York and Philadelphia. Ever since Christmas we had been
permitted to draw, on each Sunday evening, either a peck of corn, as
usual, or half a peck of corn and half a bushel of sweet potatoes, at
our discretion. The half a peck of corn and the half a bushel of
potatoes was worth much more than a peck of corn; but potatoes were so
abundant this year, that they were of little value, and the saving of
corn was an object worth attending to by a large planter. The boatmen
now offered half a dollar a bushel for potatoes, and we were again
restricted to our corn ration.

Notwithstanding the privation of our potatoes, we at the fishery lived
sumptuously, although our master certainly believed that our fare
consisted of corn-bread and river fish, cooked without lard or butter.
It was necessary to be exceedingly cautious in the use of our bacon; and
to prevent the suspicions of the master and others who frequented our
landing, I enjoined our people never to fry any of the meat, but to
boil it all. No one can smell boiled bacon far; but fried flitch can be
smelled a mile by a good nose.

We had two meals every night, one of bacon and the other of fried shad,
which nearly deprived us of all appetite for the breakfasts and dinners
that we prepared in the daytime; consisting of cold corn-bread without
salt, and broiled fresh water fish, without any sort of seasoning. We
spent more than two weeks in this happy mode of life, unmolested by our
master, his son, or the master of the fishery; except when the latter
complained, rather than threatened us, because we sometimes suffered our
seine to float too far down the river, and get entangled among some
roots and brush that lay on the bottom, immediately below our fishing
ground. We now expected, every evening, to see the return of the boatman
who had sold us the bacon, and the man who was with me in the canoe at
the time we received it, had not forgotten the invitation of the captain
to trade with him in cotton on his return. My fellow-slave was a native
of Virginia, as he told me, and had been sold and brought to Carolina
about ten years before this time. He was a good-natured, kind-hearted
man, and did many acts of benevolence to me, such as one slave is able
to perform for another, and I felt a real affection for him; but he had
adopted the too common rule of moral action, that there is no harm in a
slave robbing his master.

The reader may suppose, from my account of the bacon, that I, too, had
adopted this rule as a part of my creed; but I solemnly declare, that
this was not the case, and that I never deprived any one of all the
masters that I have served, of anything against his consent, unless it
was some kind of food; and that of all I ever took, I am confident, I
have given away more than the half to my fellow-slaves, whom I knew to
be equally needy with myself.

The man who had been with me at the keel-boat told me one day, that he
had laid a plan by which we could get thirty or forty dollars, if I
would join him in the execution of his project. Thirty or forty dollars
was a large sum of money to me. I had never possessed so much money at
one time in my life; and I told him that I was willing to do anything by
which we could obtain such a treasure. He then told me, that he knew
where the mule and cart, that were used by the man who carried away our
fish, were kept at night; and that he intended to set out on the first
dark night, and go to the plantation--harness the mule to the cart--go
to the cotton-gin house--put two bags of cotton into the cart--bring
them to a thicket of small pines that grew on the river bank, a short
distance below the fishery, and leave them there until the keel-boat
should return. All that he desired of me was, to make some excuse for
his absence, to the other hands, and assist him to get his cotton into
the canoe, at the coming of the boat.

I disliked the whole scheme, both on account of its iniquity and of the
danger which attended it; but my companion was not to be discouraged by
all the arguments which I could use against it, and said, if I would not
participate in it, he was determined to undertake it alone: provided I
would not inform against him. To this I said nothing; but he had so
often heard me express my detestation of one slave betraying another,
that I presume he felt easy on that score. The next night but one after
this conversation was very dark, and when we went to lay out the seine
after night, Nero was missing. The other people inquired of me if I knew
where he was, and when I replied in the negative, little more was said
on the subject; it being common for the slaves to absent themselves from
their habitations at night, and if the matter is not discovered by the
overseer or master, nothing is ever said of it by the slaves. The other
people supposed that, in this instance, Nero had gone to see a woman
whom he lived with as his wife, on a plantation a few miles down the
river; and were willing to work a little harder to permit him to enjoy
the pleasure of seeing his family. He returned before day, and said he
had been to see his wife, which satisfied the curiosity of our
companions. The very next evening after Nero's absence, the keel-boat
descended the river, came down on our side, hailed us at the fishery,
and, drawing in to the shore below our landing, made her ropes fast
among the young pines of which I have spoken above. After we made our
first haul, I missed Nero; but he returned to us before we had laid out
the seine, and told us that he had been in the woods to collect some
_light-wood_--dry, resinous pine--which he brought on his shoulder. When
the morning came, the keel-boat was gone, and every thing wore the
ordinary aspect about our fishery; but when the man came with the mule
and the cart to take away the fish, he told us that there was great
trouble on the plantation. The overseer had discovered that some one had
stolen two bags of cotton the last night, and all the hands were
undergoing an examination on the subject. The slaves on the plantation,
one and all, denied having any knowledge of the matter, and, as there
was no evidence against any one, the overseer threatened, at the time he
left the quarter, to whip every hand on the estate, for the purpose of
making them discover who the thief was.

The slaves on the plantation differed in opinion as to the perpetrator
of this theft; but the greater number concurred in charging it upon a
free negro man, named Ishmael, who lived in a place called the White Oak
Woods, and followed making ploughs and harrow frames. He also made
handles for hoes, and the frame work of cart bodies.

This man was generally reputed a thief for a great distance round the
country, and the black people charged him with stealing the cotton on no
other evidence than his general bad character. The overseer, on the
other hand, expressed his opinion without hesitation, which was, that
the cotton had been stolen by some of the people of the plantation, and
sold to a poor white man, who resided at the distance of three miles
back in the pine woods, and was believed to have dealt with slaves, as a
receiver of their stolen goods, for many years.

This white man was one of a class of poor cottagers. The house, or
cabin, in which he resided, was built of small poles of the yellow pine,
with the bark remaining on them; the roof was of clap-boards of pine,
and the chimney was made of sticks and mud, raised to the height of
eight or ten feet. The appearance of the man and his wife was such as
one might expect to find in such a dwelling. The lowest poverty had,
through life, been the companion of these poor people, of which their
clayey complexions, haggard figures, and tattered garments gave the
strongest proof. It appeared to me that the state of destitution in
which these people lived, afforded very convincing evidence that they
were not in possession of the proceeds of the stolen goods of any
person. I had often been at the cabin of this man in my trapping
expeditions, the previous autumn and winter; and I believe the overseer
regarded the circumstance, that black people often called at his house,
as conclusive evidence that he held criminal intercourse with them.
However this might be, the overseer determined to search the premises of
this harmless forester, whom he resolved, beforehand, to treat as a
guilty man.

It being known that I was well acquainted with the woods in the
neighborhood of the cabin, I was sent for, to leave the fishery, and
come to assist in making search for the lost bags of cotton--perhaps it
was also believed that I was in the secrets of the suspected house. It
was not thought prudent to trust any of the hands on the plantation in
making the intended search, as they were considered the principal
thieves; whilst we, of the fishery, against whom no suspicion had
arisen, were required to give our assistance in ferreting out the
perpetrators of an offence of the highest grade that can be committed by
a slave on a cotton estate.

Before leaving the fishery, I advised the master to be very careful not
to let the overseer, or my master know, that he had left us to manage
the fishery at night, by ourselves; since, as a theft had been
committed, it might possibly be charged upon him, if it were known that
he had allowed us so much liberty. I said this to put the master on his
guard against surprise; and to prevent him from saying anything that
might turn the attention of the overseer to the hands at the fishery;
for I knew that if punishment were to fall amongst us, it would be quite
as likely to reach the innocent as the guilty--besides, though I was
innocent of the bags of cotton, I was guilty of the bacon, and, however
I might make distinctions between the moral turpitude of the two cases,
I knew that if discovered, they would both be treated alike.

When I arrived at the quarter, whither I repaired, in obedience to the
orders I received, I found the overseer with my master's eldest son, and
a young white man, who had been employed to repair the cotton-gin,
waiting for me. I observed when I came near the overseer, that he looked
at me very attentively, and afterwards called my young master aside, and
spoke to him in a tone of voice too low to be heard by me. The white
gentlemen then mounted their horses, and set off by the road for the
cabin of the white man. I had orders to take a short route, through the
woods and across a swamp, by which I could reach the cabin as soon as
the overseer.

The attentive examination that the overseer had given me, caused me to
feel uneasy, although I could not divine the cause of his scrutiny, nor
of the subject of the short conversation between him and my young
master. By traveling at a rapid pace, I arrived at the cabin of the
suspected man before the gentlemen, but thought it prudent not to
approach it before they came up, lest it might be imagined that I had
gone in to give information to the occupants of the danger that
threatened them.

Here I had a hard struggle with my conscience, which seemed to say to
me, that I ought at once to disclose all I knew concerning the lost bags
of cotton, for the purpose of saving these poor people from the terror
that they must necessarily feel at the sight of those who were coming to
accuse them of a great crime, perhaps from the afflictions and
sufferings attendant upon a prosecution in a court of justice. These
reflections were cut short by the arrival of the party of gentlemen, who
passed me where I sat, at the side of the path, with no other notice
than a simple command of the overseer to come on. I followed them into
the cabin, where we found the man and his wife, with two little
children, eating roasted potatoes.

The overseer saluted this family by telling them that we had come to
search the house for stolen cotton. That it was well known that he had
long been dealing with negroes, and they were now determined to bring
him to punishment. I was then ordered to tear up the floor of the cabin,
whilst the overseer mounted into the loft. I found nothing under the
floor, and the overseer had no better success above. The wife was then
advised to confess where her husband had concealed the cotton, to save
herself from being brought in as a party to the affair; but this poor
woman protested with tears that they were totally ignorant of the whole
matter. Whilst the wife was interrogated, the father stood without his
own door, trembling with fear, but, as I could perceive, indignant with
rage.

The overseer, who was fluent in the use of profane language, exerted the
highest degree of his vulgar eloquence upon these harmless people, whose
only crime was their poverty, and whose weakness alone had invited the
ruthless aggression of their powerful and rich neighbors.

Finding nothing in the house, the gentlemen set out to scour the woods
around the cabin, and commanded me to take the lead in tracing out tree
tops and thickets, where it was most likely that the stolen cotton might
be found. Our search was in vain, as I knew it would be beforehand; but
when weary of ranging in the woods, the gentlemen again returned to the
cabin, which we now found without inhabitants. The alarm caused by our
visit, and the manner in which the gentlemen had treated this lonely
family, had caused them to abandon their dwelling, and seek safety in
flight. The door of the house was closed and fastened with a string to
a nail in the post of the door. After calling several times for the
fugitives, and receiving no answer, the door was kicked open by my young
master; the few articles of miserable furniture that the cabin
contained, including a bed, made of flags, were thrown into a heap in
the corner, and fire was set to the dwelling by the overseer.

We remained until the flames had reached the roof of the cabin, when the
gentlemen mounted their horses and set off for home, ordering me to
return by the way that I had come. When we again reached the house of my
master, several gentlemen of the neighborhood had assembled, drawn
together by common interest that is felt amongst the planters to punish
theft, and particularly a theft of cotton in the bag. My young master
related to his neighbors, with great apparent satisfaction, the exploits
of the morning; said he had routed one receiver of stolen goods out of
the country, and that all others of his character ought to be dealt with
in the same manner. In this opinion all the gentlemen present concurred,
and after much conversation on the subject, it was agreed to call a
general meeting for the purpose of devising the best, surest and most
peaceful method of removing from the country the many white men who,
residing in the district without property, or without interest in
preserving the morals of the slaves, were believed to carry on an
unlawful and criminal traffic with the negroes, to the great injury of
the planters in general, and of the masters of the slaves who dealt with
the offenders in particular.

I was present at this preliminary consultation, which took place at my
master's cotton-gin, whither the gentlemen had repaired for the purpose
of looking at the place where the cotton had been removed. So many cases
of this forbidden traffic between the slaves and these "white negro
dealers," as they were termed, were here related by the different
gentlemen, and so many white men were referred to by name as being
concerned in this criminal business, that I began to suppose the losses
of the planters in this way must be immense. This conference continued
until I had totally forgotten the scrutinizing look that I had received
from our overseer at the time I came up from the fishery in the morning;
but the period had now come when I again was to be reminded of this
circumstance, for on a sudden the overseer called me to come forward and
let the gentlemen see me. I again felt a sort of vague and undefinable
apprehension that no good was to grow out of this examination of my
person, but a command of our overseer was not to be disobeyed. After
looking at my face, with a kind of leer or side glance, one of the
gentlemen, who was an entire stranger to me, and whom I had never before
seen, said, "Boy, you appear to live well; how much meat does your
master allow you in a week?" I was almost totally confounded at the name
of meat, and felt the blood rush to my heart, but nevertheless forced a
sort of smile upon my face, and replied, "My master has been very kind
to all his people of late, but has not allowed us any meat for some
weeks. We have plenty of good bread, and abundance of river fish, which,
together with the heads and roes of the shad that we have salted at the
landing, makes a very excellent living for us; though if master would
please to give us a little meat now and then, we should be very thankful
for it."

This speech, which contained all the eloquence I was master of at the
time, seemed to produce some effect in my favor, for the gentleman said
nothing in reply, until the overseer, rising from a board on which he
had been sitting, came close up to me and said, "Charles, you need not
tell lies about it; you have been eating meat, I know you have, no negro
could look as fat, and sleek, and black, and greasy, as you, if he had
nothing to eat but corn bread and river chubs. You do not look at all as
you did before you went to the fishery; and all the hands on the
plantation have had as many chubs and other river fish as they could
eat, as well as you, and yet they are as poor as snakes in comparison
with you. Come, tell the truth, let us know where you get the meat that
you have been eating, and you shall not be whipped." I begged the
overseer and the other gentlemen not to ridicule or make sport of me,
because I was a poor slave, and was obliged to live on bread and fresh
water fish; and concluded this second harangue by expressing my
thankfulness to God Almighty, for giving me such good health and
strength as to enable me to do my work, and look so well as I did upon
such poor fare; adding, that if I only had as much bacon as I could eat,
they would soon see a man of a different appearance from that which I
now exhibited. "None of your palaver," rejoined the overseer--"Why, I
smell the meat in you this moment. Do I not see the grease as it runs
out of your face?" I was by this time in a profuse sweat, caused by the
anxiety of my feelings, and simply said, "Master sees me sweat, I
suppose."

All the gentlemen present then declared, with one accord, that I must
have been living on meat for a long time, as no negro, who had no meat
to eat, could look as I did; and one of the company advised the overseer
to whip me, and compel me to confess the truth. I have no doubt but this
advice would have been practically followed, had it not been for a happy
though dangerous suggestion of my own mind, at this moment. It was no
other than a proposal on my part, that I should be taken to the landing,
and if all the people there did not look as well and as much like
meat-eaters as I did, then I would agree to be whipped in any way the
gentlemen should deem expedient. This offer on my part was instantly
accepted by the gentlemen, and it was agreed among them that they would
all go to the landing with the overseer, partly for the purpose of
seeing me condemned by the judgment to which I had voluntarily chosen to
submit myself, and partly for the purpose of seeing my master's new
fishery.

We were quickly at the landing, though four miles distant; and I now
felt confident that I should escape the dangers that beset me, provided
the master of the fishery did not betray his own negligence and lead
himself, as well as others, into new troubles.

Though on foot, I was at the landing as soon as the gentlemen, and was
first to announce to the master the feats we had performed in the course
of the day, adding, with great emphasis, and even confidence in my
manner, "You know, master fish-master, whether we have had any meat to
eat here or not. If we had meat here, would not you see it? You have
been up with us every night, and know that we have not been allowed to
take even shad, let alone having meat to eat." The fish-master supported
me in all I said; declared we had been good boys--had worked night and
day, of his certain knowledge, as he had been with us all night and
every night since we began to fish. That he had not allowed us to eat
anything but fresh water fish, and the heads and roes of the shad that
were salted at the landing. As to meat, he said he was willing to be
qualified on a cart-load of Testaments that there had not been a pound
at the landing since the commencement of the season, except that which
he had in his own cabin. I had now acquired confidence, and desired the
gentlemen to look at Nero and the other hands, all of whom has as much
the appearance of bacon eaters as myself. This was the truth, especially
with regard to one of the men, who was much fatter than I was.

The gentlemen now began to doubt the evidence of their own senses, which
they had held infallible heretofore. I showed the fine fish that we had
to eat; cat, perch, mullets, and especially two large pikes, that had
been caught to-day, and assured them that upon such fare as this, men
must needs get fat. I now perceived that victory was with me for once.
All the gentlemen faltered, hesitated, and began to talk of other
affairs, except the overseer, who still ran about the landing, swearing
and scratching his head, and saying it was strange that we were so fat,
whilst the hands on the plantation were as lean as sand-hill cranes. He
was obliged to give the affair over. He was no longer supported by my
young master and his companions, all of whom congratulated themselves
upon a discovery so useful and valuable to the planting interest; and
all determined to provide, as soon as possible, a proper supply of fresh
river fish for their hands.

The two bales of cotton were never once named, and, I suppose, were not
thought of by the gentlemen, when at the landing; and this was well for
Nero; for such was the consternation and terror into which he was thrown
by the presence of the gentlemen, and their inquiries concerning our
eating of meat, that the sweat rolled off him like rain from the plant
_neverwet_; his countenance was wild and haggard, and his knees shook
like the wooden spring of a wheat-fan. I believe, that if they had
charged him at once with stealing the cotton, he would have confessed
the deed.



CHAPTER XII.


After this the fishing season passed off without anything having
happened, worthy of being noticed here. When we left the fishery and
returned to the plantation, which was after the middle of April, the
corn and cotton had been planted, and the latter had been replanted. I
was set to plough, with two mules for my team; and having never been
accustomed to ploughing with these animals, I had much trouble with them
at first. My master owned more than forty mules, and at this season of
the year, they were all at work in the cotton field, used instead of
horses for drawing ploughs. Some of the largest were hitched single to a
plough; but the smallest were coupled together.

On the whole, the fishery had been a losing affair with me; for although
I had lived better at the landing than I usually did at the plantation,
yet I had been compelled to work all the time, by night and by day,
including Sunday, for my master; by which I had lost all that I could
have earned for my own benefit, had I been on the plantation. I had now
become so well acquainted with the rules of the plantation and the
customs of the country where I lived, that I experienced less distress
than I did at my first coming to the South.

We now received a shad every Sunday evening with our peck of corn. The
fish were those that I had caught in the spring, and were tolerably
preserved. In addition to all this, each one of the hands now received a
pint of vinegar every week. This vinegar was a great comfort to me. As
the weather became hot, I gathered lettuce and other salads, from my
garden in the woods; which, with the vinegar and bread, furnished me
many a cheerful meal. The vinegar had been furnished to us by our
master, more out of regard to our health than to our comfort, but it
greatly promoted both.

The affairs of the plantation now went on quietly, until after the
cotton had been ploughed and hoed the first time, after replanting. The
working of the cotton crop is not disagreeable labor--no more so than
the culture of corn--but we were called upon to perform a kind of labor,
than which none can be more toilsome to the body or dangerous to the
health.

I have elsewhere informed the reader that my master was a cultivator of
rice as well as of cotton. Whilst I was at the fishery in the spring,
thirty acres of swamp land had been cleared off, ploughed and planted in
rice. The water had now been turned off the plants, and the field was to
be ploughed and hoed. When we were taken to the rice field, the weather
was very hot, and the ground was yet muddy and wet. The ploughs were to
be dragged through the wet soil, and the young rice had to be cleaned of
weeds, by the hand, and hilled up with the hoe.

It is the common opinion, that no stranger can work a week in a rice
swamp, at this season of the year, without becoming sick; and all the
new hands, three in number, besides myself, were taken ill within the
first five days after we had entered this field. The other three were
removed to the sick room; but I did not go there, choosing rather to
remain at the quarter, where I was my own master, except that the
doctor, who called to see me, took a large quantity of blood from my
arm, and compelled me to take a dose of some sort of medicine that made
me very sick, and caused me to vomit violently. This happened on the
second day of my illness, and from this time I recovered slowly, but was
not able to go to the field again for more than a week. Here it is but
justice to my master to say, that during all the time of my illness,
some one came from the great house every day to inquire after me, and to
offer me some kind of light and cool refreshment. I might have gone to
the sick room at any time, if I had chosen to do so.

An opinion generally prevails among the people of both colors, that the
drug _copperas_ is very poisonous--and perhaps it may be so, if taken in
large quantities--but the circumstance, that it is used in medicine,
seems to forbid the notion of its poisonous qualities. I believe
copperas was mingled with the potion the doctor gave me. Some overseers
keep copperas by them, as a medicine, to be administered to the hands
whenever they become sick; but this I take to be a bad practice, for
although, in some cases, this drug may be very efficacious, it certainly
should be administered by a more skillful hand than that of an overseer.
It, however, has the effect of deterring the people from complaining of
illness, until they are no longer able to work; for it is the most
nauseous and sickening medicine that was ever taken into the stomach.
Ignorant, or malicious overseer may, and often do, misapply it, as was
the case with our overseer, when he compelled poor Lydia to take a
draught of its solution. After the restoration of my health, I resumed
my accustomed labor in the field, and continued it without intermission,
until I left this plantation.

We had this year, as a part of our crop, ten acres of indigo. This plant
is worked nearly after the manner of rice, except that it is planted on
high and dry ground, whilst the rice is always cultivated in low
swamps, where the ground may be inundated with water; but
notwithstanding its location on dry ground, the culture of indigo is not
less unpleasant than that of rice. When the rice is ripe, and ready for
the sickle, it is no longer disagreeable; but when the indigo is ripe
and ready to cut, the troubles attendant upon it have only commenced.

The indigo plant bears more resemblance to the weed called wild indigo,
which is common in the woods of Pennsylvania, than to any other herb
with which I am acquainted.

The root of the indigo plant is long and slender, and emits a scent
somewhat like that of parsley. From the root issues a single stem,
straight, hard, and slender, covered with a bark, a little cracked on
its surface, of a gray color towards the bottom, green in the middle,
reddish at the extremity, and without the appearance of pith in the
inside. The leaves ranged in pairs around the stalk, are of an oval
form--smooth, soft to the touch, furrowed above, and of a deep green on
the under side. The upper parts of the plant are loaded with small
flowers, destitute of smell. Each flower changes into a pod, enclosing
seed.

This plant thrives best in a rich, moist soil. The seeds are black, very
small, and sowed in straight drills. This crop requires very careful
culture, and must be kept free from every kind of weeds and grass. It
ripens within less than three months from the time it is sown. When it
begins to flower, the top is cut off, and, as new flowers appear, the
plant is again pruned, until the end of the season.

Indigo impoverishes land more rapidly than almost any other crop, and
the plant must be gathered in with great caution, for fear of shaking
off the valuable farina that lies in the leaves. When gathered, it is
thrown into the steeping vat--a large tub filled with water--here it
undergoes a fermentation, which, in twenty-four hours at farthest, is
completed. A cock is then turned to let the water run into the second
tub, called the mortar, or pounding tub: the steeping vat is then
cleaned out, that fresh plants may be thrown in, and thus the work is
continued without interruption. The water in the pounding tub is stirred
with wooden buckets, with holes in their bottoms, for several days; and,
after the sediment contained in the water has settled to the bottom of
the tub, the water is let off, and the sediment, which is the indigo of
commerce, is gathered into bags, and hung up to drain. It is afterwards
pressed, and laid away to dry in cakes, and then packed in chests for
market.

Washing at the tubs is exceedingly unpleasant, both on account of the
filth and the stench arising from the decomposition of the plants.

In the early part of June, our shad, that each one had been used to
receive, was withheld from us, and we no longer received any thing but
the peck of corn and pint of vinegar. This circumstance, in a community
less severely disciplined than ours, might have procured murmurs; but to
us it was only announced by the fact of the fish not being distributed
to us on Sunday evening.

This was considered a fortunate season by our people. There had been no
exemplary punishment inflicted amongst us for several months; we had
escaped entirely upon the occasion of the stolen bags of cotton, though
nothing less was to have been looked for, on that occurrence, than a
general whipping of the whole gang.

There was more or less of whipping amongst us every week; frequently one
was flogged every evening, over and above the punishments that followed
on each settlement day; but these chastisements, which seldom exceeded
ten or twenty lashes, were of little import. I was careful, for my own
part, to conform to all the regulations of the plantation.

When I no longer received my fish from the overseer, I found it
necessary again to resort to my own expedients for the purpose of
procuring something in the shape of animal food, to add to my bread and
greens.

I had, by this time, become well acquainted with the woods and swamps
for several miles round our plantation; and this being the season when
the turtles came upon the land, to deposit their eggs, I availed myself
of it, and going out one Sunday morning, caught, in the course of the
day, by traveling cautiously around the edges of the swamps, ten
snapping turtles, four of which were very large. As I caught these
creatures, I tied each one with hickory bark, and hung it up to the
bough of a tree, so that I could come and carry it home at my leisure.

I afterwards carried my turtles home, and put them into a hole that I
dug in the ground, four or five feet deep, and secured the sides by
driving small pieces of split timber into the ground, quite round the
circumference of the hole, the upper ends of the timber standing out
above the ground. Into this hole I poured water at pleasure, and kept my
turtles until I needed them.

On the next Sunday, I again went to the swamps to search for turtles;
but as the period of laying their eggs had nearly passed, I had poor
success to-day, only taking two turtles of the species called
skill-pots--a kind of large terrapin, with a speckled back and red
belly.

This day, when I was three or four miles from home, in a very solitary
part of the swamps, I heard the sound of bells, similar to those which
wagoners place on the shoulders of their horses. At first, the noise of
bells of this kind, in a place where they were so unexpected, alarmed
me, as I could not imagine who or what it was that was causing these
bells to ring. I was standing near a pond of water, and listening
attentively; I thought the bells were moving in the woods, and coming
toward me. I therefore crouched down upon the ground, under cover of a
cluster of small bushes that were near me, and lay, not free from
disquietude, to await the near approach of these mysterious bells.

Sometimes they were quite silent for a minute or more at a time, and
then again would jingle quick, but not loud. They were evidently
approaching me; and at length I heard footsteps distinctly in the
leaves, which lay dry upon the ground. A feeling of horror seized me at
this moment, for I now recollected that I was on the verge of the swamp,
near which the vultures and carrion crows had mangled the living bodies
of the two murderers; and my terror was not abated, when, a moment
after, I saw come from behind a large tree the form of a brawny,
famished-looking black man, entirely naked, with his hair matted and
shaggy, his eyes wild and rolling, and bearing over his head something
in the form of an arch, elevated three feet above his hair, beneath the
top of which were suspended the bells, three in number, whose sound had
first attracted my attention. Upon a closer examination of this
frightful figure, I perceived that it wore a collar of iron about its
neck, with a large padlock pendant from behind, and carried in its hand
a long staff, with an iron spear in one end. The staff, like every thing
else belonging to this strange spectre, was black. It slowly approached
within ten paces of me, and stood still.

The sun was now down, and the early twilight produced by the gloom of
the heavy forest, in the midst of which I was, added approaching
darkness to heighten my dismay. My heart was in my mouth; all the hairs
of my head started from their sockets; I seemed to be rising from my
hiding place into the open air in spite of myself, and I gasped for
breath.

The black apparition moved past me, went to the water and kneeled down.
The forest re-echoed with the sound of the bells, and their dreadful
peals filled the deepest recesses of the swamps, as their bearer drank
the water of the pond, in which I thought I heard his irons hiss, when
they came in contact with it. I felt confident that I was now in the
immediate presence of an inhabitant of a nether and fiery world, who had
been permitted to escape, for a time, from the place of torment, and
come to revisit the scenes of his former crimes. I now gave myself up
for lost, without other aid than my own, and began to pray aloud to
heaven to protect me. At the sound of my voice, the supposed evil one
appeared to be scarcely less alarmed than I was. He sprang to his feet,
and, at a single bound, rushed middeep into the water, then turning, he
besought me in a suppliant and piteous tone of voice, to have mercy upon
him, and not carry him back to his master.

The suddenness with which we pass from the extreme of one passion, to
the utmost bounds of another, is inconceivable, and must be assigned to
the catalogue of unknown causes and effects, unless we suppose the human
frame to be an involuntary machine, operated upon by surrounding objects
which give it different and contrary impulses, as a ball is driven to
and fro by the batons of boys, when they play in troops upon a common. I
had no sooner heard a human voice than all my fears fled, as a spark
that ascends from a heap of burning charcoal, and vanishes to nothing.

I at once perceived, that the object that had well nigh deprived me of
my reason, so far from having either the will or the power to injure me,
was only a poor destitute African negro, still more wretched and
helpless than myself.

Rising from the bushes, I now advanced to the water side, and desired
him to come out without fear, and to be assured that if I could render
him any assistance, I would do it most cheerfully. As to carrying him
back to his master, I was more ready to ask help to deliver me from my
own, than to give aid to any one in forcing him back to his.

We now went to a place in the forest, where the ground was, for some
distance, clear of trees, and where the light of the sun was yet so
strong, that every object could be seen. My new friend now desired me to
look at his back, which was seamed and ridged with scars of the whip,
and the hickory, from the pole of his neck to the lower extremity of the
spine. The natural color of the skin had disappeared, and was succeeded
by a streaked and speckled appearance of dusky white and pale
flesh-color, scarcely any of the original, black remaining. The skin of
this man's back had been again and again cut away by the thong, and
renewed by the hand of nature, until it was grown fast to the flesh, and
felt hard and turbid.

He told me his name was Paul; that he was a native of Congo, in Africa,
that he had left an aged mother, a widow, at home, as also a wife and
four children; that it had been his misfortune to fall into the hands of
a master, who was frequently drunk, and whose temper was so savage, that
his chief delight appeared to consist in whipping and torturing his
slaves, of whom he owned near twenty; but through some unaccountable
caprice, he had contracted a particular dislike against Paul, whose life
he now declared to me was insupportable. He had then been wandering in
the woods, more than three weeks, with no other subsistence than the
land tortoises, frogs, and other reptiles that he had taken in the
woods, and along the shores of the ponds, with the aid of his spear. He
had not been able to take any of the turtles in the laying season,
because the noise of his bells frightened them, and they always escaped
to the water before he could catch them. He had found many eggs, which
he had eaten raw, having no fire, nor any means of making fire, to cook
his food. He had been afraid to travel much in the middle of the day,
lest the sound of his bells should be heard by some one, who would make
his master acquainted with the place of his concealment. The only
periods when he ventured to go in search of food, were early in the
morning, before people could have time to leave their homes and reach
the swamp: or late in the evening, after those who were in pursuit of
him had gone to their dwellings for the night.

This man spoke our language imperfectly, but possessed a sound and
vigorous understanding, and reasoned with me upon the propriety of
destroying a life which was doomed to continual distress. He informed me
that he had first run away from his master more than two years ago,
after being whipped with long hickory switches until he fainted. That he
concealed himself in a swamp, at that time, ten or fifteen miles from
this place, for more than six months, but was finally betrayed by a
woman whom he sometimes visited; that when taken, he was again whipped
until he was not able to stand, and had a heavy block of wood chained to
one foot, which he was obliged to drag after him at his daily labor, for
more than three months, when he found an old file, with which he cut the
irons from his ancle, and again escaped to the woods, but was retaken
within little more than a week after his flight, by two men who were
looking after their cattle, and came upon him in the woods where he was
asleep.

On being returned to his master, he was again whipped, and then the iron
collar that he now wore, with the iron rod extending from one shoulder
over his head to the other, with the bells fastened at the top of the
arch, were put upon him. Of these irons he could not divest himself, and
wore them constantly from that time to the present.

I had no instruments with me to enable me to release Paul from his
manacles, and all I could do for him was to desire him to go with me to
the place where I had left my terrapins, which I gave to him, together
with all the eggs that I had found to-day. I also caused him to lie
down, and having furnished myself with a flint-stone, (many of which lay
in the sand near the edge of the pond) and a handful of dry moss, I
succeeded in striking fire from the iron collar, and made a fire of
sticks, upon which he could roast the terrapins and the eggs. It was
now quite dark, and I was full two miles from my road, with no path to
guide me towards home, but the small traces made in the woods by the
cattle.

I advised Paul to bear his misfortunes as well as he could, until the
next Sunday, when I would return and bring with me a file, and other
things necessary to the removal of his fetters.

I now set out alone, to make my way home, not without some little
feeling of trepidation, as I passed along in the dark shade of the pine
trees, and thought of the terrific deeds that had been done in these
woods.

This was the period of the full moon, which now rose and cast her
brilliant rays through the tops of the trees that overhung my way, and
enveloped my path in a gloom more cheerless than the obscurity of total
darkness. The path I traveled led by sinuosities around the margin of
the swamp, and finally ended at the extremity of the cart-road
terminating at the spot where David and Hardy had been given alive for
food to vultures; and over this ground I was now obliged to pass, unless
I chose to turn far to the left, through the pathless forest, and make
my way to the high road near the spot where the lady had been torn from
her horse. I hated the idea of acknowledging to my own heart, that I was
a coward, and dared not look upon the bones of a murderer at midnight;
and there was little less of awe attached to the notion of visiting the
ground where the ghost of the murdered woman was reported to wander in
the moonbeams, than in visiting the scene where diabolical crimes had
been visited by fiend-like punishment.

My opinion is, that there is no one who is not at times subject to a
sensation approaching fear, when placed in situations similar to that in
which I found myself this night. I did not believe that those who had
passed the dark line, which separates the living from the dead, could
again return to the earth, either for good or for evil; but that solemn
foreboding of the heart which directs the minds of all men to a
contemplation of the just judgment, which a superior, and unknown power,
holds in reservation for the deeds of this life, filled my soul with a
dread conception of the unutterable woes which a righteous and unerring
tribunal must award to the blood-stained spirits of the two men whose
lives had been closed in such unspeakable torment by the side of the
path I was now treading.

The moon had risen high above the trees and shone with a clear and
cloudless light; the whole firmament of heaven was radiant with the
lustre of a mild and balmy summer evening. Save only the droppings of
the early dew from the lofty branches of the trees into the water, which
lay in shallow pools on my right, and the light trampling of my own
footsteps, the stillness of night pervaded the lonely wastes around me.
But there is a deep melancholy in the sound of the heavy drop as it
meets the bosom of the wave in a dense forest at night, that revives in
the memory the recollection of the days of other years, and fills the
heart with sadness.

I was now approaching the unhallowed ground where lay the remains of the
remorseless and guilty dead, who had gone to their final account,
reeking in their sins, unatoned, unblest and unwept. Already I saw the
bones, whitened by the rain and bleached in the sun, lying scattered and
dispersed, a leg here and an arm there, while a scull with the under jaw
in its place, retaining all its teeth, grinned a ghastly laugh, with its
front full in the beams of the moon, which, falling into the vacant
sockets of the eye-balls, reflected a pale shadow from these deserted
caverns, and played in twinkling lustre upon the bald and skinless
forehead.

In a moment, the night-breeze agitated the leaves of the wood and moaned
in dreary sighs through the lofty pine tops; the gale shook the forest
in the depth of its solitudes: a cloud swept across the moon, and her
light disappeared; a flock of carrion crows disturbed in their roosts,
flapped their wings and fluttered over my head; and a wolf, who had been
knawing the dry bones, greeted the darkness with a long and dismal
howl.

I felt the blood chill in my veins, and all my joints shuddered, as if I
had been smitten by electricity. At least a minute elapsed before I
recovered the power of self-government. I hastened to fly from a place
devoted to crime, where an evil genius presided in darkness over a fell
assembly of howling wolves, and blood-snuffing vultures.

When I arrived at the quarter, all was quiet. The inhabitants of this
mock-village were wrapped in forgetfulness; and I stole silently into my
little loft and joined my neighbors in their repose. Experience had made
me so well acquainted with the dangers that beset the life of a slave,
that I determined, as a matter of prudence, to say nothing to any one of
the adventures of this Sunday, but went to work on Monday morning, at
the summons of the overseer's horn, as if nothing unusual had occurred.
In the course of the week I often thought of the forlorn and desponding
African, who had so terrified me in the woods, and who seemed so
grateful for the succor I gave him. I felt anxious to become better
acquainted with this man, who possessed knowledge superior to the common
race of slaves, and manifested a moral courage in the conversation that
I had with him, worthy of a better fate than that to which fortune had
consigned him. On the following Sunday, having provided myself with a
large file, which I procured from the blacksmith's shop, belonging to
the plantation, I again repaired to the place, at the side of the swamp,
where I had first seen the figure of this ill-fated man. I expected that
he would be in waiting for me at the appointed place, as I had promised
him that I would certainly come again, at this time: but on arriving at
the spot where I had left him, I saw no sign of any person. The remains
of the fire I had kindled were here, and it seemed that the fire had
been kept up for several days, by the quantity of ashes that lay in a
heap, surrounded by numerous small brands. The impressions of human feet
were thickly disposed around this decayed fire: and the bones of the
terrapins that I had given to Paul, as well as the skeletons of many
frogs, were scattered upon the ground, but there was nothing that showed
that any one had visited this spot, since the fall of the last rain,
which I now recollected had taken place on the previous Thursday. From
this circumstance I concluded, that Paul had relieved himself of his
irons and gone to seek concealment in some other place, or that his
master had discovered his retreat and carried him back to the
plantation.

Whilst standing at the ashes I heard the croaking of ravens at some
distance in the woods, and immediately afterwards a turkey-buzzard
passed over me pursued by an eagle, coming from the quarter in which I
had just heard the ravens. I knew that the eagle never pursued the
buzzard for the purpose of preying upon him, but only to compel him to
disgorge himself of his own prey for the benefit of the king of birds. I
therefore concluded that there was some dead animal in my neighborhood
that had called all these ravenous fowls together. It might be that Paul
had killed a cow by knocking her down with a pine knot, and that he had
removed his residence to this slaughtered animal. Curiosity was aroused
in me, and I proceeded to examine the woods.

I had not advanced more than two hundred yards when I felt oppressed by
a most sickening stench, and saw the trees swarming with birds of prey,
buzzards perched upon their branches, ravens sailing amongst their
boughs, and clouds of carrion crows flitting about, and poising
themselves in the air in a stationary position, after the manner of that
most nauseous of all birds, when it perceives, or thinks it perceives,
some object of prey. Proceeding onward, I came in view of a large
sassafras tree, around the top of which was congregated a cloud of
crows, some on the boughs and others on the wing, whilst numerous
buzzards were sailing low and nearly skimming the ground. This sassafras
tree had many low horizontal branches, attached to one of which I now
saw the cause of so vast an assembly of the obscene fowls of the air.
The lifeless and putrid body of the unhappy Paul hung suspended by a
cord made of twisted hickory bark, passed in the form of a halter round
the neck, and firmly bound to a limb of the tree.

It was manifest that he had climbed the tree, fastened the cord to the
branch, and then sprung off.--The smell that assailed my nostrils was
too overwhelming to permit me to remain long in view of the dead body,
which was much mangled and torn, though its identity was beyond
question, for the iron collar, and the bells with the arch that bore
them, were still in their place. The bells had preserved the corpse from
being devoured; for whilst I looked at it I observed a crow descend upon
it, and make a stroke at the face with its beak, but the motion that
this gave to the bells caused them to rattle, and the bird took to
flight.

Seeing that I could no longer render assistance to Paul, who was now
beyond the reach of his master's tyranny, as well as of my pity, I
returned without delay to my master's house, and going into the kitchen,
related to the household servants that I had found a black man hung in
the woods with bells upon him.--This intelligence was soon communicated
to my master, who sent for me to come into the house to relate the
circumstance to him. I was careful not to tell that I had seen Paul
before his death; and when I had finished my narrative, my master
observed to a gentleman who was with him, that this was a heavy loss to
the owner, and told me to go.

The body of Paul was never taken down, but remained hanging where I had
seen it until the flesh fell from the bones, or was torn off by the
birds. I saw the bones hanging in the sassafras tree more than two
months afterwards, and the last time that I was ever in these swamps.



CHAPTER XIII.


An affair was now in progress, which, though the persons who were actors
in it were far removed from me, had in its effects a great influence
upon the fortunes of my life. I have informed the reader that my master
had three daughters, and that the second of the sisters was deemed a
great beauty. The eldest of the three was married about the time of
which I now write, to a planter of great wealth, who resided near
Columbia; but the second had formed an attachment to a young gentleman
whom she had frequently seen at the church attended by my master's
family. As this young man, either from want of wealth, or proper persons
to introduce him, had never been at my master's house, my young mistress
had no opportunity of communicating to him the sentiments she
entertained towards him, without violating the rules of modesty in which
she had been educated. Before she would attempt any thing which might be
deemed a violation of the decorum of her sex, she determined to take a
new method of obtaining a husband. She communicated to her father, my
master, a knowledge of the whole affair, with a desire that he would
invite the gentleman of her choice to his house. This the father
resolutely opposed, upon the ground that the young man upon whom his
daughter had fixed her heart was without property, and consequently
destitute of the means of supporting his daughter in a style suitable to
the rank she occupied in society. A woman in love is not easily foiled
in her purposes; my young mistress, by continual entreaties, so far
prevailed over the affections, or more probably the fears of her father,
that he introduced the young man to his family, and about two months
afterwards my young mistress was a bride; but it had been agreed amongst
all the parties, as I understood, before the marriage, that as the
son-in-law had no land or slaves of his own, he should remove with his
wife to a large tract of land that my master owned in the new purchase
in the State of Georgia.

In the month of September, my master came to the quarter one evening, at
the time of our return from the field, in company with his son-in-law,
and informed me that he had given me, with a number of others of his
slaves, to his daughter: and that I, with eight other men and two or
three women, must set out on the next Sunday with my new master, for
his estate in Georgia, whither we were to go, to clear land, build
houses, and make other improvements, necessary for the reception of the
newly married lady, in the following spring.

I was much pleased with the appearance and manners of my new master, who
was a young man apparently about twenty-seven or eight years old, and of
good figure. We were to take with us, in our expedition to Georgia, a
wagon, to be drawn by six mules, and I was appointed to drive the team.
Before we set off my young mistress came in person to the quarter, and
told us that all those who were going to the new settlement must come to
the house, where she furnished each of us with two full suits of
clothes, one of coarse woollen, and the other of hempen cloth. She also
gave a hat to each of us, and two pairs of shoes, with a trifle in
money, and enjoined us to be good boys and girls, and get things ready
for her, and that when she should come to live with us we should not be
forgotten. The conduct of this young lady was so different from that
which I had been accustomed to witness since I came to Carolina, that I
considered myself highly fortunate in becoming her slave, and now
congratulated myself with the idea that I should, in future, have a
mistress who would treat me kindly, and if I behaved well, would not
permit me to want.

At the time appointed we set out for Georgia, with all the tools and
implements necessary to the prosecution of a new settlement. My young
master accompanied us, and traveled slowly for several days to enable me
to keep up with him. We continued our march in this order until we
reached the Savannah river at the town of Augusta, where my master told
me that he was so well satisfied with my conduct, that he intended to
leave me with the team to bring on the goods and the women and children;
but that he would take the men and push on as fast as possible, to the
new settlement, and go to work until the time of my arrival. He gave me
directions to follow on and inquire for Morgan county Court House, and
said that he would have a person ready there on my arrival to guide me
to him and the people with him. He then gave me twenty dollars to buy
food for the mules and provisions for myself and those with me, and left
me on the high road master of myself and the team. I was resolved that
this striking proof of confidence on the part of my master should not be
a subject of regret to him, and pursued my route with the greatest
diligence, taking care to lay out as little money as possible for such
things as I had to buy. On the sixth day, in the morning, I arrived at
our new settlement in the middle of a heavy forest of such timber as is
common to that country, with three dollars and twenty-five cents in my
pocket, part of the money given to me at Augusta. This I offered to
return, but my master refused to take it, and told me to keep it for my
good conduct. I now felt assured that all my troubles in this world were
ended, and that, in future, I might look forward to a life of happiness
and ease, for I did not consider labor any hardship, if I was well
provided with good food and clothes, and my other wants properly
regarded.

My master and the people who were with him had, before our arrival with
the wagon, put up the logs of two cabins, and were engaged, when we
came, in covering one of them with clapboards. In the course of the next
day we completed both these cabins, with puncheon floors and small glass
windows, the sash and glass for which I had brought in the wagon. We put
up two other cabins, and a stable for the mules, and then began to clear
land. After a few days my master told me he meant to go down into the
settlements to buy provisions for the winter, and that he should leave
me to oversee the hands, and carry on the work in his absence. He
accordingly left us, taking with him the wagon and two boys, one to
drive the team, and another to drive cattle and hogs, which he intended
to buy and drive to our settlement. I now felt myself almost proprietor
of our new establishment, and believe the men left under my charge did
not consider me a very lenient overseer. I in truth compelled them to
work very hard, as I did myself. At the end of a week my master returned
with a heavy load of meal and bacon, with salt and other things that we
needed, and the day following a white man drove to our station several
cows and more than twenty hogs, the greater part of which were breeders.
At this season of the year neither the hogs nor the cattle required any
feeding at our hands. The woods were full of nuts, and the grass was
abundant; but we gave salt to our stock, and kept the hogs in a pen two
or three days, to accustom them to the place.

We now lived very differently from what we did on my old master's
plantation. We had as much bacon every day as we could eat, which,
together with bread and sweet potatoes, which we had at will,
constituted our fare. My master remained with us more than two months;
within which time we had cleared forty acres of ground, ready for the
plough; but, a few days before Christmas, an event took place, which, in
its consequences, destroyed all my prospects of happiness, and totally
changed the future path of my life. A messenger one day came to our
settlement with a letter, which had been forwarded in this manner, by
the postmaster at the Court House, where the post-office was kept. This
letter contained intelligence of the sudden death of my old master, and
that difficulties had arisen in the family which required the immediate
attention of my young one. The letter was written by my mistress. My
master forthwith took an account of the stock of provisions and other
things that he had on hand, and putting the whole under my charge, gave
me directions to attend to the work, and set off on horseback that
evening; promising to return within one month at furthest. We never saw
him again, and heard nothing of him until late in the month of January,
when the eldest son of my late master came to our settlement in company
with a strange gentleman. The son of my late master informed me, to my
surprise and sorrow, that my young master, who had brought us to
Georgia, was dead; and that he and the gentleman with him, were
administrators of the deceased, and had come to Georgia for the purpose
of letting out on lease, for the period of seven years, our place, with
all the people on it, including me.

To me, the most distressing part of this news was the death of my young
master, and I was still more sorry when I learned that he had been
killed in a duel. My young mistress, whose beauty had drawn around her
numerous suitors, many of whom were men of base minds and cowardly
hearts, had chosen her husband, in the manner I have related, and his
former rivals, after his return from Georgia, confederated together, for
the dastardly purpose of revenging themselves, of both husband and
wife, by the murder of the former.

In all parts of the cotton country there are numerous taverns, which
answer the double purpose of drinking and gambling houses. These places
are kept by men who are willing to abandon all pretensions to the
character and standing of gentlemen, for the hope of sordid gain, and
are frequented by all classes of planters, though it is not to be
understood that all the planters resort to these houses. There are men
of high and honorable virtue among the planters, who equally detest the
mean cupidity of the men who keep these houses, and the silly wickedness
of those who support them. Billiards is the game regarded as the most
polite amongst men of education and fashion; but cards, dice and every
kind of game, whether of skill or of hazard, are openly played in these
sinks of iniquity. So far as my knowledge extends, there is not a single
district of ten miles square, in all the cotton region, without at least
one of these vile ordinaries, as they are frequently and justly termed.
The keeping of these houses is a means of subsistence resorted to by men
of desperate reputation, or reckless character, and they invite as
guests all the profligate, the drunken, the idle, and the unwary of the
surrounding country. In a community where the white man never works,
except at the expense of forfeiting all claim to the rank of a
gentleman, and where it is beneath the dignity of a man to oversee the
labor of his own plantation, the number of those who frequent these
gaming houses may be imagined.

My young master, fortunately for his own honor, was of those who kept
aloof from the precincts of the tavern, unless compelled by necessary
business to go there; but the band of conspirators, who had resolved on
his destruction, invited him through one of their number, who pretended
to wish to treat with him concerning his property, to meet them at an
ordinary one evening. Here a quarrel was sought with him, and he was
challenged to fight with pistols, over the table around which they sat.

My master, who, it appears, was unable to bear the reproach of
cowardice, even amongst fools, agreed to fight, and as he had no pistols
with him, was presented with a pair belonging to one of the gang; and
accepted their owner, as his friend, or second in the business. The
result was as might have been expected. My master was killed at the
first fire, by a ball which passed through his breast, whilst his
antagonist escaped unharmed.

A servant was immediately despatched with a letter to my mistress,
informing her of the death of her husband. She was awakened in the night
to read the letter, the bearer having informed her maid that it was
necessary for her to see it immediately. The shock drove her into a
feverish delirium, from which she never recovered. At periods, her
reason resumed its dominion, but in the summer following, she became a
mother, and died in child-bed, of puerperal fever. I obtained this
account from the mouth of a black man, who was the traveling servant of
the eldest son of my old master, and who was with his master at the time
he came to visit the tenant, to whom he let his sister's estate in
Georgia.

The estate to which I was now attached, was advertised to be rented for
the term of seven years, with all the stock of mules, cattle, and so
forth, upon it--together with seventeen slaves, six of whom were too
young to be able to work at present. The price asked, was one thousand
dollars for the first year, and two thousand dollars for each of the six
succeeding years; the tenant to be bound to clear thirty acres of land
annually.

Before the day on which the estate was to be let, by the terms of the
advertisement, a man came up from the neighborhood of Savannah, and
agreed to take the new plantation, on the terms asked. He was
immediately put into possession of the premises, and from this moment, I
became his slave for the term of seven years.

Fortune had now thrown me into the power of a new master, of whom, when
I considered the part of the country from whence he came, which had
always been represented to me as distinguished for the cruelty with
which slaves were treated in it, I had no reason to expect much that was
good. I had indeed, from the moment I saw this new master, and had
learned the place of his former residence, made up my mind to prepare
myself for a harsh servitude; but as we are often disappointed for the
worse, so it sometimes happens, that we are deceived for the better.
This man was by no means so bad as I was prepared to find him; and yet,
I experienced all the evils in his service, that I had ever apprehended;
but I could never find in my heart to entertain a revengeful feeling
towards him, for he was as much a slave as I was; and I believe of the
two, the greater sufferer. Perhaps the evils he endured himself, made
him more compassionate of the sorrows of others; but notwithstanding the
injustice that was done me while with him, I could never look upon him
as a bad man.

At the time he took possession of the estate, he was alone, and did not
let us know that he had a wife, until after he had been with us at least
two weeks. One day, however, he called us together, and told us that he
was going down the country, to bring up his family--that he wished us to
go on with the work on the place in the manner he pointed out; and
telling the rest of the hands that they must obey my orders, he left
us. He was gone full two weeks; and when he returned, I had all the
cleared land planted in cotton, corn, and sweet potatoes, and had
progressed with the business of the plantation so much to his
satisfaction, that he gave me a dollar, with which I bought a pair of
new trowsers--my old ones having been worn out in clearing the new land,
and burning logs.

My master's family, a wife and one child, came with him; and my new
mistress soon caused me to regret the death of my former young master,
for other reasons than those of affection and esteem.

This woman (though she was my mistress, I cannot call her lady,) was the
daughter of a very wealthy planter, who resided near Milledgeville, and
had several children besides my mistress. My master was a native of
North Carolina--had removed to Georgia several years before this--had
acquired some property, and was married to my mistress more than two
years, when I became his slave for a term of years, as I have stated. I
saw many families, and was acquainted with the moral character of many
ladies while I lived in the South; but I must, in justice to the
country, say that my new mistress was the worst woman I ever saw amongst
the southern people. Her temper was as bad as that of a speckled viper;
and her language, when she was enraged, was a mere vocabulary of
profanity and virulence.

My master and mistress brought with them when they came twelve slaves,
great and small, seven of whom were able to do field work. We now had on
our new place a very respectable force; and my master was a man who
understood the means of procuring a good day's work from his hands, as
well as any of his neighbors. He was also a man who, when left to pursue
his own inclinations, was kind and humane in his temper and conduct
towards his people; and if he had possessed courage enough to whip his
wife two or three times, as he sometimes whipped his slaves, and to
compel her to observe a rule of conduct befitting her sex, I should have
had a tolerable time of my servitude with him; and should, in all
probability, have been a slave in Georgia until this day. Before my
mistress came, we had meat in abundance, for my master had left his keys
with me, and I dealt out the provisions to the people.

Lest my master should complain of me at his return, or suspect that I
had not been faithful to my trust, I had only allowed ourselves (for I
fared in common with the others) one meal of meat in each day. We had
several cows that supplied us with milk, and a barrel of molasses was
among the stores of provisions. We had mush, sweet potatoes, milk,
molasses, and sometimes butter for breakfast and supper, and meat for
dinner. Had we been permitted to enjoy this fine fare after the arrival
of our mistress, and had she been a woman of kindly disposition and
lady-like manners, I should have considered myself well off in the
world; for I was now living in as good a country as I ever saw, and I
much doubt if there is a better one any where.

Our mistress gave us a specimen of her character on the first morning
after her arrival amongst us, by beating severely, with a raw cow-hide,
the black girl who nursed the infant, because the child cried, and could
not be kept silent. I perceived by this that my mistress possessed no
control over her passions; and that when enraged she would find some
victim to pour her fury upon, without regard to justice or mercy.

When we were called to dinner to-day, we had no meat, and a very short
supply of bread; our meal being composed of badly cooked sweet potatoes,
some bread, and a very small quantity of sour milk. From this time our
allowance of meat was withdrawn from us altogether, and we had to live
upon our bread, potatoes, and the little milk that our mistress
permitted us to have. The most vexatious part of the new discipline was
the distinction that was made between us, who were on the plantation
before our mistress came to it, and the slaves that she brought with
her. To these latter, she gave the best part of the sour milk, all the
buttermilk, and I believe frequently rations of meat.

We were not on our part (I mean us of the old stock) wholly without
meat, for our master sometimes gave us a whole flitch of bacon at once;
this he had stolen from his own smoke-house--I say stolen, because he
took it without the knowledge of my mistress, and always charged us in
the most solemn manner not to let her know that we had received it. She
was as negligent of the duties of a good housewife, as she was arrogant
in assuming the control of things not within the sphere of her domestic
duties, and never missed the bacon that our master gave to us, because
she had not taken the trouble of examining the state of the meat-house.
Obtaining all the meat we ate by stealth, through our master, our
supplies were not regular, coming once or twice a week, according to
circumstances. However, as I was satisfied of the good intentions of my
master towards me, I felt interested in his welfare, and in a short time
became warmly attached to him. He fared but little better at the hands
of my mistress than I did, except as he ate at the same table with her,
he always had enough of comfortable food; but in the matter of ill
language, I believe my master and I might safely have put our goods
together as a joint stock in trade, without either the one or the other
being greatly the loser. I had secured the good opinion of my master,
and it was perceivable by any one that he had more confidence in me than
in any of his other slaves, and often treated me as the foreman of his
people.

This aroused the indignation of my mistress, who, with all her ill
qualities, retained a sort of selfish esteem for the slaves who had come
with her from her father's estate. She seldom saw me without giving me
her customary salutation of profanity; and she exceeded all other
persons that I have ever known in the quickness and sarcasm of the jibes
and jeers with which she seasoned her oaths. To form any fair conception
of her volubility and scurrilous wit, it was necessary to hear her, more
especially on Sunday morning or a rainy day, when the people were all
loitering about the kitchens, which stood close round her dwelling. She
treated my master with no more ceremony than she did me. Misery loves
company, it is said, and I verily believe that my master and I felt a
mutual attachment on account of our mutual sufferings.



CHAPTER XIV.


The country I now lived in was new, and abounded with every sort of game
common to a new settlement. Wages were high, and I could sometimes earn
a dollar and a half a day by doing job work on Sunday. The price of a
day's work here was a dollar. My master paid me regularly and fairly for
all the work I did for him on Sunday, and I never went anywhere else to
procure work. All his other hands were treated in the same way. He also
gave me an old gun that had seen much hard service, for the stock was
quite shattered to pieces, and the lock would not strike fire. I took my
gun to a blacksmith in the neighborhood, and he repaired the lock, so
that my musket was as sure fire as any piece need be. I found upon trial
that though the stock and lock had been worn out, the barrel was none
the worse for the service it had undergone.

I now, for the first time in my life, became a hunter, in the proper
sense of the word; and generally managed my affairs in such a way as to
get the half of Saturday to myself. This I did by prevailing on my
master to set my task for the week on Monday morning.

Saturday was appropriated to hunting, if I was not obliged to work all
day, and I soon became pretty expert in the use of my gun. I made salt
licks in the woods, to which the deer came at night, and I shot them
from a seat of clapboards that was placed on the branches of a tree.
Raccoons abounded here, and were of a large size, and fat at all
seasons. In the month of April I saw the ground thickly strewed with
nuts, the growth of the last year. I now began to live well,
notwithstanding the persecution that my mistress still directed against
me, and to feel myself, in some measure, an independent man.

The temper of my mistress grew worse daily, and to add to my troubles,
the health of my master began to decline, and towards the latter part of
autumn he told me that already he felt the symptoms of approaching
death.

This was a source of much anxiety and trouble to me, for I saw clearly,
if I ever fell under the unbridled dominion of my mistress, I should
regret the worst period of my servitude in South Carolina. I was afraid
as winter came on that my master might grow worse and pass away in the
spring--for his disease was the consumption of the lungs.

We passed this winter in clearing land, after we had secured the crops
of cotton and corn, and nothing happened on our plantation to disturb
the usual monotony of the life of a slave, except that in the month of
January, my master informed me that he intended to go to Savannah for
the purpose of purchasing groceries, and such other supplies as might be
required on the plantation, in the following season; and that he
intended to take down a load of cotton with our wagon and team, and that
I must prepare to be the driver. This intelligence was not disagreeable
to me, as the trip to Savannah would, in the first place, release me for
a short time from the tyranny of my mistress, and in the second, would
give me an opportunity of seeing a great deal of strange country. I
derived a third advantage, in after times, from this journey, but which
did not enter into my estimate of this affair, at that time.

My master had not yet erected a cotton-gin on his place--the land not
being his own--and we hauled our cotton, in the seed, nearly three miles
to be ginned, for which we had to give one-fourth to the owner of the
gin.

When the time of my departure came, I loaded my wagon with ten bales of
cotton, and set out with the same team of six mules that I had driven
from South Carolina. Nothing of moment happened to me until the evening
of the fourth day, when we were one hundred miles from home. My master
stopped to-night (for he traveled with me on his horse) at the house of
an old friend of his; and I heard my master, in conversation with this
gentleman, (for such he certainly was) give me a very good character,
and tell him, that I was the most faithful and trusty negro that he had
ever owned. He also said that if he lived to see the expiration of the
seven years for which he had leased me, he intended to buy me. He said
much more of me; and I thought I heard him tell his friend something
about my mistress, but this was spoken in a low tone of voice, and I
could not distinctly understand it. When I was going away in the morning
with my team, this gentleman came out to the wagon and ordered one of
his own slaves to help me to put the harness on my mules. At parting, he
told me to stop at his house on my return and stay all night; and said,
I should always be welcome to the use of his kitchen, if it should ever
be my lot to travel that way again.

I mention these trifles to show, that if there are hard and cruel
masters in the South, there are also others of a contrary character. The
slave-holders are neither more nor less than men, some of whom are good
and very many are bad. My master and this gentleman were certainly of
the number of the good, but the contrast between them and some others
that I have seen, was, unhappily for many of the slaves, very great. I
shall, hereafter, refer to this gentleman, at whose house I now was, and
shall never name him without honor, nor think of him without gratitude.

As I traveled through the country with my team, my chief employment,
beyond my duty of a teamster, was to observe the condition of the slaves
on the various plantations by which we passed on our journey, and to
compare things in Georgia, as I now saw them, with similar things in
Carolina, as I had heretofore seen them.

There is as much sameness among the various cotton plantations in
Georgia, as there is among the various farms in New York or New Jersey.
He who has seen one cotton-field has seen all the other cotton-fields,
bating the difference that naturally results from good and bad soils, or
good and bad culture; but the contrast that prevails in the treatment of
the slaves, on different plantations, is very remarkable. We traveled a
road that was not well provided with public houses, and we frequently
stopped for the night at the private dwellings of the planters, and I
observed that my master was received as a visitor, and treated as a
friend in the family, whilst I was always left at the road with my
wagon, my master supplying me with money to buy food for myself and my
mules.

It was my practice, when we remained all night at these gentlemen's
houses, to go to the kitchen in the evening, after I had fed my mules
and eaten my supper, and pass some time in conversation with the black
people I might chance to find there. One evening we halted before
sundown, and I unhitched my mules at the road, about two hundred yards
from the house of a planter, to which my master went to claim
hospitality for himself.

After I had disposed of my team for the night, and taken my supper, I
went as usual to see the people of color in the kitchen, belonging to
this plantation. The sun had just set when I reached the kitchen, and
soon afterwards, a black boy came in and told the woman, who was the
only person in the kitchen when I came to it, that she must go down to
the overseer's house. She immediately started, in obedience to this
order, and not choosing to remain alone in a strange house, I concluded
to follow the woman, and see the other people of this estate. When we
reached the house of the overseer, the colored people were coming in
from the field, and with them came the overseer, and another man, better
dressed than overseers usually are.

I stood at some distance from these gentlemen, not thinking it prudent
to be too forward amongst strangers. The black people were all called
together, and the overseer told them, that some one of them had stolen
a fat hog from the pen, carried it to the woods, and there killed and
dressed it; that he had that day found the place where the hog had been
slaughtered, and that if they did not confess, and tell who the
perpetrators of this theft were, they would all be whipped in the
severest manner. To this threat, no other reply was made than a
universal assertion of the innocence of the accused. They were all then
ordered to lie down upon the ground, and expose their backs, to which
the overseer applied the thong of his long whip, by turns, until he was
weary. It was fortunate for these people, that they were more than
twenty in number, which prevented the overseer from inflicting many
lashes on any one of them.

When the whole number had received, each in turn, a share of the lash,
the overseer returned to the man, to whom he had first applied the whip,
and told him he was certain that he knew who stole the hog; and that if
he did not tell who the thief was, he would whip him all night. He then
again applied the whip to the back of this man, until the blood flowed
copiously; but the sufferer hid his face in his hands, and said not a
word. The other gentleman then asked the overseer if he was confident
this man had stolen the pig; and, receiving an affirmative answer, he
said he would make the fellow confess the truth, if he would follow his
directions. He then asked the overseer if he had ever tried
cat-hauling, upon an obstinate negro; and was told that this punishment
had been heard of, but never practised on this plantation.

A boy was then ordered to get up, run to the house, and bring a cat,
which was soon produced. The cat, which was a large gray tom-cat, was
then taken by the well-dressed gentleman, and placed upon the bare back
of the prostrate black man, near the shoulder, and forcibly dragged by
the tail down the back, and along the bare thighs of the sufferer. The
cat sunk his rails into the flesh, and tore off pieces of the skin with
his teeth. The man roared with the pain of this punishment, and would
have rolled along the ground, had he not been held in his place by the
force of four other slaves, each one of whom confined a hand or a foot.
As soon as the cat was drawn from him, the man said he would tell who
stole the hog, and confessed that he and several others, three of whom
were then holding him, had stolen the hog--killed, dressed, and eaten
it. In return for this confession, the overseer said he should have
another touch of the cat, which was again drawn along his back, not as
before, from the head downwards, but from below the hips to the head.
The man was then permitted to rise, and each of those who had been named
by him as a participator in stealing the hog, was compelled to lie down,
and have the cat twice drawn along his back; first downwards, and then
upwards. After the termination of this punishment, each of the sufferers
was washed with salt water, by a black woman, and they were then all
dismissed. This was the most excruciating punishment that I ever saw
inflicted on black people, and, in my opinion, it is very dangerous; for
the claws of the cat are poisonous, and wounds made by them are very
subject to inflammation.

During all this time, I had remained at the distance of fifty yards from
the place of punishment, fearing either to advance or retreat, lest I
too might excite the indignation of these sanguinary judges. After the
business was over, and my feelings became a little more composed, I
thought the voice of the gentleman in good clothes, was familiar to me;
but I could not recollect who he was, nor where I had heard his voice,
until the gentlemen at length left this place, and went towards the
great house, and as they passed me, I recognized in the companion of the
overseer, my old master, the negro trader, who had bought me in
Maryland, and brought me to Carolina.

I afterwards learned from my master that this man had formerly been
engaged in the African slave-trade, which he had given up some years
before, for the safer and less arduous business of buying negroes in the
North, and bringing them to the South, as articles of merchandise, in
which he had acquired a very respectable fortune--had lately married in
a wealthy family, in this part of the country, and was a great planter.

Two days after this, we reached Savannah, where my master sold his
cotton, and purchased a wagon load of sugar, molasses, coffee, shoes,
dry goods, and such articles as we stood in need of at home; and on the
next day after I entered the city, I again left it, and directed my
course up the country. In Savannah I saw many black men who were slaves,
and who yet acted as freemen so far that they went out to work, where
and with whom they pleased, received their own wages, and provided their
own subsistence; but were obliged to pay a certain sum at the end of
each week to their masters. One of these men told me that he paid six
dollars on every Saturday evening to his master; and yet he was
comfortably dressed, and appeared to live well. Savannah was a very busy
place, and I saw vast quantities of cotton piled up on the wharves, but
the appearance of the town itself was not much in favor of the people
who lived in it.

On my way home I traveled for several days, by a road different from
that which we had pursued in coming down; and at the distance of fifty
or sixty miles from Savannah, I passed by the largest plantation that I
had ever seen. I think I saw at least a thousand acres of cotton in one
field, which was all as level as a bowling-green. There were, as I was
told, three hundred and fifty hands at work in this field, picking the
last of the cotton from the burs; and these were the most miserable
looking slaves that I had seen in all my travels.

It was now the depth of winter, and although the weather was not cold,
yet it was the winter of this climate; and a man who lives on the
Savannah river a few years, will find himself almost as much oppressed
with cold, in winter there, as he would be in the same season of the
year on the banks of the Potomac, if he had always resided there.

These people were, as far as I could see, totally without shoes, and
there was no such garment as a hat of any kind amongst them. Each person
had a coarse blanket, which had holes cut for the arms to pass through,
and the top was drawn up round the neck, so as to form a sort of loose
frock, tied before with strings. The arms, when the people were at work,
were naked, and some of them had very little clothing of any kind
besides this blanket frock. The appearance of these people afforded the
most conclusive evidence that they were not eaters of pork, and that
lent lasted with them throughout the year.

I again staid all night, as I went home, with the gentleman whom I have
before noticed as the friend of my master, who had left me soon after we
quitted Savannah, and I saw him no more until I reached home.

Soon after my return from Savannah, an affair of a very melancholy
character took place in the neighborhood of my master's plantation.
About two miles from our residence lived a gentleman who was a bachelor,
and who had for his housekeeper a mulatto woman. The master was a young
man, not more than twenty-five years old, and the housekeeper must have
been at least forty. She had children grown up, one of whom had been
sold by her master, the father of the bachelor, since I lived here, and
carried away to the West. This woman had acquired a most unaccountable
influence over her young master, who lived with her as his wife, and
gave her the entire command of his house, and of every thing about it.
Before he came to live where he now did, and whilst he still resided
with his father, to whom the woman then belonged, the old gentleman
perceiving the attachment of his son to this female, had sold her to a
trader, who was on his way to the Mississippi river, in the absence of
the young man; but when the latter returned home, and learned what had
been done, he immediately set off in pursuit of the purchaser, overtook
him somewhere in the Indian territory, and bought the woman of him, at
an advanced price. He then brought her back, and put her, as his
housekeeper, on the place where he now lived; left his father, and came
to reside in person with the woman.

On a plantation adjoining that of the gentleman bachelor, lived a
planter, who owned a young mulatto man, named Frank, not more than
twenty-four or five years old, a very smart as well as handsome
fellow.--Frank had become as much enamored of this woman, who was old
enough to have been his mother, as her master, the bachelor was; and she
returned Frank's attachment, to the prejudice of her owner. Frank was in
the practice of visiting his mistress at night, a circumstance of which
her master was suspicious; and he forbade Frank from coming to the
house. This only heightened the flame that was burning in the bosoms of
the lovers; and they resolved, after many and long deliberations, to
destroy the master. She projected the plot, and furnished the means for
the murder, by taking her master's gun from the place where he usually
kept it, and giving it to Frank, who came to the house in the evening,
when the gentleman was taking his supper alone.

Lucy always waited upon her master at his meals, and knowing his usual
place of sitting, had made a hole between two of the logs of the house,
towards which she knew his back would be at supper. At a given signal,
Frank came quietly up the house, levelled the gun through the hole
prepared for him, and discharged a load of buck-shot between the
shoulders of the unsuspecting master, who sprang from his seat and fell
dead beside the table. This murder was not known in the neighborhood
until the next morning, when the woman herself went to a house on an
adjoining plantation and told it.

The murdered gentleman had several other slaves, none of whom were at
home at the time of his death, except one man; and he was so terrified
that he was afraid to run and alarm the neighborhood. I knew this man
well, and believe he was afraid of the woman and her accomplice. I never
had any doubt of his innocence, though he suffered a punishment, upon no
other evidence than mere suspicion, far more terrible than any ordinary
form of death.

As soon as the murder was known to the neighboring gentlemen, they
hastened to visit the dead body, and were no less expeditious in
instituting inquiries after those who had done the bloody deed. My
master was amongst the first who arrived at the house of the deceased;
and in a short time, half the slaves of the neighboring plantations were
arrested, and brought to the late dwelling of the dead man. For my own
part, from the moment I heard of the murder, I had no doubt of its
author.

Silence is a great virtue when it is dangerous to speak; and I had long
since determined never to advance opinions, uncalled for, in
controversies between the white people and the slaves. Many witnesses
were examined by a justice of the peace, before the coroner arrived,
but after the coming of the latter, a jury was called; and more than
half a day was spent in asking questions of various black people,
without the disclosure of any circumstance, which tended to fix the
guilt of the murder upon any one. My master, who was present all this
time, at last desired them to examine me, if it was thought that my
testimony could be of any service in the matter, as he wished me to go
home to attend to my work. I was sworn on the Testament to tell the
whole truth; and stated at the commencement of my testimony, that I
believed Frank and Lucy to be the murderers, and proceeded to assign the
reasons upon which my opinion was founded. Frank had not been present at
this examination, and Lucy, who had been sworn, had said she knew
nothing of the matter; that at the time her master was shot she had gone
into the kitchen for some milk for his supper, and that on hearing the
gun, she had come into the room at the moment he fell to the floor and
expired; but when she opened the door and looked out, she could neither
hear nor see any one.

When Frank was brought in and made to touch the dead body, which he was
compelled to do, because some said that if he was the murderer, the
corpse would bleed at his touch, he trembled so much that I thought he
would fall, but no blood issued from the wound of the dead man. This
compulsory touching of the dead had, however, in this instance, a much
more powerful effect, in the conviction of the criminal, than the
flowing of any quantity of blood could have had; for as soon as Frank
had withdrawn his hand from the touch of the dead, the coroner asked
him, in a peremptory tone, as if conscious of the fact, why he had done
this. Frank was so confounded with fear, and overwhelmed by this
interrogatory, that he lost all self-possession, and cried out in a
voice of despair, that Lucy had made him do it.

Lucy, who had left the room when Frank was brought in, was now recalled,
and confronted with her partner in guilt, but nothing could wring a word
of confession from her. She persisted, that if Frank had murdered her
master, he had done it of his own accord, and without her knowledge or
advice. Some one now, for the first time, thought of making search for
the gun of the dead man, which was not found in the place where he
usually had kept it. Frank said he had committed the crime with this
gun, which had been placed in his hands by Lucy. Frank, Lucy and Billy,
a black man, against whom there was no evidence, nor cause of suspicion,
except that he was in the kitchen at the time of the murder, were
committed to prison in a new log-house on an adjoining plantation,
closely confined in irons, and kept there a little more than two weeks,
when they were all tried before some gentlemen of the neighborhood, who
held a court for that purpose. Lucy and Frank were condemned to be hung,
but Billy was found not guilty; although he was not released, but kept
in confinement until the execution of his companions, which took place
ten days after the trial.

On the morning of the execution, my master told me, and all the rest of
the people, that we must go to the _hanging_, as it was termed by him as
well as others. The place of punishment was only two miles from my
master's residence, and I was there in time to get a good stand, near
the gallows' tree, by which I was enabled to see all the proceedings
connected with this solemn affair. It was estimated by my master, that
there were at least fifteen thousand people present at this scene, more
than half of whom were blacks; all the masters, for a great distance
round the country, having permitted, or compelled their people to come
to this _hanging_.

Billy was brought to the gallows with Lucy and Frank, but was permitted
to walk beside the cart in which they rode. Under the gallows, after the
rope was around her neck, Lucy confessed that the murder had been
designed by her in the first place, and that Frank had only perpetrated
it at her instance. She said she had at first intended to apply to Billy
to assist her in the undertaking, but had afterwards communicated her
designs to Frank, who offered to shoot her master, if she would supply
him with a gun, and let no other person be in the secret.

A long sermon was preached by a white man under the gallows, which was
only the limb of a tree, and afterwards an exhortation was delivered by
a black man. The two convicts were hung together, and after they were
quite dead, a consultation was held among the gentlemen as to the future
disposition of Billy, who, having been in the house when his master was
murdered, and not having given immediate information of the fact, was
held to be guilty of concealing the death, and was accordingly sentenced
to receive five hundred lashes. I was in the branches of a tree close by
the place where the court was held, and distinctly heard its proceedings
and judgment. Some went to the woods to cut hickories, whilst others
stripped Billy and tied him to a tree. More than twenty long switches,
some of them six or seven feet in length, had been procured, and two men
applied the rods at the same time, one standing on each side of the
culprit, one of them using his left hand.

I had often seen black men whipped, and had always, when the lash was
applied with great severity, heard the sufferer cry out and beg for
mercy, but in this case, the pain inflicted by the double blows of the
hickory was so intense, that Billy never uttered so much as a groan; and
I do not believe he breathed for the space of two minutes after he
received the first strokes. He shrank his body close to the trunk of the
tree, around which his arms and legs were lashed, drew his shoulders up
to his head like a dying man, and trembled, or rather shivered, in all
his members. The blood flowed from the commencement, and in a few
minutes lay in small puddles at the root of the tree. I saw flakes of
flesh as long as my finger fall out of the gashes in his back; and I
believe he was insensible during all the time that he was receiving the
last two hundred lashes. When the whole five hundred lashes had been
counted by the person appointed to perform this duty, the half dead body
was unbound and laid in the shade of the tree upon which I sat. The
gentlemen who had done the whipping, eight or ten in number, being
joined by their friends, then came under the tree and drank punch until
their dinner was made ready, under a booth of green boughs at a short
distance.

After dinner, Billy, who had been groaning on the ground where he was
laid, was taken up, placed in the cart in which Lucy and Frank had been
brought to the gallows, and conveyed to the dwelling of his late master,
where he was confined to the house and his bed more than three months,
and was never worth much afterwards while I remained in Georgia.

Lucy and Frank, after they had been half an hour upon the gallows, were
cut down, and suffered to drop into a deep hole that had been dug under
them whilst they were suspended. As they fell, so the earth was thrown
upon them, and the grave closed over them for ever.

They were hung on Thursday, and the vast assemblage of people that had
convened to witness their death did not leave the place altogether until
the next Monday morning. Wagons, carts, and carriages had been brought
upon the ground; booths and tents erected for the convenience and
accommodation of the multitude; and the terrible spectacles that I have
just described were succeeded by music, dancing, trading in horses,
gambling, drinking, fighting, and every other species of amusement and
excess to which the southern people are addicted.

I had to work in the day-time, but went every night to witness this
funeral carnival,--the numbers that joined in which appeared to
increase, rather than diminish, during the Friday and Saturday that
followed the execution. It was not until Sunday afternoon that the crowd
began sensibly to diminish; and on Monday morning, after breakfast time,
the last wagons left the ground, now trampled into dust as dry and as
light as ashes, and the grave of the murderers was left to the solitude
of the woods.

Certainly those who were hanged well deserved their punishment; but it
was a very arbitrary exercise of power to whip a man until he was
insensible, because he did not prevent a murder which was committed
without his knowledge; and I could not understand the right of punishing
him, because he was so weak or timorous as to refrain from the
disclosure of the crime the moment it came to his knowledge.

It is necessary for the southern people to be vigilant in guarding the
moral condition of their slaves, and even to punish the intention to
commit crimes, when that intention can be clearly proved; for such is
the natural relation of master and slave, in by far the greater number
of cases, that no cordiality of feeling can ever exist between them; and
the sentiments that bind together the different members of society in a
state of freedom and social equality, being absent, the master must
resort to principles of physical restraint, and rules of mental
coercion, unknown in another and a different condition of the social
compact.

It is a mistake to suppose that the southern planters could ever retain
their property, or live amongst their slaves, if those slaves were not
kept in terror of the punishment that would follow acts of violence and
disorder. There is no difference between the feelings of the different
races of men, so far as their personal rights are concerned. The black
man is as anxious to possess and to enjoy liberty as the white one
would be, were he deprived of this inestimable blessing. It is not for
me to say that the one is as well qualified for the enjoyment of liberty
as the other. Low ignorance, moral degradation of character, and mental
depravity, are inseparable companions; and in the breast of an ignorant
man, the passions of envy and revenge hold unbridled dominion.

It was in the month of April that I witnessed the painful spectacle of
two fellow-creatures being launched into the abyss of eternity, and a
third, being tortured beyond the sufferings of mere death, not for his
crimes, but as a terror to others; and this, not to deter others from
the commission of crimes, but to stimulate them to a more active and
devoted performance of their duties to their owners. My spirits had not
recovered from the depression produced by that scene, in which my
feelings had been awakened in the cause of others, when I was called to
a nearer and more immediate apprehension of sufferings, which, I now too
clearly saw, were in preparation for myself.

My master's health became worse continually, and I expected he would not
survive this summer. In this, however, I was disappointed; but he was so
ill that he was seldom able to come to the field, and paid but little
attention to his plantation, or the culture of his crops. He left the
care of the cotton field to me after the month of June, and was not
again out on the plantation before the following October; when he one
day came out on a little Indian pony that he had used as his hackney,
before he was so far reduced as to decline the practice of riding. I
suffered very much this summer for want of good and substantial
provisions, my master being no longer able to supply me, with his usual
liberality, from his own meat house. I was obliged to lay out nearly all
my other earnings, in the course of the summer, for bacon, to enable me
to bear the hardship and toil to which I was exposed. My master often
sent for me to come to the house, and talked to me in a very kind
manner; and I believe that no hired overseer could have carried on the
business more industriously than I did, until the crop was secured the
next winter.

Soon after my master was in the field, in October, he sent for me to
come to him one day, and gave me, on parting, a pretty good great coat
of strong drab cloth, almost new, which he said would be of service to
me in the coming winter. He also gave me at the same time a pair of
boots which he had worn half out, but the legs of which were quite good.
This great coat and these boots were afterwards of great service to me.

As the winter came on my master grew worse, and though he still
continued to walk about the house in good weather, it was manifest that
he was approaching the close of his earthly existence. I worked very
hard this winter. The crop of cotton was heavy, and we did not get it
all out of the field until some time after Christmas, which compelled me
to work hard myself, and cause my fellow-slaves to work hard too, in
clearing the land that my master was bound to clear every year on this
place. He desired me to get as much of the land cleared in time for
cotton as I could, and to plant the rest with corn when cleared off.

As I was now entrusted with the entire superintendence of the plantation
by my master, who never left his house, it became necessary for me to
assume the authority of an overseer of my fellow-slaves, and I not
unfrequently found it proper to punish them with stripes to compel them
to perform their work. At first I felt much repugnance against the use
of the hickory, the only instrument with which I punished offenders, but
the longer I was accustomed to this practice, the more familiar and less
offensive it became to me; and I believe that a few years of
perseverance and experience would have made me as inveterate a
negro-driver as any in Georgia, though I feel conscious that I never
should have become so hardened as to strip a person for the purpose of
whipping, nor should I ever have consented to compel people to work
without a sufficiency of good food, if I had it in my power to supply
them with enough of this first of comforts.

In the month of February, my master became so weak, and his cough was so
distressing, that he took to his bed, from which he never again
departed, save only once, before the time when he was removed to be
wrapped in his winding-sheet. In the month of March, two of the brothers
of my mistress came to see her, and remained with her until after the
death of my master.

When they had been with their sister about three weeks, they came to the
kitchen one day when I had come in for my dinner, and told me that they
were going to whip me. I asked them what they were going to whip me for?
to which they replied, that they thought a good whipping would be good
for me, and that at any rate, I must prepare to take it. My mistress now
joined us, and after swearing at me in the most furious manner, for a
space of several minutes, and bestowing upon me a multitude of the
coarsest epithets, told me that she had long owed me a whipping, and
that I should now get it.

She then ordered me to take off my shirt, (the only garment I had on,
except a pair of old tow linen trowsers,) and the two brothers backed
the command of their sister, the one by presenting a pistol at my
breast, and the other by drawing a large club over his head in the
attitude of striking me. Resistance was vain, and I was forced to yield.
My shirt being off, I was tied by the hands with a stout bed-cord, and
being led to a tree, called the Pride of China, that grew in the yard,
my hands were drawn by the rope, being passed over a limb, until my feet
no longer touched the ground. Being thus suspended in the air by the
rope, and my whole weight hanging on my wrists, I was unable to move any
part of my person, except my feet and legs. I had never been whipped
since I was a boy, and felt the injustice of the present proceeding with
the utmost keenness; but neither justice nor my feelings had any
influence upon the hearts of my mistress and her brothers, two men as
cruel in temper and as savage in manners as herself.

The first strokes of the hickory produced a sensation that I can only
liken to streams of scalding water, running along my back; but after a
hundred or hundred and fifty lashes had been showered upon me, the pain
became less acute and piercing, but was succeeded by a dead and painful
aching, which seemed to extend to my very backbone.

As I hung by the rope, the moving of my legs sometimes caused me to turn
round, and soon after they began to beat me I saw the pale and
death-like figure of my master standing at the door, when my face was
turned toward the house, and heard him, in a faint voice, scarcely
louder than a strong breathing, commanding his brothers-in-law to let me
go. These commands were disregarded, until I had received full three
hundred lashes; and doubtlessly more would have been inflicted upon me,
had not my master, with an effort beyond his strength, by the aid of a
stick on which he supported himself, made his way to me, and placing his
skeleton form beside me as I hung, told his brothers-in-law that if they
struck another stroke he would send for a lawyer and have them both
prosecuted at law. This interposition stopped the progress of my
punishment, and after cutting me down, they carried my master again into
the house. I was yet able to walk, and went into the kitchen, whither my
mistress followed, and compelled me to submit to be washed in brine by a
black woman, who acted as her cook. I was then permitted to put my shirt
on, and to go to my bed.

This was Saturday, and on the next day, when I awoke late in the
morning, I found myself unable to turn over or to rise. I felt too
indignant at the barbarity with which I had been treated to call for
help from any one, and lay in my bed made of corn husks until after
twelve o'clock, when my mistress came to me and asked me how I was. A
slave must not manifest feelings of resentment, and I answered with
humility, that I was very sore and unable to get up. She then called a
man and a woman, who came and raised me up; but I now found that my
shirt was as fast to my back as if it had grown there. The blood and
bruised flesh having become incorporated with the substance of the
linen, it formed only the outer coat of the great scab that covered my
back.

After I was down stairs, my mistress had me washed in warm water, and
warm grease was rubbed over my back and sides, until the shirt was
saturated with oil, and becoming soft, was at length separated from my
back. My mistress then had my back washed and greased, and put upon me
one of my master's old linen shirts. She had become alarmed, and was
fearful either that I should die, or would not be able to work again for
a long time. As it was, she lost a month of my labor at this time, and
in the end, she lost myself, in consequence of this whipping.

As soon as I was able to walk, my master sent for me to come to his
bed-side, and told me that he was very sorry for what had happened; that
it was not his fault, and that if he had been well I should never have
been touched. Tears came in his eyes as he talked to me, and said that
as he could not live long, he hoped I would continue faithful to him
whilst he did live. This I promised to do, for I really loved my master;
but I had already determined, that as soon as he was in his grave, I
would attempt to escape from Georgia and the cotton country, if my life
should be the forfeiture of the attempt.

As soon as I had recovered of my wounds, I again went to work, not in my
former situation of superintendent of my master's plantation, for this
place was now occupied by one of the brothers of my mistress, but in the
woods, where my mistress had determined to clear a new field. After this
time, I did nothing but grub and clear land, while I remained in
Georgia, but I was always making preparations for my departure from that
country.

My master was an officer of militia, and had a sword which he wore on
parade days, and at other times he hung it up in the room where he
slept. I conceived an idea that this sword would be of service to me in
the long journey that I intended to undertake. One evening, when I had
gone in to see my master, and had remained standing at his bed-side some
time, he closed his eyes as if going to sleep, and it being twilight, I
slipped the sword from the place where it hung, and dropped it out of
the window. I knew my master could never need this weapon again, but yet
I felt some compunction of conscience at the thought of robbing so good
a man. When I left the room, I took up the sword, and afterwards
secreted it in a hollow tree in the woods, near the place at which I
worked daily.



CHAPTER XV.


My master died in the month of May, and I followed him to his grave with
a heavy heart, for I felt that I had lost the only friend I had in the
world, who possessed at once the power and the inclination to protect me
against the tyranny and oppression to which slaves on a cotton
plantation are subject.

Had he lived, I should have remained with him and never have left him,
for he had promised to purchase the residue of my time of my owners in
Carolina; but when he was gone, I felt the parting of the last tie that
bound me to the place where I then was, and my heart yearned for my wife
and children, from whom I had now been separated more than four years.

I held my life in small estimation, if it was to be worn out under the
dominion of my mistress and her brothers, though since the death of my
master she had greatly meliorated my condition by giving me frequent
allowances of meat and other necessaries. I believe she entertained some
vague apprehensions that I might run away, and betake myself to the
woods for a living, but I do not think she ever suspected that I would
hazard the untried undertaking of attempting to make my way back to
Maryland. My purpose was fixed, and now nothing could shake it. I only
waited for a proper season of the year to commence my toilsome and
dangerous journey. As I must of necessity procure my own subsistence on
my march, it behoved me to pay regard to the time at which I took it up.

I furnished myself with a fire-box, as it is called, that is, a tin case
containing flints, steel and tinder--this I considered indispensable. I
took the great coat that my master had given me, and with a coarse
needle and thread quilted a scabbard of old cloth in one side of it, in
which I could put my sword and carry it with safety. I also procured a
small bag of linen that held more than a peck. This bag I filled with
the meal of parched corn, grinding the corn after it was parched in the
woods where I worked at the mill at night. These operations, except the
grinding of the corn, I carried on in a small conical cabin that I had
built in the woods. The boots that my master gave me, I had repaired by
a Spaniard who lived in the neighborhood, and followed the business of a
cobbler.

Before the first of August I had all my preparations completed, and had
matured them with so much secrecy, that no one in the country, white or
black, suspected me of entertaining any extraordinary design. I only
waited for the corn to be ripe, and fit to be roasted, which time I had
fixed as the period of my departure. I watched the progress of the corn
daily, and on the eighth of August I perceived, on examining my
mistress' field, that nearly half of the ears were so far grown, that by
roasting them, a man could easily subsist himself; and as I knew that
this corn had been planted later than the most of the corn in the
country, I resolved to take leave of the plantation and its tenants, for
ever, on the next day.

I had a faithful dog, called Trueman, and this poor animal had been my
constant companion for more than four years, without ever showing
cowardice or infidelity, but once, and that was when the panther
followed us from the woods. I was accordingly anxious to bring my dog
with me; but as I knew the success of my undertaking depended on secrecy
and silence, I thought it safest to abandon my last friend, and engage
in my perilous enterprise alone. On the morning of the ninth I went to
work as usual, carrying my dinner with me, and worked diligently at
grubbing until about one o'clock in the day. I now sat down and took my
last dinner as the slave of my mistress, dividing the contents of my
basket with my dog. After I had finished I tied my dog with a rope to a
small tree; I set my gun against it, for I thought I should be better
without the gun than with it; tied my knapsack with my bag of meal on my
shoulders, and then turned to take a last farewell of my poor dog, that
stood by the tree to which he was bound, looking wistfully at me. When I
approached him, he licked my hands, and then rising on his hind feet and
placing his fore paws on my breast, he uttered a long howl, which
thrilled through my heart, as if he had said, "My master, do not leave
me behind you."

I now took to the forest, keeping, as nearly as I could, a North course
all the afternoon. Night overtook me before I reached any watercourse,
or any other object worthy of being noticed; and I lay down and slept
soundly, without kindling a fire or eating any thing. I was awake before
day, and as soon as there was light enough to enable me to see my way, I
resumed my journey and walked on, until about eight o'clock, when I came
to a river, which I knew must be the Appalachie. I sat down on the bank
of the river, opened my bag of meal, and made my breakfast of a part of
its contents. I used my meal very sparingly, it being the most valuable
treasure that I now possessed; though I had in my pocket three Spanish
dollars; but in my situation, this money could not avail me any thing,
as I was resolved not to show myself to any person, either white or
black. After taking my breakfast, I prepared to cross the river, which
was here about a hundred yards wide, with a sluggish and deep current.
The morning was sultry, and the thickets along the margin of the river
teemed with insects and reptiles. By sounding the river with a pole, I
found the stream too deep to be waded, and I therefore prepared to swim
it. For this purpose I stripped myself, and bound my clothes on the top
of my knapsack, and my bag of meal on the top of my clothes; then
drawing my knapsack close up to my head. I threw myself into the river.
In my youth I had learned to swim in the Patuxent, and have seldom met
with any person who was more at ease in deep water than myself. I kept a
straight line from the place of my entrance into the Appalachie, to the
opposite side, and when I had reached it, stepped on the margin of the
land, and turned round to view the place from which I had set out on my
aquatic passage; but my eye was arrested by an object nearer to me than
the opposite shore. Within twenty feet of me, in the very line that I
had pursued in crossing the river, a large alligator was moving in full
pursuit of me, with his nose just above the surface, in the position
that creature takes when he gives chase to his intended prey in the
water. The alligator can swim more than twice as fast as a man, for he
can overtake young ducks on the water; and had I been ten seconds longer
in the river, I should have been dragged to the bottom, and never again
been heard of.

Seeing that I had gained the shore, my pursuer turned, made two or three
circles in the water close by me, and then disappeared.

I received this admonition as a warning of the dangers that I must
encounter in my journey to the North. After adjusting my clothes, I
again took to the woods, and bore a little to the east of north; it now
being my determination to turn down the country, so as to gain the line
of the roads by which I had come to the South. I traveled all day in the
woods; but a short time before sundown, came within view of an opening
in the forest, which I took to be cleared fields, but upon a closer
examination, finding no fences or other enclosures around it, I advanced
into it and found it to be an open savannah, with a small stream of
water creeping slowly through it. At the lower side of the open space
were the remains of an old beaver dam, the central part of which had
been broken away by the current of the stream at the time of some flood.
Around the margin of this former pond, I observed several decayed beaver
lodges, and numerous stumps of small trees, that had been cut down for
the food or fortifications of this industrious little nation, which had
fled at the approach of the white man, and all its people were now, like
me, seeking refuge in the deepest solitudes of the forest, from the
glance of every human eye. As it was growing late, and I believed I must
now be near the settlements, I determined to encamp for the night,
beside this old beaver dam. I again took my supper from my bag of meal,
and made my bed for the night amongst the canes that grew in the place.
This night I slept but little; for it seemed as if all the owls in the
country had assembled in my neighborhood to perform a grand musical
concert.--Their hooting and chattering commenced soon after dark, and
continued until the dawn of day. In all parts of the southern country,
the owls are very numerous, especially along the margins of streams, and
in the low grounds with which the waters are universally bordered; but
since I had been in the country, although I had passed many nights in
the woods at all seasons of the year, I had never before heard so
clamorous and deafening a chorus of nocturnal music.--With the coming of
the morning I arose from my couch, and proceeded warily along the woods,
keeping a continual lookout for plantations, and listening attentively
to every noise that I heard in the trees, or amongst the canebrakes.
When the sun had been up two or three hours, I saw an appearance of blue
sky at a distance through the trees, which proved that the forest had
been removed from a spot somewhere before me, and at no great distance
from me; and, as I cautiously advanced, I heard the voices of people in
loud conversation. Sitting down amongst the palmetto plants, that grew
around me in great numbers, I soon perceived that the people whose
conversation I heard, were coming nearer to me. I now heard the sound of
horses' feet, and immediately afterwards saw two men on horseback, with
rifles on their shoulders, riding through the woods, and moving on a
line that led them past me, at a distance of about fifty or sixty
yards.--Perceiving that these men were equipped as hunters, I remained
almost breathless for the purpose of hearing their conversation. When
they came so near that I could distinguish their words, they were
talking of the best place to take a stand for the purpose of seeing the
deer; from which I inferred that they had sent men to some other point,
for the purpose of rousing the deer with dogs. After they had passed
that point of their way that was nearest to me, and were beginning to
recede from me, one of them asked the other if he had heard that a negro
had run away the day before yesterday, in Morgan county; to which his
companion answered in the negative. The first then said he had seen an
advertisement at the store, which offered a hundred dollars reward for
the runaway, whose name was Charles.

The conversation of these horsemen was now interrupted by the cry of
hounds, at a distance in the woods, and heightening the speed of their
horses, they were soon out of my sight and hearing.

Information of the state of the country through which I was traveling,
was of the highest value to me; and nothing could more nearly interest
me than a knowledge of the fact, that my flight was known to the white
people, who resided round about and before me. It was now necessary for
me to become doubly vigilant, and to concert with myself measures of the
highest moment.

The first resolution that I took was, that I would travel no more in the
day-time. This was the season of hunting deer, and knowing that the
hunters were under the necessity of being as silent as possible in the
woods, I saw at a glance that they would be at least as likely to
discover me in the forest, before I could see them, as I should be to
see them, before I myself could be seen.

I was now very hungry, but exceedingly loath to make any further
breaches on my bag of meal, except in extreme necessity. Feeling
confident that there was a plantation within a few rods of me, I was
anxious to have a view of it, in hope that I might find a corn-field
upon it, from which I could obtain a supply of roasting ears. Fearful to
stand upright, I crept along through the low ground, where I then was,
at times raising myself to my knees, for the purpose of obtaining a
better view of things about me. In this way I advanced until I came in
view of a high fence, and beyond this saw cotton, tall and flourishing,
but no sign of corn. I crept up close to the fence, where I found the
trunk of a large tree, that had been felled in clearing the field.
Standing upon this, and looking over the plantation, I saw the tassels
of corn, at the distance of half a mile, growing in a field which was
bordered on one side by the wood, in which I stood.

It was now nine or ten o'clock in the morning, and as I had slept but
little the night before, I crept into the bushes, great numbers of which
grew in and about the top of the fallen tree, and, hungry as I was, fell
asleep. When I awoke, it appeared to me from the position of the sun,
which I had carefully noted before I lay down, to be about one or two
o'clock. As this was the time of the day when the heat is most
oppressive, and when every one was most likely to be absent from the
forest, I again moved, and taking a circuitous route at some distance
from the fields, reached the fence opposite the corn-field, without
having met anything to alarm me. Having cautiously examined everything
around me, as well by the eye as by the ear, and finding all quiet, I
ventured to cross the fence and pluck from the standing stalks about a
dozen good ears of corn, with which I stole back to the thicket in
safety. This corn was of no use to me without fire to roast it; and it
was equally dangerous to kindle fire by night as by day, the light at
one time and the smoke at another, might betray me to those who I knew
were ever ready to pursue and arrest me. "Hunger eats through stone
walls," says the proverb, and an empty stomach is a petitioner, whose
solicitations cannot be refused, if there is anything to satisfy them
with.

Having regained the woods in safety, I ventured to go as far as the side
of a swamp, which I knew to be at the distance of two or three hundred
yards, by the appearance of the timber. When in the swamp, I felt pretty
secure, but determined that I would never again attempt to travel in the
neighborhood of a plantation in the daytime.

When in the swamp a quarter of a mile, I collected some dry wood and
lighted it with the aid of my tinder-box, flint, and steel. This was the
first fire that I kindled on my journey, and I was careful to burn none
but dry wood, to prevent the formation of smoke. Here I roasted my corn,
and ate as much of it as I could. After my dinner I lay down and slept
for three or four hours. When I awoke, the sun was scarcely visible
through the tree-tops. It was evening, and prudence required me to leave
the swamp before dark, lest I should not be able to find my way out.

Approaching the edge of the swamp, I watched the going down of the sun,
and noted the stars as they appeared in the heavens. I had long since
learned to distinguish the north-star from all the other small
luminaries of the night; and the seven pointers were familiar to me.
These heavenly bodies were all the guides I had to direct me on my way,
and as soon as the night had set in, I commenced my march through the
woods, bearing as nearly due east as I could.

I took this course for the purpose of getting down the country as far as
the road leading from Augusta to Morgan County, with the intention of
pursuing the route by which I had come out from South Carolina; deeming
it more safe to travel the high road by night, than to attempt to make
my way at random over the country, guided only by the stars. I traveled
all night, keeping the north-star on my left hand as nearly as I could,
and passing many plantations, taking care to keep at a great distance
from the houses. I think I traveled at least twenty-five miles to-night,
without passing any road that appeared so wide, or so much beaten as
that which I had traveled when I came from South Carolina. This night I
passed through a peach orchard, laden with fine ripe fruit, with which I
filled my pockets and hat; and before day, in crossing a corn-field, I
pulled a supply of roasting-ears, with which and my peaches, I retired
at break of day to a large wood, into which I traveled more than a mile
before I halted. Here, in the midst of a thicket of high whortleberry
bushes, I encamped for the day. I made my breakfast upon roasted corn
and peaches, and then lay down and slept, unmolested, until after twelve
o'clock, when I awoke and rose up for the purpose of taking a better
view of my quarters; but I was scarcely on my feet, when I was attacked
by a swarm of hornets, that issued from a large nest that hung on the
limb of a tree, within twenty or thirty feet of me.

I knew that the best means of making peace with my hostile neighbors,
was to lie down with my face to the ground, and this attitude I quickly
took, not however before I had been stung by several of my assailants,
which kept humming through the air about me for a long time, and
prevented me from leaving this spot until after sundown, and after they
had retired to rest for the night. I now commenced the attack on my
part, and taking a handful of dry leaves, approached the nest, which was
full as large as a half bushel, and thrusting the leaves into the hole
at the bottom of the nest, through which its tenants passed in and out,
secured the whole garrison prisoners in their own citadel. I now cut off
the branch upon which the nest hung, and threw it with its contents into
my evening fire, over which I roasted a supply of corn for my night's
journey.

Commencing my march this evening soon after nightfall, I traveled until
about one o'clock in the morning, as nearly as I could estimate the time
by the appearance of the stars, when I came upon a road which, from its
width and beaten appearance, seemed to be the road to Morgan County.
After traveling for a day or two near this road, I at last found myself
at daybreak one morning in sight of the home of my late master's friend,
spoken of in our journey to Savannah. I was desperately hungry, and the
idea swayed me to throw myself upon his generosity and beg for food.

It seemed to me that this gentleman was too benevolent a man to arrest
and send me back to my cruel mistress; and yet how could I expect, or
even hope, that a cotton planter would see a runaway slave on his
premises, and not cause him to be taken up and sent home? Failing to
seize a runaway slave, when he has him in his power, is held to be one
of the most dishonorable acts to which a southern planter can subject
himself. Nor should the people of the North be surprised at this. Slaves
are regarded, in the South, as the most precious of all earthly
possessions; and, at the same time, as a precarious and hazardous kind
of property, in the enjoyment of which the master is not safe. The
planters may well be compared to the inhabitants of a national frontier,
which is exposed to the inroads of hostile invading tribes. Where all
are in like danger, and subject to like fears, it is expected that all
will be governed by like sentiments, and act upon like principles.

I stood and looked at the house of this good planter for more than an
hour after the sun had risen, and saw all the movements which usually
take place on a cotton plantation in the morning. Long before the sun
was up, the overseer had proceeded to the field at the head of the
hands; the black women who attended to the cattle, and milked the cows,
had gone to the cowpen with their pails; and the smoke ascended from the
chimney of the kitchen, before the doors of the great house were opened,
or any of the members of the family were seen abroad. At length two
young ladies opened the door, and stood in the freshness of the morning
air. These were soon joined by a brother; and at last I saw the
gentleman himself leave the house and walk towards the stables, that
stood at some distance from the house on my left. I think even now that
it was a foolish resolution that emboldened me to show myself to this
gentleman. It was like throwing one's self in the way of a lion who is
known sometimes to spare those whom he might destroy; but I resolved to
go and meet this planter at his stables, and tell him my whole story.
Issuing from the woods, I crossed the fields unperceived by the people
at the house, and going directly to the stables, presented myself to
their proprietor, as he stood looking at a fine horse in one of the
yards. At first he did not know me, and asked me whose man I was. I then
asked him if he did not remember me; and named the time when I had been
at his house. I then told at once that I was a runaway: that my master
was dead, and my mistress so cruel that I could not live with her: not
omitting to show the scars on my back, and to give a full account of the
manner in which they had been made. The gentleman stood and looked at me
more than a minute, without uttering a word, and then said, "I will not
betray you, but you must not stay here. It must not be known that you
were on this plantation, and that I saw and conversed with you. However,
as I suppose you are hungry, you may go to the kitchen and get your
breakfast with my house servants."

He then set off for the house, and I followed, but turning into the
kitchen, as he ordered me, I was soon supplied with a good breakfast of
cold meat, warm bread, and as much new buttermilk as I chose to drink.
Before I sat down to breakfast, the lady of the house came into the
kitchen, with her two daughters, and gave me a dram of peach brandy. I
drank this brandy, and was very thankful for it; but I am fully
convinced now that it did me much more harm than good; and that this
part of the kindness of this most excellent family was altogether
misplaced.

Whilst I was taking my breakfast, a black man came into the kitchen, and
gave me a dollar that he said his master had sent me, at the same time
laying on the table before me a package of bread and meat, weighing at
least ten pounds, wrapped up in a cloth. On delivering these things, the
black man told me that his master desired me to quit his premises as
soon as I had finished my breakfast.

This injunction I obeyed, and within less than an hour after I entered
this truly hospitable house, I quitted it forever, but not without
leaving behind me my holiest blessings upon the heads of its
inhabitants. It was yet early in the morning when I regained the woods
on the opposite side of the plantation from that by which I had entered
it.



CHAPTER XVI.


I could not believe it possible that the white people whom I had just
left, would give information of the route I had taken; but as it was
possible that all who dwelt on this plantation might not be so pure of
heart as were they who possessed it, I thought it prudent to travel some
distance in the woods, before I stopped for the day, notwithstanding the
risk of moving about in the open light. For the purpose of precluding
the possibility of being betrayed, I now determined to quit this road,
and travel altogether in the woods or through open fields, for two or
three nights, guiding my march by the stars. In pursuance of this
resolution, I bore away to the left of the high road, and traveled five
or six miles before I stopped, going round all the fields that I saw in
my way, and keeping them at a good distance from me.

In the afternoon of this day it rained, and I had no other shelter than
the boughs and leaves of a large magnolia tree; but this kept me
tolerably dry, and as it cleared away in the evening, I was able to
continue my journey by starlight. I have no definite idea of the
distance that I traveled in the course of this and the two succeeding
nights, as I had no road to guide me, and was much perplexed by the
plantations and houses, the latter of which I most carefully eschewed;
but on the third night after this I encountered a danger, which was very
nearly fatal to me.

At the time of which I now speak, the moon having changed lately, shone
until about eleven o'clock. I had been on my way two or three hours this
evening, and all the world seemed to be quiet, when I entered a
plantation that lay quite across my way. In passing through these
fields, I at last saw the houses, and other improvements, and about a
hundred yards from the house, a peach orchard, which I could distinguish
by the faint light of the moon. This orchard was but little out of my
way, and a quarter of a mile, as nearly as I could judge, from the
woods. I resolved to examine these peach trees, and see what fruit was
on them. Coming amongst them, I found the fruit of the kind called
Indian peaches in Georgia.

These Indian peaches are much the largest and finest peaches that I have
ever seen, one of them oftentimes being as large as a common quince. I
had filled all my pockets, and was filling my handkerchief with this
delicious fruit, which is of deep red, when I heard the loud growl of a
dog toward the house, the roof of which I could see. I stood as still as
a stone, but yet the dog growled on, and at length barked out. I presume
he smelled me, for he could not hear me. In a short time I found that
the dog was coming towards me, and I then started and ran as fast as I
could for the woods. He now barked louder, and was followed by another
dog, both making a terrible noise. I was then pretty light of foot, and
was already close by the woods when the first dog overtook me. I carried
a good stick in my hand, and with this I kept the dogs at bay, until I
gained the fence and escaped into the woods; but now I heard the shouts
of men encouraging the dogs, both of which were now up with me, and the
men were coming as fast as they could. The dogs would not permit me to
run, and unless I could make free use of my heels, it was clear that I
must be taken in a few minutes. I now thought of my master's sword,
which I had not removed from its quilted scabbard, in my great coat,
since I commenced my journey. I snatched it from its sheath, and at a
single cut laid open the head of the largest and fiercest of the dogs,
from his neck to his nose. He gave a loud yell and fell dead on the
ground. The other dog, seeing the fate of his companion, leaped the
fence, and escaped into the field, where he stopped, and like a cowardly
cur, set up a clamorous barking at the enemy he was afraid to look in
the face. I thought this no time to wait to ascertain what the men would
say when they came to their dead dog, but made the best of my way
through the woods, and did not stop to look behind me for more than an
hour. In my battle with the dogs, I lost all my peaches, except a few
that remained in my pockets; and in running through the woods I tore my
clothes very badly, a disaster not easily repaired in my situation; but
I had proved the solidity of my own judgment in putting up my sword as a
part of my traveling equipage.

I now considered it necessary to travel as fast as possible, and get as
far as I could before day from the late battle-ground, and certainly I
lost no time; but from the occurrences of the next day, I am of opinion
that I had not continued in a straight line all night, but that I must
have traveled in a circular or zigzag route. When a man is greatly
alarmed, and in a strange country, he is not able to note courses, or
calculate distances very accurately.

Daylight made its appearance, when I was moving to the South, for the
daybreak was on my left hand; but I immediately stopped, went into a
thicket of low white oak bushes, and lay down to rest myself, for I was
very weary, and soon fell asleep, and did not awake until it was ten or
eleven o'clock. Before I fell asleep, I noted the course of the rising
sun, from the place where I lay, in pursuance of a rule that I had
established; for by this means I could tell the time of day at any hour,
within a short period of time, by taking the bearing of the sun in the
heavens, from where I lay, and then comparing it with the place of his
rising.

When I awoke to-day, I felt hungry and after eating my breakfast, again
lay down, but felt an unusual sense of disquietude and alarm. It seemed
to me that this was not a safe place to lie in, although it looked as
well as any other spot that I could see. I rose and looked for a more
secure retreat, but not seeing any, lay down again--still I was uneasy,
and could not lie still. Finally I determined to get up, and remove to
the side of a large and long black log, that lay at the distance of
seventy or eighty yards from me. I went to the log and lay down by it,
placing my bundle under my head, with the intention of going to sleep
again, if I could; but I had not been here more than fifteen or twenty
minutes, when I heard the noise of men's voices, and soon after the
tramping of horses on the ground. I lay with my back to the log in such
a position, that I could see the place where I had been in the bushes. I
saw two dogs go into this little thicket, and three horsemen rode over
the very spot where I had lain when asleep in the morning and
immediately horses and voices were at my back around me, and over me.
Two horses jumped over the log by the side of which I lay, one about ten
feet from my feet, and the other within two yards from my head. The
horses both saw me, took fright, and started to run; but fortunately
their riders, who were probably looking for me in the tops of the trees,
or expecting to see me start before them in the woods, and run for my
life, did not see me, and attributed the alarm of their horses to the
black appearance of the log, for I heard one of them say--"Our horses
are afraid of black logs: I wonder how they would stand the sight of the
negro if we should meet him."

There must have been in the troop at least twenty horsemen, and the
number of dogs was greater than I could count as they ran in the woods.
I knew that all these men and dogs were in search of me, and that if
they could find me I should be hunted down like a wild beast. The dogs
that had gone into the thicket where I had been, fortunately for me had
not been trained to hunt negroes in the woods, and were probably brought
out for the purpose of being trained.--Doubtless if some of the kept
dogs, as they are called of which there were certainly several in this
large pack had happened to go into that thicket, instead of those that
did go there, my race would soon have been run.

I lay still by the side of the log for a long time after the horses,
dogs and men had ceased to trouble the woods with their noise; if it
can be said that a man lies still who is trembling in every joint, nerve
and muscle, like a dog lying upon a cake of ice; and when I arose and
turned round, I found myself so completely bereft of understanding, that
I could not tell South from North, nor East from West. I could not even
distinguish the thicket of bushes, from which I had removed to come to
this place, from the other bushes of the woods. I remained here all day,
and at night it appeared to me that the sun set in the south-east. After
sundown, the moon appeared to my distempered judgment to stand due North
from me, and all the stars were out of their places. Fortunately I had
sense enough remaining to know that it would not be safe for me to
attempt to travel, until my brain had been restored to its ordinary
stability; which did not take place until the third morning after my
fright. The three days that I passed in this place I reckon the most
unhappy of my life; for surely it is the height of human misery to be
oppressed with alienation of mind, and to be conscious of the
affliction.

Distracted as I was, I had determined never to quit this wood, and
voluntarily return to slavery; and the joy I felt on the third morning,
when I saw the sun rise in his proper place in the heavens; the black
log, the thicket of bushes, and all other things resume the positions in
which I found them, may be imagined by those who have been saved from
apparently hopeless shipwreck on a barren rock in the midst of the
ocean, but cannot be described by any but a poetic pen.

I spent this day in making short excursions through the woods, for the
purpose of ascertaining whether any road was near to me or not; and in
the afternoon I came to one, about a mile from my camp, which was broad,
and had the appearance of being much traveled. It appeared to me to lead
to the North.

Awhile before sundown, I brought my bundle to this road, and lay down
quietly to await the approach of night. When it was quite dark, except
the light of the moon, which was now brilliant, I took to this road, and
traveled all night without hearing or seeing any person, and on the
succeeding night, about two o'clock in the morning, I came to the margin
of a river, so wide that I could not see across it; but the fog was so
dense at this time that I could not have seen across a river of very
moderate width. I procured a long pole, and sounded the depth of the
water, which I found not very deep; but as I could not see the opposite
shore, was afraid to attempt to ford the stream.

In this dilemma, I turned back from the river, and went more than a mile
to gain the covert of a small wood, where I might pass the day in
safety, and wait a favorable moment for obtaining a view of the river,
preparatory to crossing it. I lay all day in full view of the high
road, and saw, at least, a hundred people pass; from which I inferred,
that the country was populous about me. In the evening, as soon as it
was dark, I left my retreat, and returned to the river side. The
atmosphere was now clear, and the river seemed to be at least a quarter
of a mile in width; and whilst I was divesting myself of my clothes,
preparatory to entering the water, happening to look down the shore I
saw a canoe, with its head drawn high on the beach. On reaching the
canoe, I found that it was secured to the trunk of a tree by a lock and
chain; but after many efforts, I broke the lock and launched the canoe
into the river. The paddles had been removed, but with the aid of my
sounding-pole, I managed to conduct the canoe across the water.

I was now once more in South Carolina, where I knew it was necessary for
me to be even more watchful than I had been in Georgia. I do not know
where I crossed the Savannah river, but I think it must have been only a
few miles above the town of Augusta.

After gaining the Carolina shore, I took an observation of the rising
moon and of such stars as I was acquainted with, and hastened to get
away from the river, from which I knew that heavy fogs rose every night,
at this season of the year, obscuring the heavens for many miles on
either side. I traveled this night at least twenty miles, and provided
myself with a supply of corn, which was now hard, from a field at the
side of the road. At daybreak I turned into the woods, and went to the
top of a hill on my left, where the ground was overgrown by the species
of pine-tree called spruce in the South. I here kindled a fire, and
parched corn for my breakfast.

In the afternoon of this day the weather became cloudy, and before dark
the rain fell copiously, and continued through the night, with the wind
high. I took shelter under a large stooping tree that was decayed and
hollow on the lower side, and kept me dry until morning. When daylight
appeared, I could see that the country around me was well inhabited, and
that the forest in which I lay was surrounded by plantations, at the
distance of one or two miles from me. I did not consider this a safe
position, and waited anxiously for night, to enable me to change my
quarters. The weather was foul throughout the day; and when night
returned, it was so dark that I could not see a large tree three feet
before me. Waiting until the moon rose, I made my way back to the road,
but had not proceeded more than two or three miles on my way, when I
came to a place where the road forked, and the two roads led away almost
at right angles from each other. It was so cloudy that I could not see
the place of the moon in the heavens, and I knew not which of these
roads to take. To go wrong was worse than to stand still, and I
therefore determined to look out for some spot in which I could hide
myself, and remain in this neighborhood until the clearing up of the
weather. Taking the right hand road, I followed its course until I saw
at the distance, as I computed it in the night, of two miles from me a
large forest which covered elevated ground. I gained it by the shortest
route across some cotton fields. Going several hundred yards into this
wood, I attempted to kindle a fire, in which I failed, every combustible
substance being wet. This compelled me to pass the night as well as I
could amongst the damp bushes and trees that overhung me. When day came,
I went farther into the woods, and on the top of the highest ground that
I could see, established my camp, by cutting bushes with my knife, and
erecting a sort of rude booth.

It was now, by my computation, about the twenty-fifth of August, and I
remained here eleven days without seeing one clear night; and in all
this time the sun never shone for half a day at once. I procured my
subsistence while here from a field of corn which I discovered at the
distance of a mile and a half from my camp. This was the first time that
I was weather-bound, and my patience had been worn out and renewed
repeatedly before the return of the clear weather; but one afternoon I
perceived the trees to be much agitated by the wind, the clouds
appeared high, and were driven with velocity over my head. I saw the
clear sky appear in all its beauty in the north-west. Before sundown the
wind was high, the sun shone in full splendor, and a few fleecy clouds,
careering high in the upper vault of heaven, gave assurance that the
rains were over and gone.

At nightfall I returned to the forks of the road, and after much
observation, finally concluded to follow the right hand road, in which I
am satisfied that I committed a great error. Nothing worthy of notice
occurred for several days after this. As I was now in a thickly-peopled
country, I never moved until long after night, and was cautious never to
permit daylight to find me on the road; but I observed that the
north-star was always on my left hand. My object was to reach the
neighborhood of Columbia, and get upon the road which I had traveled and
seen years before in coming to the South; but the road I was now on must
have been the great Charleston road, leading down the country, and not
across the courses of the rivers. So many people traveled this road, as
well by night as by day, that my progress was very slow; and in some of
the nights I did not travel more than eight miles. At the end of a week,
after leaving the forks, I found myself in a flat, sandy, poor country;
and as I had not met with any river on this road, I now concluded that
I was on the way to the sea-board instead of Columbia. In my perplexity,
I resolved to try to get information concerning the country I was in, by
placing myself in some obscure place in the side of the road, and
listening to the conversation of travelers as they passed me. For this
purpose I chose the corner of a cotton field, around which the road
turned, and led along the fence for some distance. Passing the day in
the woods among the pine-trees, I came to this corner in the evening,
and lying down within the field, waited patiently the coming of
travelers, that I might hear their conversation, and endeavor to learn
from that which they said, the name at least of some place in this
neighborhood. On the first and second evenings that I lay here, I
gleaned nothing from the passengers that I thought could be of service
to me; but on the third night, about ten o'clock, several wagons drawn
by mules passed me, and I heard one of the drivers call to another and
tell him that it was sixty miles to Charleston; and that they should be
able to reach the river to-morrow. I could not at first imagine what
river this could be; but another of the wagoners inquired how far it was
to the Edisto, to which it was replied by some one that it was near
thirty miles. I now perceived that I had mistaken my course, and was as
completely lost as a wild goose in cloudy weather.

Not knowing what to do, I retraced the road that had led me to this
place for several nights, hoping that something would happen from which
I might learn the route to Columbia; but I gained no information that
could avail me anything. At length I determined to quit this road
altogether, travel by the north-star for two or three weeks, and after
that to trust to Providence to guide me to some road that might lead me
back to Maryland. Having turned my face due North, I made my way pretty
well for the first night; but on the second, the fog was so dense that
no stars could be seen. This compelled me to remain in my camp, which I
had pitched in a swamp. In this place I remained more than a week,
waiting for clear nights; but now the equinoctial storm came on, and
raged with a fury which I had never before witnessed in this annual
gale; at least it had never before appeared so violent to me, because,
perhaps, I had never been exposed to its blasts, without the shelter of
a house of some kind. This storm continued four days; and no wolf ever
lay closer in his lair, or moved out with more stealthy caution than I
did during this time. My subsistence was drawn from a small corn-field
at the edge of the swamp in which I lay.

After the storm was over, the weather became calm and clear, and I fell
into a road which appeared to run nearly north-west. Following the
course of this road by short marches, because I was obliged to start
late at night and stop before day, I came on the first day, or rather
night, of October, by my calendar, to a broad and well-frequented road
that crossed mine at nearly right angles. These roads crossed in the
middle of a plantation, and I took to the right hand along this great
road, and pursued it in the same cautious and slow manner that I had
traveled for the last month.

When the day came I took refuge in the woods as usual, choosing the
highest piece of ground that I could find in the neighborhood. No part
of this country was very high, but I thought people who visited these
woods, would be less inclined to walk to the tops of the hills, than to
keep their course along the low grounds.

I had lately crossed many small streams; but on the second night of my
journey on this road, came to a narrow but deep river, and after the
most careful search, no boat or craft of any kind could be found on my
side. A large flat, with two or three canoes, lay on the opposite side,
but they were as much out of my reach as if they had never been made.
There was no alternative but swimming this stream, and I made the
transit in less than three minutes, carrying my packages on my back.

I had as yet fallen in with no considerable towns, and whenever I had
seen a house near the road, or one of the small hamlets of the South in
my way, I had gone round by the woods or fields, so as to avoid the
inhabitants; but on the fourth night after swimming the small river, I
came in sight of a considerable village, with lights burning and shining
through many of the windows. I knew the danger of passing a town, on
account of the patrols with which all southern towns are provided, and
making a long circuit to the right, so as totally to avoid this village,
I came to the banks of a broad river, which, upon further examination, I
found flowing past the village, and near its border. This compelled me
to go back, and attempt to turn the village on the left, which was
performed by wandering a long time in swamps and pine woods.

It was break of day when I regained the road beyond the village, and
returning to the swamps from which I had first issued, I passed the day
under their cover. On the following night, after regaining the road, I
soon found myself in a country almost entirely clear of timber, and
abounding in fields of cotton and corn.

The houses were numerous, and the barking of dogs was incessant. I felt
that I was in the midst of dangers, and that I was entering a region
very different from those tracts of country through which I had lately
passed, where the gloom of the wilderness was only broken by solitary
plantations or lonely huts. I had no doubt that I was in the
neighborhood of some town, but of its name, and the part of the country
in which it was located, I was ignorant. I at length found that I was
receding from the woods altogether, and entering a champaign country, in
the midst of which I now perceived a town of considerable magnitude, the
inhabitants of which were entirely silent, and the town itself presented
the appearance of total solitude. The country around was so open, that I
despaired of turning so large a place as this was, and again finding the
road I traveled, I therefore determined to risk all consequences, and
attempt to pass this town under cover of darkness.

Keeping straight forward, I came unexpectedly to a broad river, which I
now saw running between me and the town. I took it for granted that
there must be a ferry at this place, and on examining the shore, found
several small boats fastened only with ropes to a large scow. One of
these boats I seized, and was quickly on the opposite shore of the
river. I entered the village and proceeded to its centre, without seeing
so much as a rat in motion. Finding myself in an open space, I stopped
to examine the streets, and upon looking at the houses around me, I at
once recognized the jail of Columbia, and the tavern in which I had
lodged on the night after I was sold.

This discovery made me feel almost at home, with my wife and children.
I remembered the streets by which I had come from the country to the
jail, and was quickly at the extremity of the town, marching towards the
residence of the paltry planter, at whose house I had lodged on my way
South. It was late at night, when I left Columbia, and it was necessary
for me to make all speed, and get as far as possible from that place
before day. I ran rather than walked, until the appearance of dawn, when
I left the road and took shelter in the pine woods, with which this part
of the country abounds.

I had now been traveling almost two months, and was still so near the
place from which I first departed that I could easily have walked to it
in a week, by daylight; but I hoped, that as I was now on a road with
which I was acquainted, and in a country through which I had traveled
before, that my future progress would be more rapid, and that I should
be able to surmount, without difficulty, many of the obstacles that had
hitherto embarrassed me so greatly.

It was now in my power to avail myself of the knowledge I had formerly
acquired of the customs of South Carolina. The patrol are very rigid in
the execution of the authority with which they are invested; but I never
had much difficulty with these officers anywhere. From dark until ten or
eleven o'clock at night, the patrol are watchful, and always traversing
the country in quest of negroes, but towards midnight these gentlemen
grow cold, or sleepy, or weary, and generally betake themselves to some
house, where they can procure a comfortable fire.

I now established, as a rule of my future conduct, to remain in my
hiding place until after ten o'clock, according to my computation of
time; and this night I did not come to the road until I supposed it to
be within an hour of midnight, and it was well for me that I practiced
so much caution, for when within two or three hundred yards of the road,
I heard people conversing. After standing some minutes in the woods, and
listening to the voices at the road, the people separated, and a party
took each end of the road, and galloped away upon their horses. These
people were certainly a band of patrollers, who were watching this road,
and had just separated to return home for the night. After the horsemen
were quite out of hearing, I came to the road, and walked as fast as I
could for hours, and again came into the lane leading to the house,
where I had first remained a few days, in Carolina. Turning away from
the road I passed through this plantation, near the old cotton-gin house
in which I had formerly lodged, and perceived that every thing on this
plantation was nearly as it was when I left it. Two or three miles from
this place I again left the road, and sought a place of concealment, and
from this time until I reached Maryland, I never remained in the road
until daylight but once, and I paid dearly then for my temerity.

I was now in an open, thickly-peopled country, in comparison with many
other tracts through which I had passed; and this circumstance compelled
me to observe the greater caution. As nearly as possible, I confined my
traveling within the hours of midnight and three o'clock in the morning.
Parties of patrollers were heard by me almost every morning before day.
These people sometimes moved directly along the roads, but more
frequently lay in wait near the side of the road, ready to pounce upon
any runaway slave that might chance to pass; but I knew by former
experience that they never lay out all night, except in times of
apprehended danger; and the country appearing at this time to be quiet,
I felt but little apprehension of falling in with these policemen,
within my traveling hours.

There was now plenty of corn in the fields, and sweet potatoes had not
yet been dug. There was no scarcity of provisions with me, and my health
was good, and my strength unimpaired. For more than two weeks I pursued
the road that had led me from Columbia, believing I was on my way to
Camden.--Many small streams crossed my way, but none of them were large
enough to oblige me to swim in crossing them.



CHAPTER XVII.


On the twenty-fourth of October, according to my computation, in a dark
night, I came to a river which appeared to be both broad and deep.
Sounding its depth with a pole, I found it too deep to be forded, and
after the most careful search along the shore, no boat could be
discovered. This place appeared altogether strange to me, and I began to
fear that I was again lost. Confident that I had never before been where
I now found myself, and ignorant of the other side of the stream, I
thought it best not to attempt to cross this water until I was better
informed of the country through which it flowed. A thick wood bordered
the road on my left, and gave me shelter until daylight. Ascending a
tree at sunrise that overlooked the stream, which appeared to be more
than a mile in width, I perceived on the opposite shore a house, and one
large and several small boats in the river. I remained in this tree the
greater part of the day, and saw several persons cross the river, some
of whom had horses; but in the evening the boats were all taken back to
the place at which I had seen them in the morning. The river was so
broad that I felt some fear of failing in the attempt to swim it; but
seeing no prospect of procuring a boat to transport me, I resolved to
attempt the navigation as soon as it was dark. About nine o'clock at
night, having equipped myself in the best manner I was able, I undertook
this hazardous navigation, and succeeded in gaining the farther shore of
the river, in about an hour, with all my things in safety. On the
previous day I had noted the bearing of the road, as it led from the
river, and in the middle of the night I again resumed my journey, in a
state of perplexity bordering upon desperation; for it was now evident
that this was not the road by which we had traveled when we came to the
southern country, and on which hand to turn to reach the right way I
knew not.

After traveling five or six miles on this road, and having the
north-star in view all the time, I became satisfied that my course lay
northwest, and that I was consequently going out of my way; and to
heighten my anxiety, I had not tasted any animal food since I crossed
the Savannah river--a sensation of hunger harassed me constantly; but
fortune, which had been so long adverse to me, and had led me so often
astray, had now a little favor in store for me. The leaves were already
fallen from some of the more tender trees, and near the road I this
night perceived a persimmon tree, well laden with fruit, and whilst
gathering the fallen persimmons under the tree, a noise over head
arrested my attention. This noise was caused by a large opossum, which
was on the tree gathering fruit like myself. With a long stick the
animal was brought to the ground, and it proved to be very fat, weighing
at least ten pounds. With such a luxury as this in my possession, I
could not think of traveling far without tasting it, and accordingly
halted about a mile from the persimmon tree, on a rising ground in a
thick wood, where I killed my opossum, and took off its skin, a
circumstance that I much regretted, for with the skin I took at least a
pound of fine fat. Had I possessed the means of scalding my game, and
dressing it like a pig, it would have afforded me provision for a week;
but as it was, I made a large fire and roasted my prize before it,
losing all the oil that ran out in the operation, for want of a
dripping-pan to catch it. It was daylight when my meat was ready for the
table, and a very sumptuous breakfast it yielded me.

Since leaving Columbia, I had followed as nearly as the course of the
roads permitted, the index of the north-star; which, I supposed, would
lead me on the most direct route to Maryland; but I now became
convinced, that this star was leading me away from the line by which I
had approached the cotton country.

I slept none this day, but passed the whole time, from breakfast until
night, in considering the means of regaining my lost way. From the
aspect of the country I arrived at the conclusion, that I was not near
the sea-coast; for there were no swamps in all this region; the land lay
rather high and rolling, and oak timber abounded.

At the return of night, I resumed my journey earlier than usual; paying
no regard to the roads, but keeping the north-star on my left hand, as
nearly as I could. This night I killed a rabbit, which had leaped from
the bushes before me, by throwing my walking stick at it. It was roasted
at my stopping place in the morning, and was very good.

I pursued the same course, keeping the north-star on my left hand for
three nights; intending to get as far East as the road leading from
Columbia to Richmond, in Virginia; but as my line of march lay almost
continually in the woods, I made but little progress; and on the third
day, the weather became cloudy, so that I could not see the stars. This
again compelled me to lie by, until the return of fair weather.

On the second day, after I had stopped this time, the sun shone out
bright in the morning, and continued to shed a glorious light during the
day; but in the evening, the heavens became overcast with clouds; and
the night that followed was so dark, that I did not attempt to travel.
This state of the weather continued more than a week; obliging me to
remain stationary all this time. These cloudy nights were succeeded by a
brisk wind from the north-west, accompanied by fine clear nights, in
which I made the best of my way towards the north-east, pursuing my
course across the country without regard to roads, forests, or streams
of water; crossing many of the latter, none of which were deep, but some
of them were extremely muddy. One night I became entangled in a thick
and deep swamp; the trees that grew in which, were so tall, and stood so
close together, that the interlocking of their boughs, and the deep
foliage in which they were clad, prevented me from seeing the stars.
Wandering there for several hours, most of the time with mud and water
over my knees, and frequently wading in stagnant pools, with deep slimy
bottoms, I became totally lost, and was incapable of seeing the least
appearance of fast land. At length, giving up all hope of extricating
myself from this abyss of mud, water, brambles, and fallen timber, I
scrambled on a large tussock, and sat down to await the coming of day,
with the intention of going to the nearest high land, as soon as the sun
should be up. The nights were now becoming cool, and though I did not
see any frost in the swamp where I was in the morning, I have no doubt
that hoar frost was seen in the dry and open country. After daylight I
found myself as much perplexed as I was at midnight. No shore was to be
seen; and in every direction there was the same deep, dreary, black
solitude. To add to my misfortune, the morning proved cloudy, and when
the sun was up, I could not tell the east from the west. After waiting
several hours for a sight of the sun, and failing to obtain it, I set
out in search of a running stream of water, intending to strike off at
right angles, with the course of the current, and endeavor to reach the
dry ground by this means; but after wandering about, through tangled
bushes, briars, and vines, clambering over fallen tree-tops, and wading
through fens overgrown with saw grass, for two or three hours, I sat
down in despair of finding any guide to conduct me from this detestable
place.

My bag of meal that I took with me at the commencement of my journey was
long since gone; and the only provisions that I now possessed were a few
grains of parched corn, and near a pint of chestnuts that I had picked
up under a tree the day before I entered the swamp. The chestnut-tree
was full of nuts, but I was afraid to throw sticks or to shake the tree,
lest hunters or other persons hearing the noise, might be drawn to the
place.

About ten o'clock I sat down under a large cypress tree, upon a decaying
log of the same timber, to make my breakfast on a few grains of parched
corn. Near me was an open space without trees, but filled with water
that seemed to be deep, for no grass grew in it, except a small quantity
near the shore. The water was on my left hand, and as I sat cracking my
corn, my attention was attracted by the playful gambols of two squirrels
that were running and chasing each other on the boughs of some trees
near me. Half pleased with the joyous movements of the little animals,
and half covetous of their carcasses, to roast and devour them, I paid
no attention to a succession of sounds on my left, which I thought
proceeded from the movement of frogs at the edge of the water, until the
breaking of a stick near me caused me to turn my head, when I discovered
that I had other neighbors than spring frogs.

A monstrous alligator had left the water, and was crawling over the mud,
with his eyes fixed upon me. He was now within fifteen feet of me, and
in a moment more, if he had not broken the stick with his weight, I
should have become his prey. He could easily have knocked me down with a
blow of his tail; and if his jaws had once been closed on a leg or an
arm, he would have dragged me into the water, spite of any resistance
that I could have made.

At the sight of him, I sprang to my feet, and running to the other end
of the fallen tree on which I sat, and being there out of danger, had an
opportunity of viewing the motions of the alligator at leisure. Finding
me out of his reach, he raised his trunk from the ground, elevated his
snout, and gave a wistful look, the import of which I well understood;
then turning slowly round, he retreated to the water, and sank from my
vision.

I was much alarmed by this adventure with the alligator, for had I
fallen in with this huge reptile in the night time, I should have had no
chance of escape from his tusks.

The whole day was spent in the swamp, not in traveling from place to
place, but in waiting for the sun to shine, to enable me to obtain a
knowledge of the various points of the heavens. The day was succeeded by
a night of unbroken darkness; and it was late in the evening of the
second day before I saw the sun. It being then too late to attempt to
extricate myself from the swamp for that day, I was obliged to pass
another night in the lodge that I had formed for myself in the thick
boughs of a fallen cypress tree, which elevated me several feet from the
ground, where I believed the alligator could not reach me if he should
come in pursuit of me.

On the morning of the third day the sun rose beautifully clear, and at
sight of him I set off for the East. It must have been five miles from
the place where I lay to the dry land on the East of the swamp; for with
all the exertion that fear and hunger compelled me to make, it was two
or three o'clock in the afternoon when I reached the shore, after
swimming in several places, and suffering the loss of a very valuable
part of my clothes, which were torn off by the briars and snags. On
coming to high ground I found myself in the woods, and hungry as I was,
lay down to await the coming of night, lest some one should see me
moving through the forest in daylight.

When night came on, I resumed my journey by the stars, which were
visible, and marched several miles before coming to a plantation. The
first that I came to was a cotton field; and after much search, I found
no corn nor grain of any kind on this place, and was compelled to
continue on my way.

Two or three miles further on I was more fortunate, and found a field of
corn which had been gathered from the stalks and thrown in heaps along
the ground.--Filling my little bag, which I still kept, with this corn,
I retreated a mile or two in the woods, and striking fire, encamped for
the purpose of parching and eating it. After despatching my meal, I lay
down beside the fire and fell into a sound sleep, from which I did not
awake until long after sunrise; but on rising and looking around me, I
found that my lodge was within less than a hundred yards of a new house
that people were building in the woods, and upon which men were now at
work. Dropping instantly to the ground, I crawled away through the
woods, until being out of sight of the house, I ventured to rise and
escape on my feet. After I lay down in the night, my fire had died away
and emitted no smoke; this circumstance saved me. This affair made me
more cautious as to my future conduct.

Hiding in the woods until night again came on, I continued my course
eastward, and some time after midnight came upon a wide, well beaten
road, one end of which led, at this place, a little to the left of the
north-star, which I could plainly see. Here I deliberated a long time,
whether to take this road, or continue my course across the country by
the stars; but at last resolved to follow the road, more from a desire
to get out of the woods, than from a conviction that it would lead me in
the right way. In the course of this night I saw but few plantations,
but was so fortunate as to see a ground-hog crossing the road before me.
This animal I killed with my stick, and carried it until morning.

At the approach of daylight, turning away to the right, I gained the top
of an eminence, from which I could see through the woods for some
distance around me. Here I kindled a fire and roasted my ground-hog,
which afforded me a most grateful repast, after my late fasting and
severe toils. According to custom my meal being over, I betook myself to
sleep, and did not awake until the afternoon; when descending a few rods
down the hill, and standing still to take a survey of the woods around
me, I saw, at the distance of half a mile from me, a man moving slowly
about in the forest, and apparently watching, like myself, to see if any
one was in view. Looking at this man attentively, I saw that he was a
black, and that he did not move more than a few rods from the same spot
where I first saw him. Curiosity impelled me to know more of the
condition of my neighbor; and descending quite to the foot of the hill,
I perceived that he had a covert of boughs of trees, under which I saw
him pass, and after some time return again from his retreat. Examining
the appearance of things carefully, I became satisfied that the stranger
was, like myself, a negro slave, and I determined, without more
ceremony, to go and speak to him, for I felt no fear of being betrayed
by one as badly off in the world as myself.

When this man first saw me, at the distance of a hundred yards from him,
he manifested great agitation, and at once seemed disposed to run from
me; but when I called to him, and told him not to be afraid, he became
more assured, and waited for me to come close to him. I found him to be
a dark mulatto, small and slender in person, and lame in one leg. He had
been well bred, and possessed good manners and fine address. I told him
I was traveling, and presumed this was not his dwelling place: upon
which he informed me that he was a native of Kent county, in the State
of Delaware, and had been brought up as a house-servant by his master,
who, on his death-bed, had made his will, and directed him to be set
free by his executors, at the age of twenty-five, and that in the
meantime he would be hired out as a servant to some person who should
treat him well. Soon after the death of his master, the executors hired
him to a man in Wilmington, who employed him as a waiter in his house
for three or four months, and then took him to a small town called
Newport, and sold him to a man who took him immediately to Baltimore,
where he was again sold or transferred to another man, who brought him
to South Carolina, and sold him to a cotton planter, with whom he had
lived more than two years, and had run away three weeks before the time
I saw him, with the intention of returning to Delaware.

That being lame, and becoming fatigued by traveling, he had stopped here
and made this shelter of boughs and bark of trees, under which he had
remained more than a week before I met him. He invited me to go into his
camp as he termed it, where he had an old skillet, more than a bushel
of potatoes, and several fowls, all of which he said he had purloined
from the plantations in the neighborhood.

This encampment was in a level, open wood, and it appeared surprising to
me that its occupant had not been discovered and conveyed back to his
master before this time. I told him that I thought he ran great risk of
being taken up by remaining here, and advised him to break up his lodge
immediately, and pursue his journey, traveling only in the night time.
He then proposed to join me, and travel in company with me; but this I
declined, because of his lameness and great want of discretion, though I
did not assign these reasons to him.

I remained with this man two or three hours, and ate dinner of fowls
dressed after his rude fashion.--Before leaving him, I pressed upon him
the necessity of immediately quitting the position he then occupied, but
he said he intended to remain there a few days longer, unless I would
take him with me.

On quitting my new acquaintance, I thought it prudent to change my place
of abode for the residue of this day, and removed along the top of the
hill that I occupied at least two miles, and concealed myself in a
thicket until night, when returning to the road I had left in the
morning, and traveling hard all night, I came to a large stream of water
just at the break of day. As it was too late to pass the river with
safety this morning at this ford, I went half a mile higher, and swam
across the stream in open daylight, at a place where both sides of the
water were skirted with woods. I had several large potatoes that had
been given to me by the man at his camp in the woods, and these
constituted my rations for this day.

At the rising and setting of the sun, I took the bearing of the road by
the course of the stream that I had crossed, and found that I was
traveling to the northwest, instead of the north or northeast, to one of
which latter points I wished to direct my march.

Having perceived the country in which I now was to be thickly peopled, I
remained in my resting place until late at night, when returning to the
road and crossing it, I took once more to the woods, with the stars for
my guides, and steered for the northeast.

This was a fortunate night for me in all respects. The atmosphere was
clear, the ground was high, dry, and free from thickets. In the course
of the night I passed several corn fields, with the corn still remaining
in them, and passed a potato lot, in which large quantities of fine
potatoes were dug out of the ground and lay in heaps covered with vines;
but my most signal good luck occurred just before day, when passing
under a dog-wood tree, and hearing a noise in the branches above me, I
looked up and saw a large opossum amongst the berries that hung upon the
boughs. The game was quickly shaken down, and turned out as fat as a
well-fed pig, and as heavy as a full-grown raccoon. My attention was now
turned to searching for a place in which I could secrete myself for the
day, and dress my provisions in quietness.

This day was clear and beautiful until the afternoon, when the air
became damp, and the heavens were overhung with clouds. The night that
followed was dark as pitch, compelling me to remain in my camp all
night. The next day brought with it a terrible storm of rain and wind,
that continued with but little intermission, more than twenty-four
hours, and the sun was not again visible until the third day; nor was
there a clear night for more than a week. During all this time I lay in
my camp, and subsisted upon the provisions that I had brought with me to
this place. The corn and potatoes looked so tempting, when I saw them in
the fields, that I had taken more than I should have consumed, had not
the bad weather compelled me to remain at this spot; but it was well for
me, for this time, that I had taken more than I could eat in one or two
days.

At the end of the cloudy weather, I felt much refreshed and
strengthened, and resumed my journey in high spirits, although I now
began to feel the want of shoes--those which I wore when I left my
mistress having long since been worn out, and my boots were wrap straps
of hickory bark about my feet to keep the leather from separating, and
falling to pieces.

It was now, by my computation, the month of November, and I was yet in
the State of South Carolina. I began to consider with myself, whether I
had gained or lost, by attempting to travel on the roads; and, after
revolving in my mind all the disasters that had befallen me, determined
to abandon the roads altogether, for two reasons: the first of which
was, that on the highways I was constantly liable to meet persons, or to
be overtaken by them; and a second, no less powerful, was, that as I did
not know what roads to pursue, I was oftener traveling on the wrong
route than on the right one.

Setting my face once more for the north-star, I advanced with a steady,
though slow pace, for four or five nights, when I was again delayed by
dark weather, and forced to remain in idleness nearly two weeks; and
when the weather again became clear, I was arrested on the second night
by a broad and rapid river, that appeared so formidable that I did not
dare to attempt its passage until after examining it in daylight. On the
succeeding night, however, I crossed it by swimming--resting at some
large rocks near the middle. After gaining the north side of this river,
which I believed to be the Catawba, I considered myself in North
Carolina, and again steered towards the North.



CHAPTER XVIII.


The month of November is, in all years, a season of clouds and vapors;
but at the time of which I write, the good weather vanished early in the
month, and all the clouds of the universe seemed to have collected in
North Carolina. From the second night after crossing the Catawba, I did
not see the north-star for the space of three weeks; and during all this
time, no progress was made in my journey; although I seldom remained two
days in the same place, but moved from one position to another, for the
purpose of eluding the observation of the people of the country, whose
attention might have been attracted by the continual appearance of the
smoke of my fires in one place.

There had, as yet, been no hard frost, and the leaves were still on the
oak trees, at the close of this cloudy weather; but the northwest wind
which dispelled the mist, also brought down nearly all the leaves of the
forest, except those of the evergreen trees; and the nights now became
clear, and the air keen with frost. Hitherto the oak woods had afforded
me the safest shelter, but now I was obliged to seek for groves of young
pines to retire to at dawn. Heretofore I had found a plentiful
subsistence in every corn-field and potato-lot, that fell in my way; but
now began to find some of the fields in which corn had grown, destitute
of the corn, and containing nothing but the stalks. The potatoes had all
been taken out of the lots where they grew, except in some few instances
where they had been buried in the field; and the means of subsistence
became every day more difficult to be obtained; but as I had fine
weather, I made the best use of those hours in which I dared to travel,
and was constantly moving from a short time after dark until daylight.
The toil that I underwent for the first half of the month of December
was excessive, and my sufferings for want of food were great. I was
obliged to carry with me a stock of corn, sufficient to supply me for
two or three days, for it frequently happened that I met with none in
the fields for a long time. In the course of this period I crossed
innumerable streams, the greater portion of which were of small size,
but some were of considerable magnitude; and in all of them the water
had become almost as cold as ice. Sometimes I was fortunate enough to
find boats or canoes tied at the side of the streams, and when this
happened, I always made free use of that which no one else was using at
the time; but this did not occur often, and I believe that in these two
weeks I swam over nine rivers, or streams, so deep that I could not ford
them. The number of creeks and rivulets through which I waded was far
greater, but I cannot now fix the number.

In one of these fine nights, passing near the house of a planter, I saw
several dry hides hanging on poles under a shed. One of these hides I
appropriated to myself, for the purpose of converting it into moccasins,
to supply the place of my boots, which were totally worthless. By
beating the dry hide with a stick it was made sufficiently pliable to
bear making it into moccasins; of which I made for myself three pair,
wearing one, and carrying the others on my back.

One day as I lay in a pine thicket, several pigs which appeared to be
wild, having no marks on their ears, came near me, and one of them
approached so close without seeing me, that I knocked it down with a
stone, and succeeded in killing it. This pig was very fat, and would
have weighed thirty if not forty pounds. Feeling now greatly exhausted
with the fatigues that I had lately undergone, and being in a very great
forest, far removed from white inhabitants, I resolved to remain a few
days in this place, to regale myself with the flesh of the pig, which I
preserved by hanging it up in the shade, after cutting it into pieces.
Fortune, so adverse to me heretofore, seemed to have been more kind to
me at this time, for the very night succeeding the day on which I killed
the pig, a storm of hail, snow, and sleet, came on, and continued
fifteen or sixteen hours. The snow lay on the ground four inches in
depth, and the whole country was covered with a crust almost hard enough
to bear a man. In this state of the weather I could not travel, and my
stock of pork was invaluable to me. The pork was frozen where it hung on
the branches of the trees, and was as well preserved as if it had been
buried in snow; but on the fourth day after the snow fell, the
atmosphere underwent a great change. The wind blew from the South, the
snow melted away, the air became warm, and the sun shone with the
brightness, and almost with the warmth of Spring. It was manifest that
my pork, which was now soft and oily, would not long be in a sound
state. If I remained here, my provisions would become putrid on my hands
in a short time, and compel me to quit my residence to avoid the
atmosphere of the place.

I resolved to pursue my journey, and prepared myself, by roasting before
the fire, all my pork that was left, wrapping it up carefully in green
pine leaves, and enveloping the whole in a sort of close basket, that I
made of small boughs of trees. Equipping myself for my journey with my
meat in my knapsack, I again took to the woods, with the stars for my
guide, keeping the north-star over my left eye.

The weather had now become exceedingly variable, and I was seldom able
to travel more than half of the night. The fields were muddy, the low
grounds in the woods were wet, and often covered with water, through
which I was obliged to wade--the air was damp and cold by day, the
nights were frosty, very often covering the water with ice an inch in
thickness. From the great degree of cold that prevailed, I inferred,
either that I was pretty far North, or that I had advanced too much to
the left, and was approaching the mountain country.

To satisfy myself as far as possible of my situation, one fair day, when
the sky was very clear, I climbed to the top of a pine tree that stood
on the summit of a hill, and took a wide survey of the region around me.
Eastward, I saw nothing but a vast continuation of plantations,
intervened by forests; on the South, the faint beams of a winter sun
shed a soft lustre over the woods, which were dotted at remote
distances, with the habitations of men, and the openings that they had
made in the green champaign of the endless pine-groves, that nature had
planted in the direction of the midday sun. On the North, at a great
distance, I saw a tract of low and flat country, which in my opinion
was the vale of some great river, and beyond this, at the farthest
stretch of vision, the eye was lost in the blue transparent vault, where
the extremity of the arch of the world touches the abode of perpetual
winter.--Turning westward, the view passed beyond the region of pine
trees, which was followed afar off by naked and leafless oaks,
hickories, and walnuts; and still beyond these rose high in air,
elevated tracts of country, clad in the white livery of snow, and
bearing the impress of mid-winter.

It was now apparent that I had borne too far westward, and was within a
few days' travel of the mountains. Descending from my observations, I
determined on the return of night to shape my course, for the future,
nearly due East, until I should at least be out of the mountains.

According to my calendar, it was the day before Christmas that I
ascended the pine-tree; and I believe I was at that time in the
north-western part of North Carolina, not far from the banks of the
Yadkin river. On the following night I traveled from dark until, as I
supposed, about three or four o'clock in the morning, when I came to a
road which led as I thought in an easterly direction. This road I
traveled until daylight, and encamped near it in an old field, overgrown
with young pines and holly-trees.

This was Christmas-day, and I celebrated it by breakfasting on fat
pork, without salt, and substituted parched corn for bread. In the
evening, the weather became cloudy and cold, and when night came it was
so dark that I found difficulty in keeping in the road, at some points
where it made short angles. Before midnight it began to snow, and at
break of day the snow lay more than a foot deep. This compelled me to
seek winter quarters; and fortunately, at about half a mile from the
road, I found, on the side of a steep hill, a shelving rock that formed
a dry covert, with a southern prospect.

Under this rock I took refuge, and kindling a fire of dry sticks,
considered myself happy to possess a few pounds of my roasted pork, and
more than half a gallon of corn that I carried in my pockets. The snow
continued falling, until it was full two feet deep around me, and the
danger of exposing myself to discovery by my tracks in the snow,
compelled me to keep close to my hiding place until the third day, when
I ventured to go back to the road, which I found broken by the passage
of numerous wagons, sleds and horses, and so much beaten that I could
travel it with ease at night, the snow affording good light.

Accordingly at night I again advanced on my way, which indeed I was
obliged to do, for my corn was quite gone, and not more than a pound of
my pork remained to me. I traveled hard through the night, and after
the morning star rose; came to a river; which I think must have been the
Yadkin. It appeared to be about two hundred yards wide, and the water
ran with great rapidity in it.

Waiting until the eastern horizon was tinged with the first rays of the
morning light, I entered the river at the ford, and waded until the
water was nearly three feet deep, when it felt as if it was cutting the
flesh from the bones of my limbs, and a large cake of ice floating
downward, forced me off my balance, and I was near falling. My courage
failed me, and I returned to the shore; but found the pain that already
tormented me greatly increased, when I was out of the water, and exposed
to the action of the open air. Returning to the river, I plunged into
the current to relieve me from the pinching frost, that gnawed every
part of my skin that had become wet; and rushing forward as fast as the
weight of the water, that pressed me downward, would permit, was soon up
to my chin in melted ice, when rising to the surface, I exerted my
utmost strength and skill to gain the opposite shore by swimming in the
shortest space of time. At every stroke of my arms and legs, they were
cut and bruised by cakes of solid ice, or weighed down by floating
masses of congealed snow.

It is impossible for human life to be long sustained in such an element
as that which encompassed me; and I had not been afloat five minutes
before I felt chilled in all my members, and in less than the double of
that time, my limbs felt numbed, and my hands became stiff, and almost
powerless.

When at the distance of thirty feet from the shore, my body was struck
by a violent current, produced by a projecting rock above me, and driven
with resistless violence down the stream. Wholly unable to contend with
the fury of the waves, and penetrated by the coldness of death, in my
inmost vitals, I gave myself up for lost, and was commending my soul to
God, whom I expected to be my immediate Judge, when I perceived the long
hanging branch of a large tree, sweeping to and fro, and undulating
backward and forward, as its extremities were washed by the surging
current of the river, just below me. In a moment I was in contact with
the tree, and making the effort of despair, seized one of its limbs.
Bowed down by the weight of my body, the branch yielded to the power of
the water, which rushing against my person, swept me round like the
quadrant of a circle, and dashed me against the shore, where clinging to
some roots that grew near the bank, the limb of the tree left me, and
springing with elastic force to its former position, again dipped its
slender branches in the mad stream.

Crawling out of the water, and being once more on dry land, I found my
circumstances little less desperate than when I was struggling with the
floating ice.--The morning was frosty, and icicles hung in long pendant
groups from the trees along the shore of the river and the hoar frost
glistened in sparkling radiance upon the polished surface of the smooth
snow, as it whitened all the plain before me, and spread its chill but
beautiful covering through the woods.

There were three alternatives before me, one of which I knew must
quickly be adopted. The one was to obtain a fire, by which I could dry
and warm my stiffened limbs; the second was to die, without the fire;
the third, to go to the first house, if I could reach one, and surrender
myself as a runaway slave.

Staggering, rather than walking forward, until I gained the cover of a
wood, at a short distance from the river, I turned into it, and found
that a field bordered the wood within less than twenty rods of the road.
Within a few yards of this fence I stopped, and taking out my fire
apparatus, to my unspeakable joy found them dry and in perfect safety.
With the aid of my punk, and some dry moss gathered from the fence, a
small flame was obtained, to which dry leaves being added from the
boughs of a white oak tree, that had fallen before the frost of the last
autumn had commenced, I soon had fire of sufficient intensity to consume
dry wood, with which I supplied it, partly from the fence and partly
from the branches of the fallen tree. Having raked away the snow from
about the fire, by the time the sun was up, my frozen clothes were
smoking before the coals--warming first one side and then the other--I
felt the glow of returning life once more invigorating my blood, and
giving animation to my frozen limbs.

The public road was near me on one hand, and an enclosed field was
before me on the other, but in my present condition it was impossible
for me to leave this place to-day, without danger of perishing in the
woods, or of being arrested on the road.

As evening came on, the air became much colder than it was in the
forenoon, and after night the wind rose high and blew from the
northwest, with intense keenness. My limbs were yet stiff from the
effects of my morning adventure, and to complete my distress I was
totally without provisions, having left a few ears of corn, that I had
in my pocket, on the other side of the river.

Leaving my fire in the night, and advancing into the field near me, I
discovered a house at some distance, and as there was no light, or sign
of fire about it, I determined to reconnoitre the premises, which turned
out to be a small barn, standing alone, with no other inhabitants about
it than a few cattle and a flock of sheep. After much trouble, I
succeeded in entering the barn by starting the nails that confined one
of the boards at the corner. Entering the house I found it nearly
filled with corn, in the husks, and some from which the husks had been
removed, was lying in a heap in one corner.

Into these husks I crawled, and covering myself deeply under them, soon
became warm, and fell into a profound sleep, from which I was awakened
by the noise of people walking about in the barn and talking of the
cattle and sheep, which it appeared they had come to feed, for they soon
commenced working in the corn husks with which I was covered, and
throwing them out to the cattle. I expected at every moment that they
would uncover me; but fortunately before they saw me, they ceased their
operations, and went to work, some husking corn, and throwing the husks
on the pile over me, while others were employed in loading the husked
corn into carts, as I learned by their conversation, and hauling it away
to the house. The people continued working in the barn all day, and in
the evening gave more husks to the cattle and went home.

Waiting two or three hours after my visiters were gone, I rose from the
pile of husks, and filling my pockets with ears of corn, issued from the
barn at the same place by which I had entered it, and returned to the
woods, where I kindled a fire in a pine thicket, and parched more than
half a gallon of corn. Before day I returned to the barn, and again
secreted myself in the corn husks. In the morning the people again
returned to their work, and husked corn until the evening. At night I
again repaired to the woods, and parched more corn. In this manner I
passed more than a month, lying in the barn all day, and going to the
woods at night; but at length the corn was all husked, and I watched
daily the progress that was made in feeding the cattle with the husks,
knowing that I must quit my winter retreat before the husks were
exhausted. Before the husked corn was removed from the barn, I had
conveyed several bushels of the ears into the husks, near my bed, and
concealed them for my winter's stock.

Whilst I lay in this barn there were frequent and great changes of
weather. The snow that covered the earth to the depth of two feet when I
came here, did not remain more than ten days, and was succeeded by more
than a week of warm rainy weather, which was in turn succeeded by
several days of dry weather, with cold high winds from the North. The
month of February was cloudy and damp, with several squalls of snow and
frequent rains. About the first of March, the atmosphere became clear
and dry, and the winds boisterous from the West.

On the third of this month, having filled my little bag and all my
pockets with parched corn, I quitted my winter quarters about ten
o'clock at night, and again proceeded on my way to the North, leaving a
large heap of corn husks still lying in the corner of the barn.

On leaving this place, I again pursued the road that had led me to it
for several nights; crossing many small streams in my way, all of which
I was able to pass without swimming, though several of them were so deep
that they wet me as high as my arm-pits.--This road led nearly
northeast, and was the only road that I had fallen in with, since I left
Georgia, that had maintained that direction for so great a distance.
Nothing extraordinary befell me until the twelfth of March, when
venturing to turn out earlier than usual in the evening, and proceeding
along the road, I found that my way led me down a hill, along the side
of which the road had been cut into the earth ten or twelve feet in
depth, having steep banks on each side, which were now so damp and
slippery that it was impossible for a man to ascend either the one or
the other.

Whilst in this narrow place, I heard the sound of horses proceeding up
the hill to meet me. Stopping to listen, in a moment almost two horsemen
were close before me, trotting up the road. To escape on either hand was
impossible, and to retreat backwards would have exposed me to certain
destruction. Only one means of salvation was left, and I embraced it.
Near the place where I stood, was a deep gully cut in one side of the
road, by the water which had run down here in time of rains. Into this
gully I threw myself, and lying down close to the ground, the horsemen
rode almost over me, and passed on. When they were gone I arose, and
descending the hill, found a river before me.

In crossing this stream I was compelled to swim at least two hundred
yards; and found the cold so oppressive, after coming out of the water,
that I was forced to stop at the first thick woods that I could find and
make a fire to dry myself. I did not move again until the next night;
and on the fourth night after this, came to a great river, which I
suppose was the Roanoke. I was obliged to swim this stream, and was
carried a great way down by the rapidity of the current. It must have
been more than an hour from the time that I entered the water, until I
reached the opposite shore, and as the rivers were yet very cold, I
suffered greatly at this place.

Judging by the aspect of the country, I believed myself to be at this
time in Virginia; and was now reduced to the utmost extremity for want
of provisions. The corn that I had parched at the barn and brought with
me, was nearly exhausted, and no more was to be obtained in the fields
at this season of the year. For three or four days I allowed myself only
my two hands full of parched corn per day; and after this I traveled
three days without tasting food of any kind; but being nearly exhausted
with hunger, I one night entered an old stack-yard, hoping that I might
fall in with pigs, or poultry of some kind. I found, instead of these, a
stack of oats, which had not been threshed. From this stack I took as
much oats in the sheaf as I could carry, and going on a few miles,
stopped in a pine forest, made a large fire, and parched at least half a
gallon of oats, after rubbing the grain from the straw. After the grain
was parched, I again rubbed it in my hands, to separate it from the
husks, and spent the night in feasting on parched oats.

The weather was now becoming quite warm, though the water was cold in
the rivers; and I perceived the farmers had everywhere ploughed their
fields, preparatory to planting corn. Every night I saw people burning
brush in the new grounds that they were clearing of the wood and brush;
and when the day came, in the morning after I obtained the oats, I
perceived people planting corn in a field about half a mile from my
fire. According to my computation of time, it was on the night of the
last day of March that I obtained the oats; and the appearance of the
country satisfied me that I had not lost many days in my reckoning.

I lay in this pine-wood two days, for the purpose of recruiting my
strength, after my long fast; and when I again resumed my journey,
determined to seek some large road leading towards the North, and follow
it in future; the one that I had been pursuing of late, not appearing to
be a principal high-way of the country. For this purpose, striking off
across the fields, in an easterly direction, I traveled a few hours, and
was fortunate enough to come to a great road, which was manifestly much
traveled, leading towards the northeast.

My bag was now replenished with more than a gallon of parched oats, and
I had yet one pair of moccasins made of raw hide; but my shirt was
totally gone, and my last pair of trowsers was now in actual service. A
tolerable waistcoat still remained to me, and my great coat, though full
of honorable scars, was yet capable of much service.

Having resolved to pursue the road I was now in, it was necessary again
to resort to the utmost degree of caution to prevent surprise. Traveling
only after it was dark, and taking care to stop before the appearance of
day, my progress was not rapid, but my safety was preserved.

The acquisition of food had now become difficult, and when my oats began
to fail, I resorted to the dangerous expedient of attacking the
corn-crib of a planter that was near the road. The house was built of
round logs, and was covered with boards. One of these boards I
succeeded in removing, on the side of the crib opposite from the
dwelling, and by thrusting my arm downwards, was able to reach the
corn--of which I took as much as filled my bag, the pockets of my great
coat, and a large handkerchief that I had preserved through all the
vicissitudes of my journey. This opportune supply of corn furnished me
with food more than a week, and before it was consumed I reached the
Appomattox river, which I crossed in a canoe that I found tied at the
shore, a few miles above the town of Petersburg. Having approached
Petersburg in the night, I was afraid to attempt to pass through it,
lest the patrol should fall in with me; and turning to the left through
the country, reached the river, and crossed in safety.

The great road leading to Richmond is so distinguishingly marked above
the other ways in this part of Virginia, that there was no difficulty in
following it, and on the third night after passing Petersburg, I
obtained a sight of the capitol of Virginia. It was only a little after
midnight, when the city presented itself to my sight; but here, as well
as at Petersburg, I was afraid to attempt to go through the town, under
cover of the darkness, because of the patrol. Turning, therefore, back
into a forest, about two miles from the small town on the south-side of
the river, I lay there until after twelve o'clock in the day, when
loosening the package from my back, and taking it in my hand in the
form of a bundle, I advanced into the village, as if I had only come
from some plantation in the neighborhood.

This was on Sunday, I believe, though according to my computation it was
Monday; but it must have been Sunday, for the village was quiet, and in
passing it I only saw two or three persons, whom I passed as if I had
not seen them. No one spoke to me, and I gained the bridge in safety,
and crossed it without attracting the least attention.

Entering the city of Richmond, I kept along the principal street,
walking at a slow pace, and turning my head from side to side, as if
much attracted by the objects around me. Few persons were in the street,
and I was careful to appear more attentive to the houses than to the
people. At the upper end of the city I saw a great crowd of ladies and
gentlemen, who were, I believe, returning from church. Whilst these
people were passing me, I stood in the street, on the outside of the
foot pavement, with my face turned to the opposite side of the street.
They all went by without taking any notice of me; and when they were
gone, I again resumed my leisure walk along the pavement, and reached
the utmost limit of the town without being accosted by any one. As soon
as I was clear of the city I quickened my pace, assumed the air of a
man in great haste, sometimes actually ran, and in less than an hour was
safely lodged in the thickest part of the woods that lay on the North of
Richmond, and full four miles from the river. This was the boldest
exploit that I had performed since leaving my mistress, except the visit
I paid to the gentleman in Georgia.

My corn was now failing, but as I had once entered a crib secretly, I
felt but little apprehension on account of future supplies. After this
time I never wanted corn, and did not again suffer by hunger, until I
reached the place of my nativity.

After leaving Richmond, I again kept along the great road by which I had
traveled on my way South, taking great care not to expose my person
unnecessarily. For several nights I saw no white people on the way, but
was often met by black ones, whom I avoided by turning out of the road;
but one moonlight night, five or six days after I left Richmond, a man
stepped out of the woods almost at my side, and accosting me in a
familiar manner, asked me which way I was traveling, how long I had been
on the road, and made many inquiries concerning the course of my late
journey. This man was a mulatto, and carried a heavy cane, or rather
club, in his hand. I did not like his appearance, and the idea of a
familiar conversation with any one seemed to terrify me. I determined to
watch my companion closely, and he appeared equally intent on observing
me; but at the same time that he talked with me, he was constantly
drawing closer to and following behind me. This conduct increased my
suspicion, and I began to wish to get rid of him, but could not at the
moment imagine how I should effect my purpose. To avoid him, I crossed
the road several times; but still he followed me closely. The moon,
which shone brightly upon our backs, cast his shadow far before me, and
enabled me to perceive his motions with the utmost accuracy, without
turning my head towards him. He carried his club under his left arm, and
at length raised his right hand gently, took the stick by the end, and
drawing it slowly over his head, was in the very act of striking a blow
at me, when springing backward, and raising my own staff at the same
moment, I brought him to the ground by a stroke on his forehead; and
when I had him down, beat him over the back and sides with my weapon,
until he roared for mercy, and begged me not to kill him. I left him in
no condition to pursue me, and hastened on my way, resolved to get as
far from him before day as my legs would carry me.

This man was undoubtedly one of those wretches who are employed by white
men to kidnap and betray such unfortunate people of color as may chance
to fall into their hands but for once the deceiver was deceived, and he
who intended to make prey of me, had well nigh fallen a sacrifice
himself.

The same night I crossed the Pammunky river, near the village of Hanover
by swimming, and secreted myself before day in a dense cedar thicket.
The next night, after I had traveled several miles, in ascending a hill
I saw the head of a man rise on the opposite side, without having heard
any noise. I instantly ran into the woods, and concealed myself behind a
large tree. The traveler was on horseback, and the road being sandy, and
his horse moving only at a walk, I had not heard his approach until I
saw him. He also saw me; for when he came opposite the place where I
stood, he stopped his horse in the road, and desired me to tell him how
far it was to some place, the name of which I have forgotten. As I made
no answer, he again repeated the inquiry; and then said, I need not be
afraid to speak, as he did not wish to hurt me; but no answer being
given him, he at last said I might as well speak, and rode on.

Before day I reached the Matapony river, and crossed it by wading; but
knowing that I was not far from Maryland, I fell into a great
indiscretion, and forgot the wariness and caution that had enabled me to
overcome obstacles apparently insurmountable. Anxious to get forward, I
neglected to conceal myself before day; but traveled until daybreak
before I sought a place of concealment, and unfortunately, when I
looked for a hiding place, none was at hand. This compelled me to keep
on the road, until gray twilight, for the purpose of reaching a wood
that was in view before me; but to gain this wood I was obliged to pass
a house that stood at the road side, and when only about fifty yards
beyond the house, a white man opened the door, and seeing me in the
road, called to me to stop. As this order was not obeyed, he set his dog
upon me. The dog was quickly vanquished by my stick, and setting off to
run at full speed, I at the same moment heard the report of a gun, and
received its contents in my legs, chiefly about, and in my hams. I fell
on the road, and was soon surrounded by several persons, who it appeared
were a party of patrollers, who had gathered together in this house.
They ordered me to cross my hands, which order not being immediately
obeyed, they beat me with sticks and stones until I was almost
senseless, and entirely unable to make resistance.--They then bound me
with cords, and dragged me by the feet back to the house, and threw me
into the kitchen, like a dead dog. One of my eyes was almost beaten out,
and the blood was running from my mouth, nose and ears; but in this
condition they refused to wash the blood from my face, or even to give
me a drink of water.

In a short time a justice of the peace arrived, and when he looked at
me, ordered me to be unbound, and to have water to wash myself, and also
some bread to eat. This man's heart appeared not to be altogether void
of sensibility, for he reprimanded in harsh terms those who had beaten
me; told them that their conduct was brutal, and that it would have been
more humane to kill me outright, than to bruise and mangle me in the
manner they had done.

He then interrogated me as to my name, place of abode, and place of
destination, and afterwards demanded the name of my master. To all these
inquiries I made no reply, except that I was going to Maryland, where I
lived. The justice told me it was his duty under the law to send me to
jail; and I was immediately put into a cart, and carried to a small
village called Bowling Green, which I reached before ten o'clock.

There I was locked up in the jail, and a doctor came to examine my legs,
and extract the shot from my wounds. In the course of the operation he
took out thirty-four buck shot, and after dressing my legs left me to my
own reflections. No fever followed in the train of my disasters, which I
attributed to the reduced state of my blood, by long fasting, and the
fatigues I had undergone.

In the afternoon, the jailer came to see me, and brought my daily
allowance of provisions, and a jug of water. The provisions consisted
of more than a pound of corn-bread and some boiled bacon. As my appetite
was good, I immediately devoured more than two-thirds of this food, but
reserved the rest for supper.

For several days I was not able to stand, and in this period found great
difficulty in performing the ordinary offices of life for myself, no one
coming to give me any aid; but I did not suffer for want of food, the
daily allowance of the jailer being quite sufficient to appease the
cravings of hunger. After I grew better, and was able to walk in the
jail, the jailer frequently called to see me, and endeavored to prevail
on me to tell where I came from; but in this undertaking he was no more
successful than the justice had been in the same business.

I remained in the jail more than a month, and in this time became quite
fat and strong, but saw no way by which I could escape. The jail was of
brick, the floors were of solid oak boards, and the door, of the same
material, was secured by iron bolts, let into its posts, and connected
together by a strong band of iron, reaching from the one to the other.

Every thing appeared sound and strong, and to add to my security, my
feet were chained together, from the time my wounds were healed. This
chain I acquired the knowledge of removing from my feet, by working out
of its socket a small iron pin that secured the bolt that held the chain
round one of my legs.

The jailer came to see me with great regularity, every morning and
evening, but remained only a few minutes when he came, leaving me
entirely alone at all other times.

When I had been in prison thirty-nine days, and had quite recovered from
the wounds that I had received, the jailer was late in coming to me with
my breakfast, and going to the door I began to beat against it with my
fist, for the purpose of making a noise. After beating some time against
the door I happened, by mere accident, to strike my fist against one of
the posts, which, to my surprise, I discovered by its sound, to be a
mere hollow shell, encrusted with a thin coat of sound timber, and as I
struck it, the rotten wood crumbled to pieces within. On a more careful
examination of this post, I became satisfied that I could easily split
it to pieces, by the aid of the iron bolt that confined my feet. The
jailer came with my breakfast, and reprimanded me for making a noise.
This day appeared as long to me, as a week had done heretofore; but
night came at length, and as soon as the room in which I was confined,
had become quite dark, I disentangled myself from the irons with which I
was bound, and with the aid of the long bolt, easily wrenched from its
place the large staple that held one end of the bar, that lay across
the door. The hasps that held the lock in its place, were drawn away
almost without force, and the door swung open of its own weight.

I now walked out into the jail-yard, and found that all was quiet, and
that only a few lights were burning in the village windows. At first I
walked slowly along the road, but soon quickened my pace, and ran along
the high-way, until I was more than a mile from the jail, then taking to
the woods, I traveled all night, in a northern direction. At the
approach of day I concealed myself in a cedar thicket, where I lay until
the next evening, without any thing to eat.

On the second night after my escape, I crossed the Potomac, at Hoe's
ferry, in a small boat that I found tied at the side of the ferry flat;
and on the night following crossed the Patuxent, in a canoe, which I
found chained at the shore.

About one o'clock in the morning, I came to the door of my wife's cabin,
and stood there, I believe, more than five minutes, before I could
summon sufficient fortitude to knock. I at length rapped lightly on the
door, and was immediately asked, in the well-known voice of my wife,
"Who is there?"--I replied "Charles." She then came to the door, and
opening it slowly, said, "Who is this that speaks so much like my
husband?" I then rushed into the cabin and made myself known to her,
but it was some time before I could convince her, that I was really her
husband, returned from Georgia. The children were then called up, but
they had forgotten me.

When I attempted to take them in my arms, they fled from me, and took
refuge under the bed of their mother. My eldest boy, who was four years
old when I was carried away, still retained some recollections of once
having had a father, but could not believe that I was that father. My
wife, who at first was overcome by astonishment at seeing me again in
her cabin, and was incapable of giving credit to the fidelity of her own
vision, after I had been in the house a few minutes, seemed to awake
from a dream; and gathering all three of her children in her arms,
thrust them into my lap, as I sat in the corner, clapped her hands,
laughed, and cried by turns; and in her ecstasy forgot to give me any
supper, until I at length told her that I was hungry. Before I entered
the house I felt as if I could eat anything in the shape of food; but
now that I attempted to eat, my appetite had fled, and I sat up all
night with my wife and children.

When on my journey I thought of nothing but getting home, and never
reflected, that when at home, I might still be in danger; but now that
my toils were ended, I began to consider with myself how I could appear
in safety in Calvert county, where everybody must know that I was a
runaway slave. With my heart thrilling with joy, when I looked upon my
wife and children, who had not hoped ever to behold me again; yet
fearful of the coming of daylight, which must expose me to be arrested
as a fugitive slave, I passed the night between the happiness of the
present and the dread of the future. In all the toils, dangers, and
sufferings of my long journey, my courage had never forsaken me. The
hope of again seeing my wife and little ones, had borne me triumphantly
through perils, that even now I reflect upon as upon some extravagant
dream; but when I found myself at rest under the roof of my wife, the
object of my labors attained, and no motive to arouse my energies, or
give them the least impulse, that firmness of resolution which had so
long sustained me, suddenly vanished from my bosom; and I passed the
night, with my children around me, oppressed by a melancholy foreboding
of my future destiny. The idea that I was utterly unable to afford
protection and safeguard to my own family, and was myself even more
helpless than they, tormented my bosom with alternate throbs of
affection and fear, until the dawn broke in the East, and summoned me to
decide upon my future conduct.

In the morning I went to the great house and showed myself to my master
and mistress. They gave me a good breakfast, and advised me at first to
conceal myself, but afterwards to work in the neighborhood for wages.
For eight years, I lived in this region of country and experienced a
variety of fortune. At last I had saved near $400, and bought near
Baltimore twelve acres of land, a yoke of oxen, and two cows, and
attended the Baltimore market. I had the great misfortune to lose my
wife. I married in two years, and of my second wife had four children.
Ten years of happiness and comparative ease I enjoyed on my little farm,
and I had settled down into contentment, little fearing any more
trouble. But a sad fate was before me.



CHAPTER XIX.


In the month of June, 18--, as I was ploughing in my lot, three
gentlemen rode up to my fence, and alighting from their horses, all came
over the fence and approached me, when one of them told me he was the
sheriff, and had a writ in his pocket, which commanded him to take me to
Baltimore. I was not conscious of having done any thing injurious to any
one; but yet felt a distrust of these men, who were all strangers to me.
I told them I would go with them, if they would permit me to turn my
oxen loose from the plough; but it was my intention to seek an
opportunity of escaping to the house of a gentleman, who lived about a
mile from me. This purpose I was not able to effect, for whilst I was
taking the yoke from the oxen, one of the gentlemen came behind me, and
knocked me down with a heavy whip, that he carried in his hand.

When I recovered from the stunning effects of this blow, I found myself
bound with my hands behind me, and strong cords closely wrapped about
my arms. In this condition I was forced to set out immediately, for
Baltimore, without speaking to my wife, or even entering my door. I
expected that, on arriving at Baltimore, I should be taken before a
judge for the purpose of being tried, but in this I was deceived. They
led me to the city jail, and there shut me up, with several other black
people, both men and women, who told me that they had lately been
purchased by a trader from Georgia.

I now saw the extent of my misfortune, but could not learn who the
persons were, who had seized me. In the evening, however, one of the
gentlemen, who had brought me from home, came into the jail with the
jailer, and asked me if I knew him. On being answered in the negative,
he told me that he knew me very well; and asked me if I did not
recollect the time when he and his brother had whipped me, before my
master's door, in Georgia.

I now recognized the features of the younger of the two brothers of my
mistress; but this man was so changed in his appearance, from the time
when I had last seen him, that if he had not declared himself, I should
never have known him. When I left Georgia, he was not more than
twenty-one or two years of age, and had black, bushy hair. His hair was
now thin and gray, and all his features were changed.

After lying in jail a little more than two weeks, strongly ironed, my
fellow prisoners and I were one day chained together, handcuffed in
pairs, and in this way driven about ten miles out of Baltimore, where we
remained all night.

On the evening of the second day, we halted at Bladensburg.

On the next morning, we marched through Washington, and as we passed in
front of the President's house, I saw an old gentleman walking in the
grounds, near the gate. This man I was told was the President of the
United States.

Within four weeks after we left Washington, I was in Milledgeville in
Georgia, near which the man who had kidnapped me resided. He took me
home with him, and set me to work on his plantation; but I had now
enjoyed liberty too long to submit quietly to the endurance of slavery.
I had no sooner come here, than I began to devise ways of escaping again
from the hands of my tyrants, and of making my way to the northern
States.

The month of August was now approaching, which is a favorable season of
the year to travel, on account of the abundance of food that is to be
found in the corn-fields and orchards; but I remembered the dreadful
sufferings that I had endured in my former journey from the South, and
determined, if possible, to devise some scheme of getting away, that
would not subject me to such hardships.

After several weeks of consideration, I resolved to run away, go to some
of the seaports, and endeavor to get a passage on board a vessel, bound
to a northern city. With this view, I assumed the appearance of
resignation and composure, under the new aspect of my fortune; and even
went so far as to tell my new master that I lived more comfortably with
him, in his cotton fields, than I had formerly done, on my own small
farm in Maryland; though I believe my master did me the justice to give
no credit to my assertions on this subject.

From the moment I discovered in Maryland, that I had fallen into the
hands of the brother of my former mistress, I gave up all hope of
contesting his right to arrest me, with success, at law, as I supposed
he had come with authority to reclaim me as the property of his sister;
but after I had returned to Georgia, and had been at work some weeks on
the plantation of my new master, I learned that he now claimed me as his
own slave, and that he had reported he had purchased me in Baltimore. It
was now clear to me that this man, having by some means learned the
place of my residence, in Maryland, had kidnapped and now held me as his
slave, without the color of legal right; but complaint on my part was
useless, and resistance vain.

I was again reduced to the condition of a common field slave, on a
cotton plantation in Georgia, and compelled to subsist on the very
scanty and coarse food allowed to the southern slave. I had been absent
from Georgia almost twenty years, and in that period great changes had
doubtlessly taken place in the face of the country, as well as in the
condition of human society.

I had never been in Milledgeville until I was brought there by the man
who had kidnapped me in Maryland, and I was now a slave among entire
strangers, and had no friend to give me the consolation of kind words,
such as I had formerly received from my master in Morgan county. The
plantation on which I was now a slave, had formerly belonged to the
father of my mistress; and some of my fellow slaves had been well
acquainted with her in her youth. From these people I learned, that
after the death of my master, and my flight from Georgia, my mistress
had become the wife of a second husband, who had removed with her to the
State of Louisiana more than fifteen years ago.

After ascertaining these facts, which proved beyond all doubt that my
present master had no right whatsoever to me, in either law or justice,
I determined that before encountering the dangers and sufferings that
must necessarily attend my second flight from Georgia, I would attempt
to proclaim the protection of the laws of the country, and try to get
myself discharged from the unjust slavery in which I was now held. For
this purpose, I went to Milledgeville, one Sunday, and inquired for a
lawyer of a black man whom I met in the street. This person told me that
his master was a lawyer, and went with me to his house.

The lawyer, after talking to me some time, told me that my master was
his client, and that he therefore could not undertake my cause; but
referred me to a young gentleman, who he said would do my business for
me. Accordingly to this young man I went, and after relating my whole
story to him, he told me that he believed he could not do any thing for
me, as I had no witnesses to prove my freedom.

I rejoined, that it seemed hard that I must be compelled to prove myself
a freeman: and that it would appear more consonant to reason that my
master should prove me to be a slave. He, however, assured me that this
was not the law of Georgia, where every man of color was presumed to be
a slave until he could prove that he was free. He then told me that if I
expected him to talk to me, I must give him a fee; whereupon I gave him
all the money I had been able to procure, since my arrival in the
country, which was two dollars and seventy-five cents.

When I offered him this money, the lawyer tossed his head, and said such
a trifle was not worth accepting; but nevertheless he took it, and then
asked me if I could get some more money before the next Sunday. That if
I could get another dollar, he would issue a writ and have me brought
before the court; but if he succeeded in getting me set free, I must
engage to serve him a year. To these conditions I agreed, and signed a
paper which the lawyer wrote, and which was signed by two persons as
witnesses.

The brother of my pretended master was yet living in this neighborhood,
and the lawyer advised me to have him brought forward, as a witness, to
prove that I was not the slave of my present pretended owner.

On the Wednesday following my visit to Milledgeville, the sheriff came
to my master's plantation, and took me from the field to the house,
telling me as I walked beside him that he had a writ which commanded him
to take me to Milledgeville. Instead, however, of obeying the command of
his writ, when we arrived at the house he took a bond of my master that
he would produce me at the court-house on the next day, Friday, and then
rode away, leaving me at the mercy of my kidnapper.

Since I had been on this plantation, I had never been whipped, although
all the other slaves, of whom there were more than fifty, were
frequently flogged without any apparent cause. I had all along
attributed my exemption from the lash to the fears of my master. He
knew I had formerly run away from his sister, on account of her cruelty,
and his own savage conduct to me; and I believed that he was still
apprehensive that a repetition of his former barbarity might produce the
same effect that it had done twenty years before.

His evil passions were like fire covered with ashes, concealed, not
extinguished. He now found that I was determined to try to regain my
liberty at all events, and the sheriff was no sooner gone than the
overseer was sent for, to come from the field, and I was tied up and
whipped, with the long lashed negro whip, until I fainted, and was
carried in a state of insensibility to my lodgings in the quarter. It
was night when I recovered my understanding sufficiently to be aware of
my true situation. I now found that my wounds had been oiled, and that I
was wrapped in a piece of clean linen cloth; but for several days I was
unable to leave my bed. When Friday came, I was not taken to
Milledgeville, and afterwards learned that my master reported to the
court that I had been taken ill, and was not able to leave the house.
The judge asked no questions as to the cause of my illness.

At the end of two weeks I was taken to Milledgeville, and carried before
a judge, who first asked a few questions of my master, as to the length
of time that he had owned me, and the place where he had purchased me.
He stated in my presence that he had purchased me, with several others,
at public auction, in the city of Baltimore, and had paid five hundred
and ten dollars for me. I was not permitted to speak to the court, much
less to contradict this falsehood in the manner it deserved.

The brother of my master was then called as a witness by my lawyer, but
the witness refused to be sworn or examined, on account of his interest
in me, as his slave. In support of his refusal, he produced a bill of
sale from my master to himself, for an equal, undivided half part of the
slave ----. This bill of sale was dated several weeks previous to the
time of trial, and gave rise to an argument between the opposing lawyers
that continued until the court adjourned in the evening.

On the next morning I was again brought into court, and the judge now
delivered his opinion, which was that the witness could not be compelled
to give evidence in a cause to which he was really, though not
nominally, a party.

The court then proceeded to give judgment in the cause now before it,
and declared that the law was well settled in Georgia that every negro
was presumed to be a slave, until he proved his freedom by the clearest
evidence. That where a negro was found in the custody or keeping of a
white man, the law declared that white man to be his master, without any
evidence on the subject. But the case before the court was exceedingly
plain and free from all doubt or difficulty. Here the master has brought
this slave into the State of Georgia, as his property, has held him as a
slave ever since, and still holds him as a slave. The title of the
master in this case is the best title that a man can have to any
property; and the order of the court is, that the slave ---- be returned
to the custody of his master.

I was immediately ordered to return home, and from this time until I
left the plantation my life was a continual torment to me. The overseer
often came up to me in the field, and gave me several lashes with his
long whip over my naked back, through mere wantonness; and I was often
compelled, after I had done my day's work in the field, to cut wood, or
perform some other labor at the house, until long after dark. My
sufferings were too great to be borne long by any human creature; and to
a man who had once tasted the sweets of liberty, they were doubly
tormenting.

There was nothing in the form of danger that could intimidate me, if the
road on which I had to encounter it led me to freedom. That season of
the year most favorable to my escape from bondage, had at length
arrived. The corn in the fields was so far grown as to be fit for
roasting; the peaches were beginning to ripen, and the sweet potatoes
were large enough to be eaten; but notwithstanding all this; the
difficulties that surrounded me were greater than can easily be imagined
by any one who has never been a slave in the lower country of Georgia.

In the first place I was almost naked, having no other clothes than a
ragged shirt of tow cloth, and a pair of old trowsers of the same
material, with an old woollen jacket that I had brought with me from
home. In addition to this, I was closely watched every evening, until I
had finished the labor assigned me, and then I was locked up in a small
cabin by myself for the night.

This cabin was really a prison, and had been built for the purpose of
confining such of the slaves of this estate as were tried in the
evening, and sentenced to be whipped in the morning. It was built of
strong oak logs, hewn square, and dovetailed together at the corners. It
had no window in it; but as the logs did not fit very close together,
there was never any want of air in this jail, in which I had been locked
up every night since my trial before the court.

On Sundays I was permitted to go to work in the fields, with the other
people who worked on that day, if I chose so to do; but at this time I
was put under the charge of an old African negro, who was instructed to
give immediate information if I attempted to leave the field. To escape
on Sunday was impossible, and there seemed to be no hope of getting out
of my sleeping room, the floor of which was made of strong pine plank.

Fortune at length did for me that which I had not been able to
accomplish, by the greatest efforts, for myself. The lock that was on
the door of my nightly prison was a large stock lock, and had been
clumsily fitted on the door, so that the end of the lock pressed against
the door-case, and made it difficult to shut the door even in dry
weather. When the weather was damp, and the wood was swollen with
moisture, it was not easy to close the door at all.

Late in the month of September the weather became cloudy, and much rain
fell. The clouds continued to obscure the heavens for four or five days.
One evening, when I was ordered to my house as it was called, the
overseer followed me without a light, although it was very dark. When I
was in the house, he pushed the door after me with all his strength. The
violence of the effort caused the door to pass within the case at the
top, for one or two feet, and this held it so fast that he could not
again pull it open.

Supposing, in the extreme darkness, that the door was shut, he turned
the key; and the bolt of the lock passing on the outside of the staple
intended to receive it, completely deceived him. He then withdrew the
key, and went away. Soon after he was gone, I went to the door, and
feeling with my hands, ascertained that it was not shut. An opportunity
now presented itself for me to escape from my prison-house, with a
prospect of being able to be so far from my master's residence before
morning, that none could soon overtake me, even should the course of my
flight be ascertained. Waiting quietly, until every one about the
quarter had ceased to be heard, I applied one of my feet to the door,
and giving it a strong push, forced it open.

The world was now all before me, but the darkness was so profound, as to
obscure from my vision the largest objects, even a house, at the
distance of a few yards. But dark as it was, necessity compelled me to
leave the plantation without delay, and knowing only the great road that
led to Milledgeville, amongst the various roads of this country, I set
off at a brisk walk on this public highway, assured that no one could
apprehend me in so dark a night.

It was only about seven miles to Milledgeville, and when I reached that
town several lights were burning in the windows of the houses; but
keeping on directly through the village, I neither saw nor heard any
person in it, and after gaining the open country, my first care was to
find some secure place where shelter could be found for the next day;
but no appearance of thick woods was to be seen for several miles, and
two or three hours must have elapsed before a forest of sufficient
magnitude was found to answer my purposes.

It was perhaps three o'clock in the morning, when I took refuge in a
thick and dismal swamp that lay on the right hand of the road, intending
to remain here until daylight, and then look out for a secret place to
conceal myself in, during the day. Hitherto, although the night was so
extremely dark, it had not rained any, but soon after my halt in the
swamp the rain began to fall in floods, rather than in showers, which
made me as wet as if I had swam a river.

Daylight at length appeared, but brought with it very little mitigation
of my sufferings; for the swamp, in which my hiding-place was, lay in
the midst of a well-peopled country, and was surrounded on all sides by
cotton and corn fields, so close to me that the open spaces of the
cleared land could be seen from my position. It was dangerous to move,
lest some one should see me, and painful to remain without food when
hunger was consuming me.

My resting place in the swamp was within view of the road; and, soon
after sunrise, although it continued to rain fast, numerous horsemen
were seen passing along the road by the way that had led me to the
swamp. There was little doubt on my mind that these people were in
search of me, and the sequel proved that my surmises were well founded.
It rained throughout this day, and the fear of being apprehended by
those who came in pursuit of me, confined me to the swamp, until after
dark the following evening, when I ventured to leave the thicket, and
return to the high road, the bearing of which it was impossible for me
to ascertain, on account of the dense clouds that obscured the heavens.
All that could be done in my situation, was to take care not to follow
that end of the road which had led me to the swamp. Turning my back once
more upon Milledgeville, and walking at a quick pace, every effort was
made to remove myself as far as possible this night from the scene of
suffering, for which that swamp will be always memorable in my mind.

The rain had ceased to fall at the going down of the sun; and the
darkness of this second night was not so great as that of the first had
been. This circumstance was regarded by me as a happy presage of the
final success that awaited my undertaking. Events proved that I was no
prophet; for the dim light of this night was the cause of the sad
misfortune that awaited me.

In a former part of this volume, the reader is made acquainted with the
deep interest that is taken by all the planters, far and wide, around
the plantation from which a slave has escaped by running away. Twenty
years had wrought no change in favor of the fugitive; nor had the feuds
and dissentions that agitate and distract the communities of white men,
produced any relaxation in the friendship that they profess to feel, and
really do feel, for each other, on a question of so much importance to
them all.

More than twenty miles of road had been left behind me this night; and
it must have been two or three o'clock in the morning, when, as I was
passing a part of the road that led through a dense pine grove, where
the trees on either side grew close to the wheel tracks, five or six men
suddenly rushed upon me from both sides of the road, and with loud cries
of "Kill him! kill him!" accompanied with oaths and opprobrious
language, seized me, dragged me to the ground, and bound me fast with a
long cord, which was wrapped round my arms and body, so as to confine my
hands below my hips.

In this condition I was driven, or rather dragged, about two miles to a
kind of tavern or public house, that stood by the side of the road;
where my captors were joined, soon after daylight, by at least twenty of
their companions, who had been out all night waiting and watching for me
on the other roads of this part of the country. Those who had taken me
were loudly applauded by their fellows; and the whole party passed the
morning in drinking, singing songs, and playing cards at this house. At
breakfast time they gave me a large cake of corn bread and some sour
milk for breakfast.

About ten o'clock in the morning my master arrived at the tavern, in
company with two or three other gentlemen, all strangers to me. My
master, when he came into my presence, looked at me, and said, "Well,
----, you had bad luck in running away this time;" and immediately asked
aloud, what any person would give for me. One man, who was slightly
intoxicated, said he would give four hundred dollars for me. Other bids
followed, until my price was soon up to five hundred and eighty dollars,
for which I was stricken off, by my master himself, to a gentleman, who
immediately gave his note for me, and took charge of me as his
property.



CHAPTER XX.


The name of my new master was Jones, a planter, who was only a visiter
in this part of the country; his residence being about fifty miles down
the country. The next day, my new master set off with me to the place of
his residence; permitting me to walk behind him, as he rode on
horseback, and leaving me entirely unshackled. I was resolved, that as
my owner treated me with so much liberality, the trust he reposed in me
should not be broken until after we had reached his home; though the
determination of again running away, and attempting to escape from
Georgia, never abandoned me for a moment.

The country through which we passed, on our journey, was not rich. The
soil was sandy, light, and, in many places, much exhausted by excessive
tillage. The timber, in the woods where the ground was high, was almost
exclusively pine; but many swamps, and extensive tracts of low ground
intervened, in which maple, gum, and all the other trees common to such
land in the South, abounded.

No improvement in the condition of the slaves on the plantations, was
here perceptible; but it appeared to me, that there was now even a
greater want of good clothes, amongst the slaves on the various
plantations that we passed, than had existed twenty years before.
Everywhere, the overseers still kept up the same custom of walking in
the fields with the long whip, that has been elsewhere described; and
everywhere, the slaves proved, by the husky appearance of their skins,
and the dry, sunburnt aspect of their hair, that they were strangers to
animal food.

On the second day of our journey, in the evening, we arrived at the
residence of my master, about eighty miles from Savannah. The
plantation, which had now become the place of my residence, was not
large, containing only about three hundred acres of cleared land, and
having on it about thirty working slaves of all classes.

It was now the very midst of the season of picking cotton, and, at the
end of twenty years from the time of my first flight, I again had a
daily task assigned me, with the promise of half a cent a pound for all
the cotton I should pick, beyond my day's work. Picking cotton, like
every other occupation requiring active manipulation, depends more upon
sleight than strength, and I was not now able to pick so much in a day
as I was once able to do.

My master seemed to be a man ardently bent on the acquisition of wealth,
and came into the field, where we were at work, almost every day;
frequently remonstrating, in strong language, with the overseer, because
he did not get more work done.

Our rations, on this place, were a half peck of corn per week; in
addition to which, we had rather more than a peck of sweet potatoes
allowed to each person. Our provisions were distributed to us on every
Sunday morning by the overseer; but my master was generally present,
either to see that justice was done to us, or that injustice was not
done to himself.

When I had been here about a week, my master came into the field one
day, and, in passing near me, stopped and told me that I had now fallen
into good hands, as it was his practice not to whip his people much.
That he, in truth, never whipped them, nor suffered his overseer to whip
them, except in flagrant cases. That he had discovered a mode of
punishment much more mild, and, at the same time, much more effectual
than flogging; and that he governed his negroes exclusively under this
mode of discipline. He then told me, that when I came home in the
evening I must come to the house; and that he would then make me
acquainted with the principles upon which he chastised his slaves.

Going to the house in the evening, according to orders, my master
showed me a pump, set in a well in which the water rose within ten feet
of the surface of the ground. The spout of this pump was elevated at
least thirteen feet above the earth, and when the water was to be drawn
from it, the person who worked the handle ascended by a ladder to the
proper station.--The water in this well, although so near the surface,
was very cold; and the pump discharged it in a large stream. One of the
women employed in the house, had committed some offence for which she
was to be punished; and the opportunity was embraced of exhibiting to me
the effect of this novel mode of torture upon the human frame. The woman
was stripped quite naked, and tied to a post that stood just under the
stream of water, as it fell from the spout of the pump. A lad was then
ordered to ascend the ladder, and pump water upon the head and shoulders
of the victim; who had not been under the waterfall more than a minute,
before she began to cry and scream in a most lamentable manner. In a
short time, she exerted her strength, in the most convulsive throes, in
trying to escape from the post; but as the cords were strong, this was
impossible. After another minute or a little more, her cries became
weaker, and soon afterwards her head fell forward upon her breast; and
then the boy was ordered to cease pumping the water. The woman was
removed in a state of insensibility; but recovered her faculties in
about an hour. The next morning she complained of lightness of head, but
was able to go to work.

This punishment of the pump, as it is called, was never inflicted on me;
and I am only able to describe it, as it has been described to me, by
those who have endured it.

When the water first strikes the head and arms, it is not at all
painful; but in a very short time, it produces the sensation that is
felt when heavy blows are inflicted with large rods, of the size of a
man's finger. This perception becomes more and more painful, until the
skull bone and shoulder blades appear to be broken in pieces. Finally,
all the faculties become oppressed; breathing becomes more and more
difficult; until the eye-sight becomes dim, and animation ceases. This
punishment is in fact a temporary murder; as all the pains are endured,
that can be felt by a person who is deprived of life by being beaten
with bludgeons; but after the punishment of the pump, the sufferer is
restored to existence by being laid in a bed, and covered with warm
clothes. A giddiness of the head, and oppression of the breast, follows
this operation, for a day or two, and sometimes longer. The object of
calling me to be a witness of this new mode of torture, doubtlessly, was
to intimidate me from running away; but like medicines administered by
empirics, the spectacle had precisely the opposite effect, from that
which it was expected to produce.

After my arrival on this estate, my intention had been to defer my
elopement until the next year, before I had seen the torture inflicted
on this unfortunate woman; but from that moment my resolution was
unalterably fixed, to escape as quickly as possible. Such was my
desperation of feeling, at this time, that I deliberated seriously upon
the project of endeavoring to make my way southward, for the purpose of
joining the Indians in Florida. Fortune reserved a more agreeable fate
for me.

On the Saturday night after the woman was punished at the pump, I stole
a yard of cotton bagging from the cotton-gin house, and converted it
into a bag, by means of a coarse needle and thread that I borrowed of
one of the black women. On the next morning, when our weekly rations
were distributed to us, my portion was carefully placed in my bag, under
pretence of fears that it would be stolen from me, if it was left open
in the loft of the kitchen that I lodged in.

This day being Sunday, I did not go to the field to work as usual, on
that day, but under pretence of being unwell, remained in the kitchen
all day, to be better prepared for the toils of the following night.
After daylight had totally disappeared, taking my bag under my arm,
under pretense of going to the mill to grind my corn, I stole softly
across the cotton fields to the nearest woods, and taking an observation
of the stars, directed my course to the eastward, resolved that in no
event should anything induce me to travel a single yard on the high
road, until at least one hundred miles from this plantation.

Keeping on steadily through the whole of this night, and meeting with no
swamps, or briery thickets in my way, I have no doubt that before
daylight the plantation was more than thirty miles behind me.

Twenty years before this I had been in Savannah, and noted at that time
that great numbers of ships were in that port, taking in and loading
cotton. My plan was now to reach Savannah, in the best way I could, by
some means to be devised after my arrival in the city, to procure a
passage to some of the northern cities.

When day appeared before me, I was in a large cotton field, and before
the woods could be reached, it was gray dawn; but the forest bordering
on the field was large, and afforded me good shelter through the day,
under the cover of a large thicket of swamp laurel that lay at the
distance of a quarter of a mile from the field. It now became necessary
to kindle a fire, for all my stock of provisions, consisting of corn and
potatoes, was raw and undressed. Less fortunate now than in my former
flight, no fire apparatus was in my possession, and driven at last to
the extremity, I determined to endeavor to produce fire by rubbing two
sticks together, and spent at least two hours of incessant toil, in this
vain operation, without the least prospect of success. Abandoning this
project at length, I turned my thoughts to searching for a stone of some
kind, with which to endeavor to extract fire from an old jack-knife,
that had been my companion in Maryland for more than three years. My
labors were fruitless. No stone could be found in this swamp, and the
day was passed in anxiety and hunger, a few raw potatoes being my only
food.

Night at length came, and with it a renewal of my traveling labors.
Avoiding with the utmost care, every appearance of a road, and pursuing
my way until daylight, I must have traveled at least thirty miles this
night. Awhile before day, in crossing a field, I fortunately came upon a
bed of large pebbles, on the side of a hill. Several of these were
deposited in my bag, which enabled me when day arrived to procure fire,
with which I parched corn and roasted potatoes sufficient to subsist me
for two or three days. On the fourth night of my journey, fortune
directed me to a broad, open highway, that appeared to be much traveled.

Near the side of this road I established my quarters for the day in a
thick pine wood, for the purpose of making observations upon the people
who traveled it, and of judging thence of the part of the country to
which it led.

Soon after daylight a wagon passed along, drawn by oxen, and loaded with
bales of cotton; then followed some white men on horseback, and soon
after sunrise a whole train of wagons and carts, all loaded with bales
of cotton, passed by, following the wagon first seen by me. In the
course of the day, at least one hundred wagons and carts passed along
this road towards the south-east, all laden with cotton bales; and at
least an equal number came towards the west, either laden with casks of
various dimensions, or entirely empty. Numerous horsemen, many
carriages, and great numbers of persons on foot, also passed to and fro
on this road, in the course of the day.

All these indications satisfied me that I must be near some large town,
the seat of an extensive cotton market. The next consideration with me
was to know how far it was to this town, for which purpose I determined
to travel on the road the succeeding night.

Lying in the woods until about eleven o'clock, I rose, came to the road
and traveled it until within an hour of daylight, at which time the
country around me appeared almost wholly clear of timber; and houses
became much more numerous than they had been in the former part of my
journey.

Things continued to wear this aspect until daylight, when I stopped, and
sat down by the side of a high fence that stood beside the road. After
remaining here a short time, a wagon laden with cotton passed along,
drawn by oxen, whose driver, a black man, asked me if I was going
towards town. Being answered in the affirmative, he then asked me if I
did not wish to ride in his wagon. I told him I had been out of town all
night, and should be very thankful to him for a ride; at the same time
ascending his wagon and placing myself in a secure and easy position on
the bags of cotton.

In this manner we traveled on for about two hours, when we entered the
town of Savannah. In my situation there was no danger of any one
suspecting me to be a runaway slave; for no runaway had ever been known
to flee from the country and seek refuge in Savannah.

The man who drove the wagon passed through several of the principal
streets of the city, and stopped his team before a large warehouse,
standing on a wharf, looking into the river. Here I assisted my new
friend to unload his cotton, and when we were done he invited me to
share his breakfast with him, consisting of corn bread, roasted
potatoes, and some cold boiled rice.

Whilst we were at our breakfast, a black man came along the street, and
asked us if we knew where he could hire a hand, to help him to work a
day or two. I at once replied that my master had sent me to town to hire
myself out for a few weeks, and that I was ready to go with him
immediately. The joy I felt at finding employment so overcame me, that
all thought of my wages was forgotten. Bidding farewell to the man who
had given me my breakfast, and thanking him in my heart for his
kindness, I followed my new employer, who informed me that he had
engaged to remove a thousand bales of cotton from a large warehouse, to
the end of a wharf at which a ship lay, that was taking in the cotton as
a load.

This man was a slave, but hired his time of his master at two hundred
and fifty dollars a year, which he said he paid in monthly instalments.
He did what he called job work, which consisted of undertaking jobs, and
hiring men to work under him, if the job was too great to be performed
by himself. In the present instance he had seven or eight black men,
beside me, all hired to help him to remove the cotton in wheel-barrows,
and lay it near the end of the wharf, when it was taken up by sailors
and carried on board the ship that was receiving it.

We continued working hard all day; and amongst the crew of the ship was
a black man, with whom I resolved to become acquainted by some means.
Accordingly at night after we had quit our work, I went to the end of
the wharf against which the ship lay moored, and stood there a long
time, waiting for the black sailor to make his appearance on deck. At
length my desires were gratified. He came upon the deck, and sat down
near the main-mast, with a pipe in his mouth, which he was smoking with
great apparent pleasure. After a few minutes, I spoke to him, for he had
not yet seen me as it appeared, and when he heard my voice, he rose up
and came to the side of the ship near where I stood. We entered into
conversation together, in the course of which he informed me that his
home was in New-York; that he had a wife and several children there, but
that he followed the sea for a livelihood, and knew no other mode of
life. He also asked me where my master lived, and if Georgia had always
been the place of my residence.

I deemed this a favorable opportunity of effecting the object I had in
view, in seeking the acquaintance of this man, and told him at once that
by law and justice I was a free man, but had been kidnapped near
Baltimore, forcibly brought to Georgia, and sold there as a slave. That
I was now a fugitive from my master, and in search of some means of
getting back to my wife and children.

The man seemed moved by the account of my sufferings, and at the close
of my narrative, told me he could not receive me on board the ship, as
the captain had given positive orders to him, not to let any of the
negroes of Savannah come on board, lest they should steal something
belonging to the ship. He further told me that he was on watch, and
should continue on deck two hours. That he was forced to take a turn of
watching the ship every night, for two hours; but that his turn would
not come the next night until after midnight.

I now begged him to enable me to secrete myself on board the ship,
previous to the time of her sailing, so that I might be conveyed to
Philadelphia, whither the ship was bound with her load of cotton. He at
first received my application with great coldness, and said he would not
do any thing contrary to the orders of the captain; but before we
parted, he said he should be glad to assist me if he could, but that the
execution of the plan proposed by me, would be attended with great
dangers, if not ruin.

In my situation there was nothing too hazardous for me to undertake, and
I informed him that if he would let me hide myself in the hold of the
ship, amongst the bags of cotton, no one should ever know that he had
any knowledge of the fact; and that all the danger, and all the
disasters that might attend the affair, should fall exclusively on me.
He finally told me to go away, and that he would think of the matter
until the next day.

It was obvious that his heart was softened in my favor; that his
feelings of compassion almost impelled him to do an act in my behalf,
that was forbidden by his judgment, and his sense of duty to his
employers. As the houses of the city were now closed, and I was a
stranger in the place, I went to a wagon that stood in front of the
warehouse, and had been unladen of the cotton that had been brought in
it, and creeping into it, made my bed with the driver, who permitted me
to share his lodgings amongst some corn tops that he had brought to feed
his oxen.

When the morning came, I went again to the ship, and when the people
came on deck, asked them for the captain, whom I should not have known
by his dress, which was very nearly similar to that of the sailors. On
being asked if he did not wish to hire a hand, to help to load his ship,
he told me I might go to work amongst the men, if I chose, and he would
pay me what I was worth.

My object was to procure employment on board the ship, and not to get
wages; and in the course of this day I found means to enter the hold of
the ship several times, and examine it minutely. The black sailor
promised that he would not betray me, and that if I could find the means
of escaping on board the ship he would not disclose it.

At the end of three days, the ship had taken in her loading, and the
captain said in my presence that he intended to sail the day after. No
time was now to be lost, and asking the captain what he thought I had
earned, he gave me three dollars, which was certainly very liberal pay,
considering that during the whole time that I had worked for him my fare
had been the same as that of the sailors, who had as much as they could
consume of excellent food.

The sailors were now busy in trimming the ship and making ready for sea,
and observing that this work required them to spend much time in the
hold of the ship, I went to the captain and told him, that as he had
paid me good wages and treated me well, I would work with his people the
residue of this day, for my victuals and half a gallon of molasses;
which he said he would give me. My first object now, was to get into the
hold of the ship with those who were adjusting the cargo. The first time
the men below called for aid, I went to them, and being there, took care
to remain with them. Being placed at one side of the hold, for the
purpose of packing the bags close to the ship's timbers, I so managed as
to leave a space between two of the bags, large enough for a man to
creep in and conceal himself. This cavity was near the opening in the
centre of the hold, that was left to let men get down, to stow away the
last of the bags that were put in. In this small hollow retreat among
the bags of cotton, I determined to take my passage to Philadelphia, if
by any means I could succeed in stealing on board the ship at night.

When the evening came, I went to a store near the wharf, and bought two
jugs, one that held half a gallon, and the other, a large stone jug,
holding more than three gallons. When it was dark I filled my large jug
with water; purchased twenty pounds of pilot bread at a bakery, which I
tied in a large handkerchief; and taking my jugs in my hand, went on
board the ship to receive my molasses of the captain, for the labor of
the day. The captain was not on board, and a boy gave me the molasses;
but, under pretence of waiting to see the captain, I sat down between
two rows of cotton bales that were stowed on deck. The night was very
dark, and, watching a favorable opportunity, when the man on deck had
gone forward, I succeeded in placing both my jugs upon the bags of
cotton that rose in the hold, almost to the deck. In another moment I
glided down amongst the cargo, and lost no time in placing my jugs in
the place provided for them, amongst the bales of cotton, beside the
lair provided for myself.

Soon after I had taken my station for the voyage, the captain came on
board, and the boy reported to him that he had paid me off, and
dismissed me. In a short time, all was quiet on board the ship, except
the occasional tread of the man on watch. I slept none at all this
night; the anxiety that oppressed me preventing me from taking any
repose.

Before day the captain was on deck, and gave orders to the seamen to
clear the ship for sailing, and to be ready to descend the river with
the ebb tide, which was expected to flow at sunrise. I felt the motion
of the ship when she got under weigh, and thought the time long before I
heard the breakers of the ocean surging against her sides.

In the place where I lay, when the hatches were closed, total darkness
prevailed; and I had no idea of the lapse of time, or of the progress we
made, until, having at one period crept out into the open space, between
the rows of cotton bags, which I have before described, I heard a man,
who appeared from the sound of his voice to be standing on the hatch,
call out and say, "That is Cape Hatteras." I had already come out of my
covert several times into the open space; but the hatches were closed so
tightly, as to exclude all light. It appeared to me that we had already
been at sea a long time; but as darkness was unbroken with me, I could
not make any computation of periods.

Soon after this, the hatch was opened, and the light was let into the
hold. A man descended for the purpose of examining the state of the
cargo; who returned in a short time. The hatch was again closed, and
nothing of moment occurred from this time, until I heard and felt the
ship strike against some solid body. In a short time I heard much noise,
and a multitude of sounds of various kinds. All this satisfied me that
the ship was in some port; for I no longer heard the sound of the waves,
nor perceived the least motion in the ship.

At length the hatch was again opened, and the light was let in upon me.
My anxiety now was, to escape from the ship, without being discovered by
any one; to accomplish which I determined to issue from the hold as soon
as night came on, if possible. Waiting until sometime after daylight had
disappeared, I ventured to creep to the hatchway, and raise my head
above deck. Seeing no one on board, I crawled out of the hold, and
stepped on board a ship that lay alongside of that in which I had come a
passenger. Here a man seized me, and called me a thief, saying I had
come to rob his ship; and it was with much difficulty that I prevailed
upon him to let me go. He at length permitted me to go on the wharf; and
I once more felt myself a freeman.

I did not know what city I was in; but as the sailors had all told me,
at Savannah, that their ship was bound to Philadelphia, I had no doubt
of being in that city. In going along the street, a black man met me,
and I asked him if I was in Philadelphia.--This question caused the
stranger to laugh loudly; and he passed on without giving me any answer.
Soon afterwards I met an old gentleman, with drab clothes on, as I could
see by the light of the lamps. To him I propounded the same question,
that had been addressed a few moments before to the black man. This
time, however, I received a civil answer, being told that I was in
Philadelphia.

This gentleman seemed concerned for me, either because of my wretched
and ragged appearance, or because I was a stranger, and did not know
where I was. Whether for one cause or the other, I knew not; but he told
me to follow him, and led me to the house of a black man, not far off,
whom he directed to take care of me until the morning. In this house I
was kindly entertained all night, and when the morning came, the old
gentleman in drab clothes returned, and brought with him an entire suit
of clothes, not more than half worn, of which he made me a present, and
gave me money to buy a hat and some muslin for a couple of shirts. He
then turned to go away, and said, "I perceive that thee is a slave, and
has run away from thy master. Thee can now go to work for thy living;
but take care that they do not catch thee again." I then told him, that
I had been a slave, and had twice run away and escaped from the State
of Georgia. The gentleman seemed a little incredulous of that which I
told him; but when I explained to him the cause of the condition in
which he found me, he seemed to become more than ever interested in my
fate. This gentleman, whose name I shall not publish, has always been a
kind friend to me.

After remaining in Philadelphia a few weeks, I resolved to return to my
little farm in Maryland, for the purpose of selling my property for as
much as it would produce, and of bringing my wife and children to
Pennsylvania.

On arriving in Baltimore, I went to a tavern keeper, whom I had formerly
supplied with vegetables from my garden. This man appeared greatly
surprised to see me; and asked me how I had managed to escape from my
master in Georgia. I told him, that the man who had taken me to Georgia
was not my master; but had kidnapped me, and carried me away by
violence. The tavern keeper then told me, that I had better leave
Baltimore as soon as possible, and showed me a hand-bill that was stuck
up against the wall of his bar-room, in which a hundred and fifty
dollars reward was offered for my apprehension. I immediately left this
house, and fled from Baltimore that very night.

When I reached my former residence, I found a white man living in it,
whom I did not know. This man, on being questioned by me, as to the
time he had owned this place, and the manner in which he had obtained
possession, informed me, that a black man had formerly lived here; but
he was a runaway slave, and his master had come, the summer before, and
carried him off. That the wife of the former owner of the house was also
a slave; and that her master had come about six weeks before the present
time, and taken her and her children, and sold them in Baltimore to a
slave-dealer from the South.

This man also informed me, that he was not in this neighborhood at the
time the woman and her children were carried away; but that he had
received his information from a black woman, who lived half a mile off.

This black woman I was well acquainted with; she had been my neighbor,
and I knew her to be my friend. She had been set free, some years before
by a gentleman of this neighborhood, and resided under his protection,
on a part of his land, I immediately went to the house of this woman,
who could scarcely believe the evidence of her own eyes, when she saw me
enter her door. The first word's she spoke to me were, "Lucy and her
children have all been stolen away." At my request, she gave me the
following account of the manner in which my wife and children, all of
whom had been free from their birth, were seized and driven into
southern slavery.

"A few weeks," said she, "after they took you away, and before Lucy had
so far recovered from the terror produced by that event, as to remain in
her house all night with her children, without some other company, I
went one evening to stay all night with her; a kindness that I always
rendered her, if no other person came to remain with her.

"It was late when we went to bed, perhaps eleven o'clock; and after we
had been asleep some time, we were awakened by a loud rap at the door.
At first we said nothing; but upon the rap being several times repeated,
Lucy asked who was there. She was then told, in a voice that seemed by
its sound to be that of a woman, to get up and open the door; adding,
that the person without had something to tell her that she wished to
hear. Lucy, supposing the voice to be that of a black woman, the slave
of a lady living near, rose and opened the door; but, to our
astonishment, instead of a woman coming in, four or five men rushed into
the house and immediately closed the door; at which one of the men
stood, with his back against it, until the others made a light in the
fire-place, and proceeded deliberately to tie Lucy with a rope.--Search
was then made in the bed for the children; and I was found and dragged
out. This seemed to produce some consternation among the captors, whose
faces were all black, but whose hair and visages were those of white
men. A consultation was held among them, the object of which was to
determine whether I should also be taken along with Lucy and the
children, or be left behind, on account of the interest which my master
was supposed to feel for me.

"It was finally agreed, that as it would be very dangerous to carry me
off, lest my old master should cause pursuit to be made after them, they
would leave me behind, and take only Lucy and the children. One of the
number then said it would not do to leave me behind, and at liberty, as
I would immediately go and give intelligence of what I had seen; and if
the affair should be discovered by the members of the abolition society,
before they had time to get out of Maryland, they would certainly be
detected and punished for the crimes they were committing.

"It was finally resolved to tie me with cords, to one of the logs of the
house, gag me by tying a rope in my mouth, and confining it closely to
the back of my neck. They immediately confined me, and then took the
children from the bed. The oldest boy they tied to his mother, and
compelled them to go out of the house together. The three youngest
children were then taken out of bed, and carried off in the hands of the
men who had tied me to the log. I never saw nor heard any more of Lucy
or her children.

"For myself, I remained in the house, the door of which was carefully
closed and fastened after it was shut, until the second night after my
confinement, without anything to eat or drink. On the second night some
unknown persons came and cut the cords that bound me, when I returned to
my own cabin."

This intelligence almost deprived me of life; it was the most dreadful
of all the misfortunes that I had ever suffered. It was now clear that
some slave-dealer had come in my absence and seized my wife and children
as slaves, and sold them to such men as I had served in the South. They
had now passed into hopeless bondage, and were gone forever beyond my
reach. I myself was advertised as a fugitive slave, and was liable to be
arrested at each moment, and dragged back to Georgia. I rushed out of my
own house in despair and returned to Pennsylvania with a broken heart.

For the last few years, I have resided about fifty miles from
Philadelphia, where I expect to pass the evening of my life, in working
hard for my subsistence, without the least hope of ever again seeing my
wife and children;--fearful, at this day, to let my place of residence
be known, lest even yet it may be supposed, that as an article of
property, I am of sufficient value to be worth pursuing in my old age.


THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *

[Transcriber's Notes:

The transcriber made these changes to the text to correct obvious
errors:

  p.  18 burthersome --> burthensome
  p.  18 aristocrary -->aristocracy
  p.  23 vetebræ --> vertebræ
  p.  24 charnal --> charnel
  p.  91 aad --> and
  p.  98 jair --> jail
  p. 122 successsion --> succession
  p. 122 liven --> linen
  p. 152 of errands --> on errands
  p. 192 corspe --> corpse
  p. 211 disagreeble --> disagreeable
  p. 230 guitly --> quilty
  p. 244 thives  --> thrives
  p. 249 stool --> stood
  p. 252 rearch --> reach
  p. 267 pototoes --> potatoes
  p. 386 "Charles.'  --> "Charles."

End of Transcriber's Notes]





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