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Title: The Babes in the Basket - or, Daph and Her Charge
Author: Baker, Sarah S. (Sarah Schoonmaker)
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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[Illustration: THE LITTLE EXILES.

                                    Frontispiece]



  THE

  BABES IN THE BASKET;

  OR,

  Daph and her Charge.


  BY THE AUTHOR OF

  “TIMID LUCY,” “HEART AND HAND,” ETC.


  NEW YORK:
  ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH,
  683 BROADWAY.
  1859.



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1858, by

ANSON D. F. RANDOLPH,

In the Clerk’s Office of the District Court of the United States, for
the Southern District of New York.


  EDWARD O. JENKINS,
  Printer & Stereotyper,
  NO. 26 FRANKFORT STREET.



CONTENTS.


                                                       PAGE

  CHAP.    I.--A MOONLIGHT VISITOR                        5

   “      II.--THE “MARTHA JANE”                         13

   “     III.--THE WATER-LILY                            33

   “      IV.--THE RED HOUSE WITH THE BLUE SHUTTERS      53

   “       V.--DAPH’S SHOPPING                           69

   “      VI.--CLOUDS                                    81

   “     VII.--A NEW PATH                                92

   “    VIII.--NEWS                                     107

   “      IX.--A MINISTERING SPIRIT                     129

   “       X.--STRANGE PROCEEDINGS                      146

   “      XI.--ANOTHER FRIEND                           155

   “     XII.--HOME SCENES                              176

   “    XIII.--MARY RAY                                 190

   “     XIV.--THE BASKET OVERTURNED                    203

   “      XV.--THE END                                  213



THE

Babes in the Basket;

OR,

DAPH AND HER CHARGE.



I.

The Moonlight Visitor.


The evening air stole gently into a quiet room in a southern island,
more than sixty years ago.

There were no casements in the wide windows; the heavy shutters were
thrown back, and the moonlight poured, in long, unbroken streams,
across the polished, un-carpeted floor.

Within the large pleasant room, two children were sleeping in their
curtained beds, like birds in pretty cages.

Suddenly there was a cautious tread in the hall, and then a strange
figure stood silently in the moonlight. Without candle, or taper, might
have been plainly seen the short, strongly-built woman, whose black
face and gay turban formed a striking contrast to the fair children in
their loose, white night-dresses.

Who was that dark intruder, and what was her secret errand, in that
quiet room?

It was Daph, black Daph, and when you have heard more about her, you
can better judge whether she came as a friend, or an enemy, to the
sleeping children of her master.

The large mirror, bright in the moonlight, seemed to have an
irresistible attraction for the negro, and the sight of her black
face fully reflected there, made her show her white teeth in a grin
of decided approval. The pleased expression, however, disappeared
almost instantly, as she said impatiently, “Foolish darky, spendin dese
precious time, looking at your own ugly face!”

At this whispered exclamation, the children stirred uneasily. “If
I mus, I mus!” said Daph, resolutely, as she drew from her pocket
a box, containing two small pills. With the pills in her hand she
approached the bedside of the little girl, who was now half sitting up,
and looking at Daph, with the bewildered expression of one suddenly
aroused from sleep.

Daph put aside the mosquito bar, and said, coaxingly, “Take dis, Miss
Lou, quick as you can, and don’t go for waking Mass Charley, asleep da
in dat beauty bed of his.”

Daph had slipped the pill into a juicy bit of pineapple, which she
seemed to have had ready for the purpose, and the child instantly
swallowed it. With one trustful, pleasant glance from her large, blue
eyes, the fair-haired little girl sank back on her pillow, and was soon
in the sweet sleep of innocence.

As soon as Daph saw the small, slender hands lie open and relaxed,
she closed the gauze-like curtains, and stole to the cradle-bed of
the little boy. She raised his head gently on her arm, and placed in
his mouth a bit of the same juicy fruit she had given his sister,
containing another of those hidden pills, which she seemed so anxious
to administer. The child did not wake, but the sweet morsel was
pleasant to his taste, and no doubt mingled in his baby-dreams of the
joys of the pleasant world in which he had passed but little more than
a twelve month.

Daph now set to work busily to fill a huge basket, which she brought
from some place of deposit near at hand. The drawers of the bureau, and
the contents of the elegant dressing-case she thoroughly over-hauled,
making such selections as seemed to please her fancy, and being withal
somewhat dainty in her choice. Children’s clothing, of the finest and
best, formed the lowest layer in the basket; then followed a sprinkling
of rings and necklaces, interspersed with the choice furniture of the
rich dressing-case. Over all was placed a large light shawl, with its
many soft folds, and then Daph viewed the success of her packing with
much satisfaction.

Quietly and stealthily she approached the bed, where the little girl
was sleeping so soundly that she did not wake, even when Daph lifted
her in her strong arms, and laid her gently in the great basket,--the
choicest treasure of all. In another moment the plump, rosy boy was
lying with his fairy-like sister, in that strange resting-place. Daph
looked at them, as they lay side by side, and a tear rolled over her
dark cheeks, and, as it fell, sparkled in the moonlight.

The negro had taken up a white cloth, and was in the act of throwing it
over the basket, when a small book, with golden clasps, suddenly caught
her eye; rolling it quickly in a soft, rich veil, she placed it between
the children, and her task was done.

It was but the work of a moment, to fasten on the cloth-covering with
a stout string; then, with one strong effort, Daph stooped, took the
basket on her head, and went forth from the door with as stately a step
as if she wore a crown.



II.

The “Martha Jane.”


There was the bustle of departure, on board a Yankee schooner, which
some hope of gain had brought to the southern island, named in our last
chapter. The fresh and favorable breeze hurried the preparations of the
sailors, as they moved about full of glad thoughts of return to their
distant home.

The boat, which had been sent ashore for some needful supplies, was
fast approaching the vessel, and in it, among the rough tars, was
Daph, her precious basket at her side, and her bright eyes passing from
face to face, with an eager, wistful glance, that seemed trying to read
the secrets of each heart.

“Here! go-a-head, woman! I’ll hand up your chickens;” said one of the
sailors, as they reached the anchored schooner.

“I keeps my chickens to myself,” said Daph, as she placed the basket on
her head, and went up the side of the vessel, as steadily and securely
as the oldest tar of all.

As soon as she set her foot on deck, the sailors thronged around her,
offering to take her chickens from her, at her own price, and passing
their rough jokes on her stout figure and shining black face. One young
sailor, bolder than the rest, laid his hand on the basket, and had
well-nigh torn away its cover. The joke might have proved a dangerous
one for him. A blow from Daph’s strong arm sent him staggering
backwards, and in another moment, the negress had seized an oar, and
was brandishing it round her head, threatening with destruction any
one who should dare to touch her property, and declaring that with the
captain, and with him alone, would she treat for the chickens, about
which so much had been said.

“Cap’in,” said she, as a tall, firmly-knit man drew near the scene of
the disturbance; “Cap’in, it’s you, sah, I wants to speak wid, and just
you by yourself, away from these fellows, who don’t know how to treat a
’spectable darkie, who belongs to the greatest gentleman in the island.
Let me see you in your little cubby there, and if you have an heart in
you, we’ll make a bargain.”

There was something so earnest in the woman’s manner, that Captain
Jones at once consented to her odd request, smiling at himself as he
did so.

A kind of temporary cabin had been put up on deck, for the protection
of the captain from the hot rays of the southern sun. It was but a
rude frame-work, covered with sail-cloth, and yet, when the canvas door
was closed, it formed a pleasant and cool place of retirement for an
afternoon nap, or for the transaction of private business.

To that spot Daph followed the captain, her basket on her head, and her
firm step and consequential air seeming to say to the sailors,--“You
see, your captain knows better than you do how to treat such a person
as I am.”

When they were once within the little enclosure, Daph’s manner changed.
She put down her precious basket, and looking the captain directly
in the eye, she said, solemnly, “Cap’in, would you see a man struggle
for his life in de deep water, outside da, and nebber lift your hand
to save him? Would you see a house on fire, and sweet baby-children
burning in it, and just look on to see de awsome blaze, and nebber stir
to save de dear babies? Cap’in, I’se brought you a good work to do. Dey
say de great Lord blesses dem dat cares for little children, and gives
dem a good seat in heaven. Swear by de great Lord you wont tell de
dreadsome secret I’se going to tell you! Swear! time is short!”

The kind-hearted captain was impressed by the earnest manner of the
woman, and not a little curious to hear the secret that seemed to fill
her with such strong feeling; “I swear,” said he, simply, “go on!”

“De darkies in dis island,” said Daph, slowly, “de darkies are crazy
for de blood of der masters. Poor, wicked fools! Dey means to have
enough of it to-night! By to-morrow morning, de white faces on dis
coast will ebery one be white wid de death-whiteness! Old folks and
little children--dey mean to kill dem all! Dey told Daph deir secret,
as if dey thought she was all black, inside and out. De Lord forgib
Daph, dat she did not strike dem down, where dey stood shewing deir
teeth, at the thought of living in master’s house, and he cold in de
grave! Dear massa and missus are up in de country, and Daph could n’t
get word to dem, but something in here said, ‘You can save the sweet
babies, Daph;’ so I made as if I was ready to kill dose I loves de
best, and set to work a-contriving how a poor, foolish darky could save
dose sweet lambs. Your men was always glad to take Daph’s chickens, and
so de way seemed open. I’se put my darlings in de basket, and here dey
are for you to take care ob for de Lord, and he’ll reckon wid you for
it. It aint likely dey’ll have any friends to stand by em, and thank ye
for it, ’cept one poor darky, named Daph!”

In a twinkling, Daph had torn off the cover of the basket, and there
lay the sleeping children; calm and still as if on their mother’s bosom.

“Dey do breave, de sweet dears!” said Daph, as she bent tenderly over
them.

Great tears fell from the eyes of honest Captain Jones. He was an old
sailor, but to salt water in this form he had long been a stranger. He
tried to speak, but the voice that had been heard above the tumult of
many a storm, was now choked and husky. In an instant he regained his
self-command, and said, “You have found the right man, Daph! No harm
shall come to them so long as my name is Jeremiah Jones! The Martha
Jane can skim the water like a wild duck, and will be off towards a
better country before ten minutes are over!”

The words were hardly out of Captain Jones’s mouth, before he left his
tent-like cabin, and in a moment he was heard giving orders for instant
departure.

The energy that had borne Daph through her hour of trial, seemed
to desert her, now that her object was attained, and she sank down
beside the little ones, sobbing like a child. She felt herself a poor,
helpless, ignorant creature, going she knew not whither, and having
assumed a charge she knew not how to fulfil.

“De great Lord, dat missus loves, can take care of us!” thought the
humble negro; “He can give poor Daph sense to mind de babies!”

In her ignorance, she knew not how to pray, but she leaned in simple
faith upon the only source of strength, and found consolation.

In a half-hour after the arrival of Daph on board the Martha Jane, the
trim little vessel was speeding on her homeward course.

Captain Jones walked the deck in deep meditation, while from their
various positions his crew watched him with curious glances. The
sailors well knew that Daph was still on board, but no one had dared to
question the captain’s orders for putting instantly out to sea.

Jeremiah Jones was a thorough republican, when at home in good old
Massachusetts; but once on board the Martha Jane, he ruled with the
despotic power of the Emperor of all the Russias. His crew were
accustomed to submission, and murmuring was never heard among them.
They had indeed no cause for discontent, for Captain Jones was just,
kind-hearted, and high-principled, and he wisely ruled his little realm.

The good captain had acted upon a sudden impulse, for promptness was
required, but now came a time for sober reflection.

“If the darky has not told the truth;” so reasoned he; “what has
Jeremiah Jones been doing? He has kidnapped a valuable servant and
carried off two children, belonging to a man who has the power and
wealth to make said Jeremiah suffer for his madness. The thing has
been done publicly, and these fellows of mine may think it for their
interest to deliver me up, as soon as I set foot in old Boston!”

These meditations did not seem to increase the peace of mind of the
worthy New Englander. He walked the deck impatiently for a few minutes,
and then drew near the objects of his anxious thought.

He put aside the canvas curtain, and stood for a moment in the clear
moonlight, watching the sleepers. Daph had thrown her arm protectingly
round the basket, and curled about it, as if conscious of her charge,
even in the deep slumber into which she had fallen. That long, earnest
look set the perturbed mind of the captain at rest, and again the
unwonted tears filled his large, gray eyes.

A state of indecision could not last long in such a mind as that of
Captain Jones, and his usually prompt, authoritative manner suddenly
returned to him. He seized a trumpet, and gave a shout of “all hands on
deck,” which soon brought his eager crew about him.

In a few words he told Daph’s fearful story, and then throwing aside
the awning, he exposed to view the sleeping forms of the negro and the
little ones, as he said:

“I have pledged myself to be a friend to those whom God has sent me to
take care of, my men, but if there is one among you who doubts that
faithful creature’s story, or who is afraid to lend a hand to save
those sweet throats from the murdering knives of those black rascals
on shore, let him stand out here, and speak for himself. Let him take
a boat, and put out for the island, while it is yet in sight. We don’t
want him here. He shall have his wages, and bounty too, for the master
he serves is likely to give him little comfort in the long run. Speak
out, men, will you stand by me, or will you go ashore?”

Every voice joined in the hearty cheer with which the captain’s words
were received. Rough hands were stretched out towards him, and he
responded to their warm grasp with a hearty shake, as one by one the
men came up to give him this token of their determination to help him,
in the good deed he had begun.

The cheer that was so welcome to the ear of Captain Jones had quite a
different effect upon poor Daph. She sprang to her feet in wild alarm,
and placing herself in front of her darlings, stood ready to do battle
in their behalf.

The men drew back, and Captain Jones hastened to explain to Daph
the hearty expression of good-will towards her, which had risen
spontaneously from the crew of the Martha Jane.

Daph’s apprehensions were soon quieted, and, at the suggestion of
the captain, she prepared to remove her darlings from their strange
resting-place to one of the small state-rooms below.

The children did not wake while she laid them gently in the berth,
and stretched herself beside them on the floor. Daph began to be
troubled at the soundness of their long-continued sleep. She raised
herself, and crouching near them, she watched them with ever-increasing
uneasiness.

Captain Jones was on deck, giving a last look to see that all was
right, before retiring for the night, when Daph came hastily up to him,
and laying her hand beseechingly on his arm, she said:

“O! Cap’in! I’se a-feard I’se just killed my pretty ones! dey do sleep
so. Dem was such little pills, dey didn’t seem as if dey could be so
mighty powersome!”

“Pills!” said the captain, with a start; “what have you given them?”

“I jus don’t know myself,” said Daph, desperately. “Daph had de
ear-ache mighty bad last week, and missus, dear creeter--she was always
so kind--she gibs me two little pills, and she says, ‘here Daph, you
take dese when you goes to bed, and you will sleep so sound, de pain
will all go way!’ I says, ‘tank’ee missus,’ of course, and she goes up
to de house quite satisfied. Daph nebber did take no doctor’s stuff,
so I puts de little pills in my pocket, and just roasts an orange
soft, and ties it warm outside my ear, and goes to bed, and sleeps
like a lizard. Now when I thinks of putting de children in de basket,
something says to me, ‘you gib dem dose little pills, Daph, dey’ll make
’em sleep sound ’nough.’ So, I’se just did like a poor, foolish darky.”
Here Daph began to cry piteously.

Captain Jones went immediately to the cabin. The natural color and
healthy breathing of the little sleepers soon assured him that all was
right.

“Courage! old girl!” said the captain, cheerily, “turn in yourself,
and I’ll warrant you the youngsters will be none the worse for your
doctoring!”

Thus consoled, Daph lay down again beside her charge, and the silence
of deep sleep soon prevailed, not only in the little state-room, but
throughout the Martha Jane, save when the measured steps of the watch
sounded out through the stillness of the night.



III.

The Water-Lily.


At sunrise the morning after she set sail, the “Martha Jane” was
dancing over the waves, far out of sight of mainland or island.

Daph was an early riser, and in the gray dawn she bestirred herself
with her usual waking thought--“This is a busy world, and Daph must be
up and at work.” Her first glance around showed her that she was not in
the southern kitchen, which had so long been her domain, and a merry
sound near her reminded her of the new duties she had undertaken.

Charlie was sitting up in the berth, his bright black eyes sparkling
with delight at the new scene in which he found himself.

“Pretty! pretty little bed!” were the first words that met Daph’s ear.
The hearty hug with which she responded to this pleasant greeting, and
the consequent laugh of the child, roused his fair sister.

Louise started up, and looked wildly around her; “Where are we, Daffy,”
she asked, anxiously. “We’s just on board a beauty ship, a-going to see
pretty countries over the water,” said Daph, coaxingly.

“But why do we go?” urged the child, by no means satisfied.

“Cause, cause,” said Daph, “cause de great Lord tinks it best.”

The face of little Louise instantly took a sobered and submissive
expression, and she said quietly, “Well, Daffy, Lou will try to be a
good girl; where’s Dinah?”

“I’se to be nurse now, Miss Lou,” answered Daph, promptly.

“Oh! how nice! No cross Dinah any more!” exclaimed the little girl,
clapping her hands with very great delight.

Charlie thought proper to clap his hands, too, and to cry out,
boisterously, “Caky! caky!”--a cry which Daph well understood, and for
which she was amply prepared.

She drew from one of her huge pockets some cakes for the children, and
then they all three began to chat as pleasantly as if they were at
their favorite resort, under the old tree that grew in front of Daph’s
southern kitchen.

Daph found it a difficult business to dress her young master and
mistress, but Louise was a helpful little creature, and was of great
assistance in enabling the new nurse to select the suitable garments,
from the store that had been hastily thrust into the great basket.

It was an easy matter to comb Louise’s soft, straight golden hair
off her fair forehead, but it was another thing to deal with master
Charlie’s mop of short, chestnut curls. The new bond between Daph and
the sturdy boy had well nigh been broken, by the smart pulls she gave,
in the course of her unskilful efforts.

When Captain Jones came into the cabin after his usual round on deck,
in the morning, he was greeted by the sound of merry young voices,
which struck strangely on his ear.

Daph gave one peep from the state-room, to be sure who was near at
hand, and then leading out the children, she bade them “go right to
the very kindest gentleman that anybody ever had for a friend.”

Charlie put out his arms towards the honest captain, who took the
little fellow warmly to his heart.

Louise held on to Daph’s apron with one hand, and the other she put out
timidly towards her new friend.

That small, soft, gentle hand was placed in the hard, dark palm of the
captain, quietly as a flower might fall on a wayside path. Captain
Jones bent tenderly down to the fair, slender child, and kissed her
smooth forehead. She loosened her hold of Daph, and nestled at his
side. Again those stranger-tears filled the captain’s eyes, but he did
not look the worse for them, or for the kindly smile that beamed from
his frank, sun-burnt face.

An odd looking party sat round the breakfast-table, in the cabin, that
morning. Captain Jones was at the head, with Charlie on his knee;
opposite him was perched the little Louise, while the weather-browned
faces of the mates appeared at the sides.

Daph had claimed the privilege of milking “Passenger,” the cow--which
Captain Jones had taken with him on many voyages, and on which he had
lavished much of the surplus affection of his bachelor-heart.

“Passenger,” would have found out that she had powerful rivals, if
she could have seen Charlie, enjoying his cup of fresh milk on the
captain’s knee, and Louise looking at him with mild trustful glances,
that went right to his heart.

Daph saw all this, if “Passenger” did not, and with her white teeth in
full sight she moved round the table, in the position of waiter, which
she had assumed to keep her darlings in view, and to have a care that
their new friends, in their abundant kindness, did not feed them too
freely with sailor’s fare.

That was a happy day to the children--that first day on board the
“Martha Jane,”--and the captain prophesied that Charlie would “stand
the sea like an old salt,” and Louise would be as much at home on it as
the “Martha Jane” herself.

There had been a fresh breeze all day, but towards evening the wind
grew stronger, and Daph would have found it hard to carry even a trifle
on that head of hers, which had so steadily borne many a heavy burden.
She began also to experience certain strange internal sensations, for
which she could not account; but the faithful creature bore up without
a complaint, though she staggered to and fro in a way which made the
rough sailors laugh merrily at her expense.

Poor Daph! Such sufferings as hers could not long be kept secret.
Through the live-long night she lay in the anguish of sea-sickness,
which can only be appreciated by those who have experienced its
miseries. In her ignorance, she supposed herself to have been seized by
some fearful malady, which must soon take her life.

“Daph would be glad to die, she so awsome sick,” she said to herself,
“but den, who will mind de babies? No, no! Daph wont die yet. De great
Lord wont let her; Daph knows he wont!”

For two days the poor negro wrestled mightily against the horrors
of sea-sickness, bearing up with the motive, “Daph must live for de
babies!”

Meanwhile, Captain Jones had all the charge of his new pets.
“Passenger” was quite forgotten, as the stout sailor walked the deck,
with Charlie peeping out from under his rough overcoat, and Louise
walking at his side, wrapped in the long soft shawl that Daph had
stowed away in that wonderful basket.

They had strange talks together--that strong man and those prattling
children--and they learned much from each other. He told of the wonders
of the sea--the great whales and the floating ice-bergs--and the
petrel, that the sailor never kills. Many long years, Captain Jones had
made the sea his home, and much he knew, which books had never taught
him, yet in little more than three short years, Louise had caught
a priceless secret, which he had never found in any land. He was
familiar with the wonders of nature, but to her the Great Creator, to
whom he was a stranger, was as a familiar, trusted friend. The marvels
which Captain Jones could tell of the ocean, but increased her wonder
at His power, who “made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all that
in them is,” and in her simple way she would “praise the Lord for all
his wonderful works.” Charlie little knew of the strong feelings which
agitated the breast to which he was clasped, while his little sister
lisped of the lessons learned at her mother’s knee.

Those days of Daph’s sickness were precious days to Captain Jones, and
he was almost sorry when the stout negro triumphed over her enemy, and
came on deck to resume her charge.

The air grew chill as the “Martha Jane” sped on her northward course,
and the white dresses of the children fluttered, most unseasonably, in
the cool breeze. The ship’s stores were ransacked for some material,
of which to make them more suitable, though extempore clothing. A
roll of red flannel was all that promised to answer the purpose. The
captain took the place of master-workman, and cut out what he called
“a handsome suit for a pair of sea-birds;” and Daph, with her clumsy
fingers, made the odd garments. She felt ready to cry as she put them
on, to see her pets so disfigured; but Captain Jones laughed at her
dolorous face, and said the red frock only made his “lily” look the
fairer, and turned Charlie into the sailor he should be.

The “Martha Jane” was nearing the familiar waters of her own northern
home, when the Captain called Daph into the cabin, one evening, to
consult with her on matters of importance.

With the happy disposition of the negro, Daph seemed to have forgotten
that she was not always to live on board the “Martha Jane,” and under
the kind protection of her sailor-friend; she was, therefore, not a
little startled, when he addressed to her the blunt question:

“Where are you going, Daph?”

Now, Daph had a most indistinct idea of the world at large, but, thus
brought suddenly to a decision, she promptly named the only northern
city of which she had heard. “I’se going to New York,” she said; “Miss
Elize, my dear missus, was born dere, and it seems de right sort of a
place to be takin de sweet babies to.”

“Daph,” said the honest captain, “we shall put in to New York
to-morrow, for I have freight to land there, but you had better go
on with me to old Boston. There I can look after you a little, and
put you under charge of my good mother; and a better woman never trod
shoe-leather, for all her son is none of the best. Shall it be so,
Daph?”

“Could n’t do it! Massa Cap’in. Boston! dat mus be mighty far off. I
nebber hear tell of such a place. New York’s de home for my babies,
just where missus was born. May be, some ob her grand cousins may be
turnin up da, to be friends to de pretty dears. Nobody would eber find
us, way off in Boston!”

It was in vain that the captain tried to change Daph’s resolution;
to New York she would go, and he now attacked her at another point,
asking, “What are you going to do when you get there, Daph? Have you
got any money?”

“Not so berry much to begin wid,” said Daph, producing a bit of rag
from her pocket, in which some small change, the result of her traffic
in chickens, was stored. “Not much money, Massa Cap’in, as you see for
yeself; but what do you tink ob dese?” Daph loosened her dress, and
showed on her black neck several gold chains, hung with rings of great
richness and value, and an old-fashioned necklace, set with precious
stones. “What do you tink ob dese, Massa Cap’in?” she repeated, as she
displayed her treasures to his astonished sight.

Daph had put her valuables on for safe-keeping, doubtless, yet not
without a certain satisfaction in wearing articles which so gratified
the love of finery common to the black race.

The captain looked at the jewelry with a sober, pitying expression, as
he said, compassionately, “Poor Daph! If you should offer one of those
rich chains for sale in New York, you might be hurried off to jail as a
thief, in a twinkling; then what would become of my pets?”

Daph betook herself to tears for a few moments, and then rallied, and
said, stoutly, “Daph can work for de babies. She’s a strong darky.
Heard massa say many a time, Daph would bring a big price. Daph will
make heaps of money, and keep young massa and missus libbing like great
folks, as dey should.”

At this idea, Daph’s face regained all its usual cheerfulness, and she
could not be shaken by the further doubts and fears brought forward by
Captain Jones.

“Keep what you have round your neck safely then, Daph,” said the honest
sailor, “and never try to sell them, unless you are ready to starve.
Here’s a little purse of solid gold, that I meant as a present for my
mother; she, good soul, would rather you had it, I know. This will keep
you till you can get a start, and then, may be, you can work for the
dear children, as you say. I have an acquaintance in New York, who may
let you a room or two, and if she can take you in, you may get along.”

“I knew de great Lord would look out for us. His name be praised!” said
the poor negro, gratefully, as she kissed the hand of Captain Jones.
“Ye wont lose your reward, Massa Cap’in; He’ll reckon wid ye!” and she
pointed reverently upwards.

“May He reckon with me in mercy, and not count up my sins!” the captain
said, solemnly, and then bade Daph “good-night.”



IV.

The Red House with the Blue Shutters.


Captain Jones was a prompt and upright business-man, faithful to his
engagements, at any sacrifice.

He was pledged to remain in New York the shortest possible space of
time, he therefore had not, after attending to necessary business, even
an hour to devote to Daph and the little ones. It was a sad moment to
him, when he strained Charlie to his breast for the last time, and
kissed his “Water-lily,” as he loved to call Louise.

He had given Daph a letter to a sailor’s widow, with whom he thought
she would be able to secure a home, where she would escape the idle
and vicious poor who congregated in less respectable parts of the
city. After having made Daph count on her fingers, half a dozen times,
the number of streets she must cross before she came to “the small
red house, with blue shutters,” where she was to stop, he piloted
the little party into Broadway, and setting their faces in the right
direction, he bade them an affectionate farewell.

As he shook Daph’s black hand for the last time, she placed in his a
small parcel, clumsily tied up in brown paper, saying, “You puts that
in your pocket, Massa Cap’in, and when you gets to sea, you open it,
and you will understand what Daph means.”

Captain Jones did, almost unconsciously, as Daph suggested, as, with a
full heart, he turned away from the little ones who had become so dear
to him.

Once more, the only protector of her master’s children, Daph’s energy
seemed to return to her. She wound the shawl more closely about Louise,
drew Charlie to her honest bosom, looked after the various bundles, and
then set off at a regular marching pace.

The strange appearance of the little party, soon attracted the
attention of the knots of idle boys, who even then infested the more
populous parts of New York.

“Hallo, Darky! where’s your hand-organ? What’ll ye take for your
monkeys?” shouted one of these young rascals, as he eyed the children
in their odd-looking red flannel garments.

Louise clung closely to Daph, who strode steadily on, apparently
unconscious of the little troop gathering in her rear. By degrees the
young scamps drew nearer to her, and one of them, taking hold of the
skirt of her dress, cried out, “Come, fellows, form a line! Follow the
captain, and do as you see me do!”

A long string of boys arranged themselves behind Daph, each holding
on to the other’s tattered garments, and walking with mock solemnity,
while the foremost shouted in Daph’s ear the most provoking and
impudent things his imagination and rascality could suggest.

Daph maintained her apparent unconsciousness until she came in front of
a large door, with a deep recess, which opened directly on the street,
and but a step above the pavement.

With a sudden and unexpected jerk she freed herself from her tormentor,
then placing Charlie and Louise for a moment in the recess, she
charged upon her assailants. Right and left she dealt hearty slaps,
with her open hand, which sent the little crew howling away, their
cheeks smarting with pain and burning with rage. The whole thing was
the work of a moment. Daph took Charlie in her arms, clasped the
trembling hand of Louise, and resumed her steady walk as calmly as if
nothing had occurred.

There was much to attract the attention of the strangers in the new
scenes about them, but Daph kept her head straight forward, and devoted
all her attention to numbering the corners she passed, that she might
know when to begin to look out for the house so carefully described by
good Captain Jones.

Louise soon grew weary of keeping pace with Daph’s long strides,
and the faithful negro lifted the little girl in her arms, and went
patiently on with her double burden.

A weary, weary walk it seemed, even to the strong-limbed negro, before
they passed the last corner, according to her reckoning, and stood in
front of the very red house with blue shutters which she had been so
anxious to see. Much as she had longed to reach it, its appearance did
not fill Daph’s heart with joy. A sort of dread of the new people whom
she was to meet stole over her, but she resolved to put a bold face on
the matter, and in this mood she gave a heavy knock at the blue door.
Her imperative summons was promptly answered.

The door was opened by a little girl, of about ten years of age, who
was covered, from her slender neck to her bare feet, with a long
checked pinafore, above which appeared a closely-cropped, brown head,
and a small, demure-looking face. The child stood perfectly still,
gazing in quiet wonder at the strangers, and waiting to hear their
business.

Daph had to set the children down on the steps, and fumble in her
bosom for the captain’s precious note. She drew it at last from its
hiding-place, and handed it triumphantly to the young porteress,
saying, “Dis is what’ll tell you who we are, and what we wants.” The
little girl looked at the note with a puzzled expression, and then
calmly walked away, down the narrow hall, without saying a word. Daph
sat down on the door-step, and took the children on her lap, with a
kind of faith that all would go well, which made her feel quite easy.
She was making the children laugh at a playful pig, that was running up
and down the street, when angry tones from within met her ear, and she
caught the following words:

“Take a negro for a lodger! I shall do no such thing! Who does Captain
Jones think I am!”

“Mother,” said a calm young voice, “you know we shall be behind with
the rent, and then, the children are white; one of them is the whitest
child I ever saw.”

“The rent, yes, that is a bad business. Well, I suppose I must come to
it! What one does have to put up with in this world! Show the woman in!”

Daph, who had heard the whole conversation quite plainly, rose at the
last words, and was ready to accept the invitation to walk into the
back room, which she immediately received.

Daph made a polite courtesy to the sour-looking little woman, who
seemed hardly strong enough to have spoken in the loud, harsh tones
which had just been heard.

“So Captain Jones sent you here!” said the woman, somewhat tartly, as
she eyed the odd-looking party.

Daph had taken off the shawl from Louise, and set Charlie on his feet,
that the children might appear to the best advantage; she stood proudly
between them, as she said, “I wants to hire a room for my missus’s
children. We’s been ’bliged to come north this summer, and will have to
look out a bit for ourselves, as massa could n’t come wid us.”

“Daphne,” said the woman, sweetening a little, “Captain Jones says
that is your name, and that you are an honest industrious woman? Do you
think you will be able to pay the rent, regularly?”

“I has a right to my name,” said Daph, straightening up her stout
figure. “Missus had it gib to me, like any white folks, when she had me
baptised. I isn’t particler about having all of it, so most folks calls
me Daph. Is I honest? Look me in de eye, and answer dat yeself. Is I
industrious? Look at dat arm, and dese ere fingers; do dey look like if
I was lazy?”

The clear eye, muscular arm, and hard work-worn hand were indeed the
best assurances the doubtful questioner could have received.

“As to de rent,” added Daph, “my missus’ children isn’t widout money.”
As she spoke, she gave her pocket a hearty shake, which produced a
significant chinking, that seemed quite satisfactory.

“You are a queer one!” said the woman, “but you may as well look at the
room. It’s right there in front; you passed it as you came in.”

Daph stepped to the door of the front room, pushed it open, and looked
around her, with her head thrown a little on one side, as if that
position were favorable to forming a correct judgment as to its merits.

“Well, it do be radder small,” she said, after a few moment’s
dignified consideration, “but den it be proper clean, and two winder
to de street, for de childen. Haven’t ye got anything to put in it; no
chair, nor table, nor such like?”

“You will have to furnish for yourself,” said the woman, “but you shall
have the room on reasonable terms.”

The bargain was soon made, but whether on reasonable terms or not, Daph
had but little idea, though she prudently concealed her ignorance.

Once in her own domain, Daph sat down on the floor, and giving each of
the children a huge sea-biscuit, she took them in her arms, and began
to wave to and fro, singing one of the wild negro melodies, which
spring up wherever the African race take root.

The weary children were soon in a sound sleep, and then Daph laid them
carefully down on the clean floor, covered them with the shawls she
had found so useful, and then sat stock-still beside them, for a few
moments, lost in deep thought. After a while, she took from her pocket
the purse the captain had given her, and her own store of small change,
wrapped in its bit of rag. The latter she laid aside, saying, “That
mus do for eat. Dat Daph’s own. Now dis, Daph jus borry from de cap’in.
Massa’s children don’t have to come to livin on other people when
Daph’s on her feet. Cap’in Jones got he money’s worth in that beauty
gold chain I puts in his hand, and he not know it.”

Here Daph gave a real negro chuckle, at the thought of the artifice,
which had made her feel at liberty to use the money so kindly given
her, without accepting charity, from which she revolted, as well for
herself as for her master’s children.

“Now Daph must be gittin dis place in order quick, or de childen will
be wakin up,” said Daph, as she rose hastily with the air of one
prepared for action. She carefully closed the shutters, locked the door
behind her, and putting the key in her pocket, set off to make her
purchases.



V.

Daph’s Shopping.


Daph had observed a small cabinet-maker’s shop, not far from her new
home, and to it she easily made her way. The sight of two little wooden
chairs, painted with the usual variety of wonderfully bright colors,
attracted her attention, and suggested her plan of operations.

“It’s for de childen I’se buying,” she said, “and what’s de use ob
paying a big price for grown up things. I just wants two chairs and a
few tings to match for de dears.” While Daph was thus soliloquising,
the shopman came forward, and she promptly addressed him as follows,
“I’se jus come, sar, to buy de fixin ob a leetle room for my massa’s
childen, General Louis La Tourette.”

Daph mentioned her master’s name with a pompous air, and with great
distinctness, which had their effect on the humble cabinet-maker. He
moved about briskly, and Daph soon had displayed before her all the
small articles of furniture he had on hand.

The bright yellow chairs, adorned with the wonderful roses and tulips,
were first set aside; then followed a little table, painted in the same
fanciful manner, and lastly, a good-sized trundle bed, of a somewhat
less gaudy appearance.

“I’se in a most pertickler hurry, jus now,” said Daph; “would you jus
hab de kindness to get for de bed jus what will make it look neat and
comfable; not too nice for childen to play on, while I steps out for a
few notions as I’se ’bliged to git.”

The shopkeeper kindly complied, while Daph went on her way delighted
at being thus able to have what the children would need for comfort, a
matter about which she felt herself quite ignorant in this new climate.

Daph’s next stop was at a tinman’s. Two wash-basins, such as she had
seen on board ship, three shining tin cups, three pewter plates
and spoons, one strong knife and a capacious saucepan, completed
the purchases which she promptly made. Drawing a gold piece from
the captain’s purse, she laid it calmly down on the counter, then
gathered up the various articles selected. The tinker eyed her a
little suspiciously, but there was no look of shame or guilt in her
frank and honest face. He concluded she was a servant, sent out by
her mistress, and carefully gave her the right change, which seemed,
in Daph’s eyes, to double her possessions. When she returned to the
cabinet-maker’s, she found the trundle-bed neatly fitted out, while a
lad with a wheelbarrow was ready to take home the furniture. She added
to her purchases a plain wooden bench, and then said, composedly, “I
don’t know de valer ob such like tings, but General Louis La Tourette,
my massa, does, and you must deal right and honest.” As she spoke, she
laid down two of her precious gold pieces, then gathered up the small
change returned to her, not without some misgivings as to the accuracy
of the shopman.

When Daph reached home, she found the children still sleeping soundly,
and she was able to get the little room in order to her satisfaction
before they were fairly awake.

She turned up the trundle-bed on end, and threw over it as a curtain
the pure white spread the shopman had provided. The deep recess on one
side of the chimney, thus shut in, Daph intended to consider as her
private resort, and in the small cupboard in the wall, she laid out the
children’s clothes with scrupulous care. This done, she set out the
little table with the new cups and plates, and drew the chairs near it,
while the remaining tin treasures were ranged along the wash-bench in
the most attractive manner.

It was well for Louise and Charlie that they had been much accustomed
to being away from their mother, or they might have been poorly
prepared for their present lot.

General La Tourette had married a young American girl, who was then
living on an island near that on which his plantation was situated.
Shortly after this marriage, the husband received a dangerous wound in
his side, which unfitted him for active duty, and he resolved to settle
down on his own plantation, which had for a long time been under the
care of a most injudicious overseer.

Daph accompanied her mistress to her new home, and tried her utmost
skill in cookery to tempt her master’s now delicate appetite. Even her
powers were at last at fault, and General La Tourette could not taste
the tempting morsels which the faithful creature loved always to
prepare for him.

Frequent change of air was now prescribed for the invalid, and the
fond mother was almost constantly separated from the children she so
tenderly loved; yet her sweet, devoted, christian character had already
made its impression on the little Louise.

Thus situated, the children had learned to be happy for the present
hour, with any one who happened to have the charge of them. General La
Tourette, though a native of France, spoke English in his family, and
to that language his little ones were accustomed. They took no fancy to
the cross French nurse who had latterly had the charge of them, and
much preferred Daph, whose English was pleasant to their ears. They
loved to linger at the door of her southern kitchen, or play under the
wide-spreading tree that waved over its roof.

Daph returned their affection with all the strength of her warm heart,
and Mrs. La Tourette felt sure that in her absence, Daph would watch
over both children and nurse with an eagle-eye.

With more of the dove than the eagle in her expression, Daph now sat
beside the little ones in their new home, so far from the land of their
birth.

Not long after her preparations were completed, Daph had the
satisfaction of seeing the children awake, refreshed by their long
sleep, and full of eager delight at the wonders achieved by their new
nurse. She listened with hearty satisfaction to their exclamations of
surprise and pleasure at the shining tin and gayly painted chairs.

Daph was just wondering what was to fill plates and cups that looked
so attractive, when a bell was rung imperatively, in the street,
before the house. From all sides women and girls gathered round the
bell-ringer’s cart, and from his great cans he filled their vessels
with milk, which was at this moment most refreshing to the eyes of
Daph. She seized her new saucepan, and sallying out, presented it to
the milkman, and received her supply. She watched carefully the bits
of money given by other applicants and was fortunate enough to select,
from the change she had that day received, the right payment for the
milk.

In a few moments, the children were seated at the little table, and
enjoying their nice supper of crackers and milk, in a way that made
Daph’s eyes sparkle with delight.

“Daffy eat too!” said Charlie, motioning to her to put the spoon in her
mouth, instead of his own. “Yes, Daffy,” said Louise, “do take some
supper.”

Daph had hardly thought once of herself during the whole of this
busy afternoon, but when the children had finished their meal, she
filled her cup with the fare they had enjoyed, and ate it with no less
satisfaction.

“Daph knew de great Lord would take care of us!” she murmured, as she
looked round on the room that seemed to her so comfortable, and true,
fervent gratitude, undisturbed by one fear for the future, filled the
heart of the faithful negro.



VI.

Clouds.


Alas for Daph! She was soon to find life was not all sunshine in her
northern home. The lovely May weather, which had been like a pleasant
welcome to the strangers, suddenly vanished, and was succeeded by dark
clouds, pouring rain, and keen easterly winds. Daph was glad to keep
the children wrapped in the bed-clothes, while she racked her ingenuity
to find means of amusing them. Charlie took a wash-basin for a drum,
and the pewter spoon with which he beat it was a constant and patient
sufferer. Louise was not so easily pleased; she began to miss her
mother sorely, and tried poor Daph, by pleading piteously to see her
“own dear mamma.”

Daph had tried to banish from her mind all thoughts of her master and
mistress, for the bare imagination of what they might have suffered
made her wild with distress. She said to herself, “What for Daph go to
tink about tings, jus as likely nebber was at all! Daph makes out de
great Lord could n’t save massa and Miss Elize all hisself, widout Daph
to help him! Foolish darky! She better cheer up, and take care ob de
childen, ’stead o’ jus whimper, whimper, like a sick monkey.”

Daph had to go through a course of consolation, similar to the above,
very frequently, to enable her to maintain her cheerfulness; but the
piteous questionings of the little Louise well-nigh overcame all the
poor negro’s philosophy.

“I’se tell you what it is, Miss Lou,” poor Daph said, desperately, at
last, “I’se jus tell you what it is; de great Lord is a-takin care ob
your mamma, and if you’s a good girl, you’ll jus see her some day, and
if you is not, de great Lord will nebber, nebber bring you together!”

Daph’s manner, as well as her words, had some effect upon Louise, and
she tried to content herself with watching the rain streaming down the
window-panes, and was soon in a sufficiently cheerful mood to march
up and down the room, to the sound of Charlie’s music, greatly to his
satisfaction.

The dreary weather without was not all that Daph had to contend with;
she found she had an enemy within the house, whose attacks it was far
more difficult to meet.

The little woman, whose angry voice had attracted Daph’s attention at
first, kept her humble lodger familiar with its harsh tones. Daph’s
appearance was the signal for a volley of complaints, as to the noise
made by the children, the marks left on the floor by Daph’s feet, as
she returned from the well, the unpleasantness of “seeing other folks
so much at home in one’s own house,” etc., etc.

Daph never had a chance to get any further than, “deed, Miss Ray!” in
her attempts at self-justification, for the opening of her mouth was
sure to produce another tirade on the “impudence of certain people,
that nobody knew anything about.”

The demure-looking little girl was generally a silent spectator of
these attacks, but now and then she was forced to cry out, “O, mother!
don’t!” which protest was generally met by a sharp box of the ear, and
a “take that, Mary, and learn to be quiet!” If Mary Ray had learned
any lesson, it certainly was to be quiet. She rarely spoke, and her
footsteps were almost as noiseless as the fall of the winter snow.

Daph soon found out that Mrs. Ray considered Mary especially guilty, in
having presumed to live, when her brother, a fine healthy boy, had been
snatched away by sudden disease.

The loss of her husband, and consequent poverty, had somewhat soured
Mrs. Ray’s temper, but her last bereavement seemed to have made her
all acidity. She constantly reproached Mary for being a useless girl,
always in her mother’s sight, when the dear boy, on whom she had hoped
to lean, had been taken from her.

Daph’s keen sympathies were soon warmly enlisted for little Mary, who
had really begun to believe she was quite in fault for continuing to
cumber the earth, when nobody wanted her here.

Daph never passed Mary without a cheerful word, and she contrived to
show the child many trifling acts of kindness, which went directly to
her heart.

At one time Daph, with her strong arm, lifted Mary’s heavy pail of
water, at another, she took her pitcher to the milkman in a pouring
rain; and one day, when she could think of no other way of showing
her interest, she secretly bestowed on the little girl one of the few
oranges which still remained of the store brought from the ship.

Mary’s sorrowful face, Mrs. Ray’s harsh voice, the penetrating chill
in the air, and the monotonous life she led in the single room, made
it hard for Daph to bear up cheerfully, and, but for the children, she
would have withdrawn to a corner, and moped all the time. She managed
to keep up her spirits during the day, but when the little ones were
asleep, she had her own sad, wakeful hours. More than a week had
passed in this dreary way. Daph saw her treasured store of money fast
diminishing, under the necessary expenditure for supplying the simple
wants of her little establishment, and she already saw, too plainly,
that the whole party must soon have a new outfit of clothing, or they
would be disgraced by their rags and uncleanliness.

The children were quietly slumbering near her; she had extinguished the
candle, that it might not waste its feeble light, and, with her head on
her hand, she began to consider seriously the situation in which she
found herself. The present was dark enough, but what was she to think
of the gloomy future!

Where should she look for the work she would so willingly do? How
could she leave her little charge, even if that work were found?

A sense of utter helplessness came over the poor negro, and hot tears
poured down her cheeks.

A sudden thought struck her; there was One all-powerful, and to Him she
would go. She fell on her knees, and uttered her first simple prayer:
“Will de great Lord gib poor Daph something for do?”

Overpowered by the effort she had made, and fearful there was something
presuming in a poor creature like herself daring to speak to the being
she so reverenced, Daph sank down on the floor, in a position of silent
humility. A conviction that she had been heard and forgiven for the
boldness of her prayer stole over her, and she stretched herself as
usual on the bare floor, and was soon in a sound sleep.



VII.

A New Path.


Daph rose the following morning, at her usual early hour, and went to
perform her customary ablutions beside the well, keeping, however, a
sharp look out for Mrs. Ray, to be ready to beat a retreat as soon as
that formidable person should make herself heard. No Mrs. Ray appeared,
and Daph’s curiosity tempted her to take a peep into the room which
served as kitchen, parlor, and general abiding-place for Mrs. Ray and
Mary, though they slept in the loft above.

Mary was diligently ironing, at this early hour, giving from time to
time, dolorous glances at a great basketful of damp clothes, which
seemed to diminish but slowly under her efforts.

“Where’s your ma?” said Daph, as she thrust her head fairly in at the
door, regardless of consequences.

“Mother’s very sick this morning,” said Mary, sorrowfully, “she can’t
even turn herself in bed, and all these clothes must go home to-night,
we have had to keep them too long now, it has been so wet.”

“Nebber fret bout de close,” said Daph, cheerily; “I’se held a flat
’fore dis! Do Daph good to work a little, she mighty tired, sittin up
all day like a lady. Spose I jus steps up to look at your ma. May be I
might do somewhat for her, to make her feel some better.”

“O, don’t!” exclaimed Mary, hastily, “she might not like it.”

“Nebber you mind dat!” said Daph, “you jus show me de way.”

Mary pointed to the door that led to the narrow staircase, and Daph
needed no further guidance.

“Ye’s mighty sick, isn’t ye, Miss’ Ray?” said Daph, compassionately, as
she stepped to the bedside of the sufferer.

Mrs. Ray turned her head to the wall and groaned, but Daph was not to
be easily disconcerted.

“Spose I jus makes you a little warm drink, and kinder helps you to
frow off dis ere sickness?” said Daph, insinuatingly.

“O, my back! my bones! they ache so!” said the poor woman.

“It’s jus bein out in dis wet wedder, jus a-comin from dat awful hot
fire into de swash down rain,” said Daph. “White folks isn’t used to
such hard work. You jus can’t bear it, dats it.”

Daph had struck the right cord, and Mrs. Ray answered, “No; I aint
used to it. That’s true enough, but who have I got to help me, but just
that slip of a girl. O, if my boy had only lived!”

Daph did not wait to hear more of the complaints, which were the burden
of Mrs. Ray’s daily talk. She hastened to the kitchen, and with Mary’s
help, she soon prepared a steaming bowl of of herb-tea, which Mrs. Ray
took from her hand without a word. She would have resisted, when Daph
proceeded to bathe her feet in warm water, but the kind-hearted negro
went steadily on, regardless of opposition, saying, “You’s so very
sick, we’s mus jus take care of you, same as if you were a bit of a
baby. There now, let me jus put de cubber over you,” she said, as she
released the restive feet. “Now, if you could jus git a little sleep,
while I go dress de babies, I’se do believe you would feel mighty
better.”

Mrs. Ray did fall into a quiet sleep, the more sound from the night of
wakefulness and pain she had just passed. When she awoke, she heard
unusual sounds in the kitchen below, and if she could have peeped down
the stair-way, a pleasant scene would have met her eyes. A cheerful
fire roared up the wide chimney. Daph, revived by the welcome heat, was
ironing away at the great table, with real heartiness, while little
Mary, at her side, tried to move her slender arms in the same energetic
manner. Charlie was seated on the table, a happy spectator of these
proceedings, while Louise stood by him, sprinkling and folding a bit of
rag again and again, not doubting that she was amazingly useful.

“Mary! Mary!” said a voice from above, feebler and a little less sharp
than usual, “who’s down there with you?”

“It’s jus me and de childen, Miss’ Ray,” said Daph, putting her head
fearlessly up the stair-way. “Dat big basket o’ clothes wants ’tention,
and I’se jus thought I’se better be ironin a bit, to git de tings out
de way.”

Mrs. Ray made no answer, and Daph, after satisfying herself that the
patient was a little better, stepped quietly back into the kitchen.

Daph really enjoyed her busy day, and it was followed by sound natural
sleep, instead of hours of wakefulness and anxious thought.

It was more than a week before Mrs. Ray recovered from the violent
cold which had so suddenly removed her from the scene of operations;
meanwhile Daph and Mary had become excellent friends. The little girl
exchanged her hard work for the pleasant care of the children, and
Daph’s strong arms had the exercise they needed. Daph’s busy brain
had not meanwhile been idle; the sight of the great oven in the wide
chimney-corner had suggested to her a plan, which she was impatient to
carry out.

When Mrs. Ray first appeared in the kitchen, she gave an anxious look
about her, as if she expected to see nothing but disorder and dirt; but
the well-scoured floor and shining plates on the dresser had another
tale to tell. Of Daph’s skill in cookery, she had tasted several
striking specimens, since her appetite had in a measure returned, and
she looked on somewhat curiously, as Daph busied herself about the
fire, preparing what she called, “Just a bit relish, to strengthen up
Miss’ Ray, now she’s on her two feet again.”

Mary was with the children, and Mrs. Ray took the opportunity to say,
“You have been very good to me, Daph, and I am sure you had no reason;”
and tears of shame actually came into the poor woman’s eyes.

“Now don’t, Miss’ Ray!” said Daph, “I’se isn’t been and done anything
at all. Come, take a little breakfast, and ye’ll feel better, I’m sure.”

“What can I do for you, Daph?” continued Mrs. Ray, who had been really
touched by the persevering kindness of the honest negro.

“Well now, Miss’ Ray,” said Daph, “I wants to make a little money.
I jus thinks I might do de ironin for you ebery week, for you can’t
stand such hard work, and then, may be you’d jus let me hab de use ob
dat beauty oven, for somewhat I wants to do. I’se jus used to cookin,
and may be, if I makes some ob de cakes missus used to like so much, I
might sell dem, at some ob de grand houses, and so make a pretty sum,
by-and-bye.”

This arrangement was easily made, for Mrs. Ray felt within her but
little strength for work, and she was also anxious to shew her sense of
Daph’s late kindness.

One bright June morning, Daph put herself in what she called “splinker
order,” and the children shouted with delight when her toilet was made.
With the help of Mrs. Ray and Mary she had cut out and completed a
good calico dress, and a full white apron, and these, with her snowy
turban, made a most respectable appearance. A new basket, covered with
a clean cloth, was on her head, and within it was stored a variety of
nice cakes, which she was proud to show as a specimen of her cookery.

Mary stood at the window with the children, as Daph went off, and the
little ones kissed their hands to her until she was fairly out of sight.

Daph had learned her way about the city with ease, for she had quick
observation, and a ready memory, and she now found no difficulty in
reaching what she called the “grand houses,” which were ranged in
imposing rows, on what is now one of the business streets.

At door after door she tried to gain admittance, but the consequential
servants turned her off with a contemptuous word, and her heart began
to sink within her. At last, as an imperative footman was ordering her
away from a great family mansion, two ladies passed out, to enter a
carriage. Daph was desperate. She dropped a curtsy and said, “Ladies,
like some nice cakes?” and at the same moment she lowered her basket,
uncovered it, and displayed its tempting array.

The frank, good face of the negro, and the attractive appearance of her
wares, secured the attention of the ladies, and they purchased largely.
Encouraged by their kindness, Daph said, “If de ladies would jus
speak for Daph to some ob de great folks, to buy from her Tuesdays and
Fridays, Daph would try to please dem.”

“I like the woman, mother,” said Rose Stuyvesant, “shall we engage her
to come here always, and see what we can do for her?”

The mother assented, and Daph, turning to express her gratitude, looked
into the face of the youngest speaker.

It was a sweet face for man or angel to look into. Nature had made it
fair, and parted the golden hair above the soft blue eyes; but there
was a sweetness round the expressive mouth, and a purity in every line
of the oval face, that told of a soul at peace with God, and ruled by
his holy law.

Daph long remembered that face, and as she visited the Stuyvesant
mansion, week after week, she deemed that a bright day when she caught
even a glimpse of her, whom she called “the sweet young lady.”

Time passed on, and Daph thrived in her little traffic, until her cakes
were well known, and her form eagerly looked for in many a splendid
home; but the best triumphs of her skill she ever reserved for the
Stuyvesant mansion, where she had first found a welcome.



VIII.

News.


As the honest efforts of poor Daph were crowned with success, she
found herself abundantly able to provide for the physical wants of her
master’s children. Three years of toil had rolled quickly away. Charlie
had passed his fourth birth-day, and become a strong-willed, sturdy
boy, while the slender figure of the fair Louise had grown and rounded,
and the Rose had learned to bloom on the cheek of Captain Jones’s
“Water-lily.”

Daph looked at her little ones with affectionate pride, and watched
over them with the most tender care. She encouraged them to play in
the small garden in the rear of their humble home, but in the street
they were never seen. The garments she fashioned for them were neat
and tidy, and the snowy aprons they always wore, were monuments of her
skill as a laundress; but she was conscious of a something in their
external appearance, which was not as it should be. About the manners
of her charge, Daph was still more troubled. “Why you eat so, Miss
Lou?” she would sometimes say. “How shall I eat, Daffy?” the child
would reply. “Well, I jus don’t know,” poor Daph would answer, “but
dere’s somewhat bout de way you childen do be, at de table, dat Daph
don’t jus know how to spress it.”

More serious troubles than these by degrees came upon Daph, in her
management. Charlie, though an affectionate, generous child, was
hot-tempered and wilful, and when he resisted Daph’s authority, or
raised his little hand to give an angry blow, the poor creature knew
not what to do. In these scenes she generally triumphed, by the look
of real distress which clouded her usually pleasant face, and brought
Charlie, repentant to her arms.

With Louise, Daph had another difficulty. The child was usually gentle
and submissive, but she seemed to pine for other companions, and a home
different from that which Daph was able to provide for her.

The early lessons of piety which Louise had learned at her mother’s
knee, had faded from her mind. Daph could remind the little girl to say
her simple prayer at morning and evening, but she could not talk to her
of the loving Saviour, or recount the wonders of the Gospel she had
never read.

The little book, with the golden clasps, Daph had cherished with the
utmost care. She knew it contained the secret which could bring peace
and order to her little home, but its treasures she, in her ignorance,
could not unlock.

Once she had ventured to ask Mrs. Ray to read a little to her from it,
but she met with a short negative, and a cold, averted look.

Mary was almost as ignorant of letters as Daph herself. So the poor
negro kept the precious book unopened, and awaited God’s time for
leading her from darkness unto light.

That the children of her dear mistress would be allowed to grow up,
ignorant of the knowledge that belonged to their station, and strangers
to the Bible their mother had loved, Daph would not allow herself
to believe. “It will come, I’se sure!” Daph would say to herself;
“de great Lord can make it right!” and thus she stifled her anxious
forebodings, and strove to do the duty of the present hour.

Mrs. Ray’s temper was not quite as trying as when Daph first made
her acquaintance. The kindness of the honest negro, and her cheerful
acceptance of the trials of her lot, had their influence under that
humble roof, and won respect and affection, even from Mrs. Ray. The
sunshine of Charlie’s happy, roguish face, had cheered the lonely
widow, and Louise had exerted on her a softening, refining influence.
Mrs. Ray was improved, but not thoroughly changed.

Little Mary had many harsh words yet to hear, but time had abated the
poignancy of the mother’s grief for her lost darling, and made her
somewhat more alive to the virtues of her hard-working, quiet, little
girl.

During the three years that had passed, since they had dwelt under the
same roof, sickness, at various times, had made the little household
seem like one family, and the habit of helping each other had daily
drawn them nearer.

Mary’s demure face was lighted up with wonder as she said to Daph, one
day, “There’s a gentleman at the door, asking if mother still lives
here, and if you are at home.”

“Is it a tall, tall gentleman, that looks grand-like and magnificent?”
said Daph, earnestly, as the thought of her master at once rose to her
mind.

“Not exactly,” said Mary, and, as she spoke, Mrs. Ray opened the door,
and ushered in Captain Jones.

Although her first feeling was disappointment, Daph shed tears of joy
as she clasped the hand of the honest captain; her tears, however,
brightened into smiles as she saw the approving look the captain
bestowed on her pets, as he caught them in his arms.

Charlie struggled and fought to be free, shouting, “I like you, sir,
but you need not squeeze me so, and rub me with your rough whiskers.”

Charlie got another hug for an answer, while Louise said, “Who is it,
Daph? It cannot be my father!”

“No! no! darling!” said the captain, quickly, and he dashed the tears
from his eyes, and was sobered in an instant.

Mrs. Ray looked on with astonishment and curiosity, at the cordial
meeting between her old acquaintance and her lodgers.

Captain Jones had known Mrs. Ray slightly in her better days, and he
now turned to her, and inquired kindly after her welfare. As usual,
she had a series of grievances to relate, but she forbore speaking
slightingly of Mary, who had modestly retired into the background. The
little girl was somewhat astonished when the captain came towards her,
and gave her a hearty greeting, as the child of his old mess-mate, and
seemed to think her well worth speaking to, though “only a girl.”

The whole party sat down together, and time passed rapidly on, while
the captain sat, with the children in his arms, and heard Daph’s
account of her various trials and adventures since they parted. Mrs.
Ray listened with eager curiosity, but she could gather little from
Daph’s words that she did not already know.

At length, Captain Jones said, with a great effort, “Daph, I have
something to say to you, which is not fit for the children’s ears,” and
he gave at the same time an expressive glance towards Mrs. Ray.

The widow seized Mary by the hand, and flounced indignantly out of the
room, saying, “I am sure we have too much to do to stay here, where we
are not wanted. No good comes of secrets, that ever I heard of!”

“Come children, come with Mary,” said the girl, apparently unconscious
of her mother’s indignant manner.

The children followed somewhat reluctantly, and Daph and the captain
were left alone together. Since the moment of her landing, Daph had had
no one to whom she might speak of the dark fears for her master and
mistress, that at times preyed upon her; to her own strange departure
she had never alluded. She had met questionings with dignified silence,
and had patiently endured insinuations, which, but for her clear
conscience, would have driven her to frenzy. Now, she felt that she was
to hear some important news, and her trembling knees refused to support
her. Anxious and agitated, she sank on her low bench, and fixed her
eyes eagerly on the captain.

“Daph,” he began, “there was horrible truth in your words that night,
when you pleaded so earnestly on board the Martha Jane! I thank God
that I did not turn a deaf ear to you then! Daph, you have saved your
master’s children from a bloody death, and you will be rewarded, as
there is a Father in Heaven!”

The captain paused, and Daph bent anxiously forward, exclaiming, “My
dear missus? master?”

Captain Jones could not speak. He drew his hand significantly across
his throat, and then pointed solemnly upwards.

Daph understood his meaning but too well. She had hoped on,
determinately; but now the hour of awful certainty had come, and she
could not bear it. She gave one loud scream, and fell senseless on the
floor. The wild yell that burst from the anguished heart of the negro,
rang through the house, and Mrs. Ray and Mary were at the door in a
moment, followed by the terrified children. Little Louise dropped down
beside Daph, and began to cry piteously, while Charlie flew at Captain
Jones like a young lion, and loudly exclaiming, “The naughty man has
killed dear Daffy, and I’ll punish him.”

While Mrs. Ray and her daughter were making every effort to recall poor
Daph to consciousness, Charlie continued his attack upon the captain,
with sturdy foot, clenched hand, and sharp teeth, until the honest
sailor was actually obliged to protect himself, by putting the child
forcibly from the room, and firmly locking the door.

Perfectly infuriated, Charlie flew into the street, screaming, “They’ve
killed my Daffy! The wicked! wicked man.”

Several persons gathered round the enraged child, and a young
physician, who was passing, stopped, to find out the cause of the
disturbance. Charlie’s words, “She lies dead there! The wicked man has
killed her,” caught the attention of Dr. Bates, and he eagerly asked,
“Where, where, child?”

Charlie pointed towards the house, and the doctor entered, without
ceremony, Charlie closely following him. His loud knock was answered by
Captain Jones, whose cautious manner of unlocking the door seemed, to
the young physician, a most suspicious circumstance.

Charlie no sooner caught sight of his enemy than he leaped furiously
upon him. The strong sailor received him in his muscular arms, and
there held him, a most unwilling prisoner, while he watched the
proceedings going on about poor Daph, and rendered assistance where he
could.

Dr. Bates ordered her clothes to be instantly loosened, and then
commanded Mrs. Ray to lay her flat on the floor, while he proceeded to
apply his lancet to her arm.

While this process was going on, the clock on a neighboring steeple
struck twelve. Captain Jones looked hastily at his great silver watch,
and saw that it was indeed midday, and he had not a moment to spare,
as the Martha Jane was by this time quite ready to set sail, and only
waiting for her captain.

He hurriedly placed a little parcel on the mantel-piece, and with one
long, sorrowful look at poor Daph, and a hasty farewell to Mrs. Ray and
the children, he left the house.

It was long before Daph returned to consciousness, and when her eyes
once more opened they were wild with fever and anguish. She declared,
however, that she was quite well, and would have no one about her; she
longed to be alone, to struggle with her great sorrow. The children
would not leave her, but it was in vain they tried their little
expressions of tenderness, and begged her look once more like their
“own dear Daffy.”

The sight of the unconscious orphans redoubled the grief of the poor
negro, and she burst into a flood of tears. The poor children, overcome
at this unwonted sight, sank down beside her, and mingled their tears
with hers.

Mrs. Ray and the young doctor were sorely puzzled by the strange scenes
they had witnessed. They had both seen the rich chains about Daph’s
neck, which had been disclosed while she was unconscious, and not a
little wonder was excited by the sight of that expensive jewelry
in such a place. Dr. Bates had not failed to observe the refined
appearance of the fair Louise and the noble bearing of little Charlie,
contrasting as they did so strangely, with the plainness of their
humble home, and the unmistakable African face of the woman, of whom
they seemed so fond.

The wild agitation of Daph, the disappearance of the sun-browned
stranger, the necklaces, the children, all tended to fill the mind of
Dr. Bates with dark suspicion. He lingered about Daph as long as he
could make any excuse for doing so, and when he reluctantly turned from
the room, he did not leave the house without thoroughly questioning
Mrs. Ray as to what she knew of her lodgers. Mrs. Ray had but little
to tell, excepting, that they had been commended to her, three years
before, by the same tall sailor, whose appearance that day had created
such a commotion. Of Captain Jones she could only say, that he had been
a mess-mate of her husband, years before, and had always been reckoned
an honest, kind-hearted man.

The questions put by Dr. Bates roused all the curiosity of Mrs. Ray,
and revived the suspicions, with regard to Daph, which had been much
in her mind during the early days of their acquaintance. Such thoughts
had long since been banished, by the honest, upright life of the
kind-hearted, industrious negro, but now they rose with new strength.

She recalled the richly embroidered dresses in which the children
sometimes appeared, the first summer after their arrival, and she
dwelt on the reluctance which Daph always exhibited to answering any
questions as to her past life, or the circumstances attending her
departure from her southern home.

These remembrances and suspicions she detailed to the willing ear of
Dr. Bates, who was satisfied that he was on the eve of unraveling some
tangled web of iniquity, and with slow and thoughtful steps he walked
away from the humble home, so wrapped in mystery.

Once more left to herself, Mrs. Ray felt ashamed of having doubted
poor Daph, and was half inclined to go to her, and frankly own the
misgivings the late occurrences had excited; but the thought of those
strange circumstances again set her curiously at work, and all right
feeling was soon lost, in an eager anxiety to find out the dark secret,
which hung like a cloud over the poor negro.



IX.

A Ministering Spirit.


Daph had been smitten by a blow too sudden and violent, to rally
immediately from its effects. Her strength and energy seemed forever
gone. The hope which had upheld her had been stricken from her, and she
knew not where to go for comfort.

“De great Lord has gib poor Daph up!” she said, disconsolately; and,
prostrate in mind and body, she lay on her low bed, her eyes shut, and
her soul all dark within.

It was now that Mary Ray had an opportunity of showing her deep
gratitude, for the unwearied kindness of her humble friend. She assumed
the care of the children, and tried to keep them happy out of Daph’s
sight, and thoughtfully volunteered to go round herself to Daph’s
customers, to tell them that sickness had prevented her from preparing
her usual supply.

All that Mary offered, Daph quietly accepted, almost without opening
her eyes.

Daph seemed to have no wants, and it was in vain that Mrs. Ray came
in and out, and bustled about putting the room in order, opening and
closing the shutters, and making herself very busy, to no possible
advantage; Daph did not notice her; her thoughts were far, far away.

In one of these visits, Mrs. Ray chanced to find the gold chain
the captain had laid on the mantel-piece. This added fuel to her
suspicions, and she felt justified in secreting it, and showing it to
Dr. Bates, as a further proof of the mystery clinging to Daph.

Mrs. Ray’s mind was in a most agitated state. Sometimes she was haunted
with vague notions of some most awful crime committed by Daph, and then
again the kind, truthful face of the negro would rise up before her,
and change her suspicions into shame and self-reproach.

At such times, she could not help feeling, that only virtue and honesty
could be at home in a heart capable of such generous forgiveness, and
patient return of good for evil, as she had received from the now
sorrow-stricken negro. These moments of relenting, to soon alas! were
gone.

Daph was lying sad and alone in the silent room, a few days after the
visit of Captain Jones, when she heard a low tap at the door, followed
by Mrs. Ray’s loud voice, saying, “Walk right in, Miss. She aint much
sick, to my notion, but she don’t take no notice of anybody.”

Daph did notice the stranger who entered, and she even smiled
sorrowfully as she looked up into the face of Rose Stuyvesant.

“We missed your nice cakes on the table, Daph,” said a soft voice, “and
when I heard you were sick, I determined to come and see you myself.”

These words of kindness from a refined and gentle woman, melted the
heart of the suffering negro. She burst into tears as she exclaimed,
“O, my sweet young lady! You speaks to poor Daph like her own dear
missus used to!”

Rose Stuyvesant sat down beside the low bed that Mary had spread for
Daph on the floor. “Are you very sick, Daph?” she asked, tenderly.

“Daph is all dead here, and all dizzy here,” said the poor creature,
laying her hand first on her heart, and then on her head. “De great
Lord has sent Daph a big trouble, and den gib her right up;” and the
tears again flowed fast.

Rose bent over the unhappy negro, and said, gently, “The great Lord
loves you too well, Daph, to give you up in your trouble. Perhaps he
has sent me to comfort you!”

Daph looked up with a gleam of hope in her eye, and murmured, “No
reason why Daph should n’t jus tell all de truth now. Perhaps, if de
sweet young lady knows all, she may comfort Daph up.”

“The Lord Jesus can comfort us in any trouble,” said Rose, softly.
“What makes you so unhappy? Cannot you tell me?”

Daph looked long into the sweet face turned lovingly towards her, and
then said, “De great Lord has sent a-most an angel to poor Daph, and
she shall hear it all.”

The secret that had so long burdened the lonely negro, was now poured
out with all the unconscious eloquence of a true, warm, single-heart.
The tears flowed fast down the cheeks of Rose Stuyvesant, as she heard
the simple story of devoted, heroic affection, and long, patient
self-sacrifice.

She understood the hope that had cheered Daph through years of labor
and anxiety,--the hope of placing the children of her mistress again on
the bosom that had nursed them, and of seeing the happy father again
embrace his long lost ones. That hope was now forever gone, and Rose
Stuyvesant mingled her tears with those of poor Daph, as she concluded
her story.

Those real tears made Daph feel that she had found a true friend, who
sympathised with her in her distress, and this in itself was a whisper
of comfort.

As soon as Rose could command herself, she said, as she took the black
hand in her own, “Daph, the mother who loved to teach her little ones
of Jesus, has gone to be with Him. Your master, too, is now with the
Heavenly King. You will still be able to give them back their children,
in that better land, where there is no parting, where no sorrow ever
comes.”

The negro looked earnestly in the face of the speaker, as she went on;
“You must teach the little ones to love the Lord Jesus, and lead them
to his home in heaven. Daph, you have that now to do, and that is worth
living and striving for.”

“How shall poor Daph show the way to heaven; she don’t know it jus
zactly herself,” said the poor creature, and the momentary gleam of
hope faded from her face as she spoke.

“Jesus Christ has opened the door of heaven wide, for all that love Him
and trust Him,” said Rose, eagerly; “His blood, shed on the cross, can
wash away the sins of the whole world. The great Lord will forgive you
all that is past, and receive you into heaven, for Jesus’ sake, if you
really wish it.”

“What else Daph want now in dis world, but jus know de way to heaven
herself, and lead de childen dere?” was the earnest reply.

Poor Daph had been entrusted with but little religious knowledge, but
to that she had clung in simple faith through all her trials. She had
improved the few talents that had been given her, and now came her
reward in the fulness of the light of the gospel.

Again, and again her young teacher explained the way of forgiveness and
eternal peace through the blood of Christ.

At last the beauty, freedom, and matchless love of the plan of
redemption burst upon her, and there was joy in heaven, when the poor
negro in the midst of her tears, welcomed Christ as her Saviour, and
knew “the great Lord,” as her reconciled Father in heaven.

While the long conversation, so full of moment to Daph, was taking
place, Mary Ray had kept the children happy in the little garden. Their
patience at last gave way, and they pleaded so hard “Just to look at
dear Daffy,” that their young nurse could resist them no longer.

Charlie burst impetuously into the room, unmindful of the stranger,
while Louise more timidly followed. Warm tears filled the eyes of Rose
Stuyvesant as she looked, for the first time, on the orphans. Charlie
saw immediately the happy change that had passed over Daph’s face, and
walking straight up to her, he said exultingly “Daffy’s better! Daffy’s
better! Good Daffy!” and he laid his curly head on her dark arm which
told how dearly she was beloved.

A peculiar attraction seemed to draw Louise to the side of the
stranger, and when she was tenderly kissed, and that sweet, soft, face
bent down to hers, with loving interest, the child put her head on the
bosom of Rose Stuyvesant, clung to her neck and sobbed as if her heart
would break.

“It is not mamma!” murmured the child; and then more and more fondly
embraced one, who had brought back from the dim recesses of memory, the
image of her long-lost mother.

Rose was but little less moved than the child, and in her heart she
prayed that she might give to the little one such lessons in holiness,
as would win an approving smile, were they heard by that mother in
heaven.

By degrees, the agitation of little Louise subsided, but she quietly
kept her seat on the lap of her new friend, and seemed to find a new
pleasure in looking into her kind face and smoothing her fair, soft
hand.

Meanwhile, Daph drew from her pocket a parcel, which she had ever
carried about her, perhaps with the vague idea that it had some
talismanic charm to keep her from evil. Wrapper after wrapper was taken
off, until at last the little book with golden clasps appeared.

“That was all about Him, I know,” said Daph, “about that good Saviour,
but Daph can’t read the blessed book.”

Rose took the Bible that was handed to her and read on the fly-leaf,
“Elize Latourette, from her devoted husband. One Lord, one faith, one
baptism!”

The sight of that book in the hands of Rose, again awoke the dim
memories of the child on her knee, and Louise, through fresh tears, was
doubly drawn towards her new friend.

“Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not, for of
such is the kingdom of heaven,” read the sweet voice of Rose. “All are
the children of Jesus, who put their trust in Him, and truly love Him.”

A thrill passed over the frame of little Louise at the sound of these
words, and she kissed the lips of the speaker, with strange joy in her
eyes. “I cannot stay any longer now,” said Rose, attempting to rise.

“Don’t go! don’t go!” said Louise, almost wildly, “I cannot let you go!”

“But I must, my sweet Louise,” said Rose, as she gently disengaged the
child: “I must go now, but I will come every day and read to you, and
your ‘Daffy,’ out of this dear book.”

“When? When? What time will you come?” asked the child, anxiously,
while Daph listened eagerly for the answer.

“Tomorrow, at eleven o’clock, you must stand at the window and watch
for me, I will not keep you waiting long.”

With this promise again repeated, Rose kissed the children, and with a
murmured word of comfort to Daph, passed from the room.

Not so soon passed away the influence of that visit prompted by
Christian kindness, rich in blessings to the humble negro; most
precious to that young disciple of Christ, who had learned to love to
be “about her Master’s business.”



X.

Strange Proceedings.


Day after day Rose Stuyvesant continued her ministry of love to Daph
and the little ones. The hour of her morning visit was watched for, and
hailed with joy, and well it might be, for she brought with her the
sweet influence of a loving heart and an earnest devoted spirit.

The children were, as usual, eagerly looking out for her one morning,
about a week after her first appearance in their humble home. Daph, who
was once more on her feet, was moving about with a step a little more
languid than usual, trying, as she said, “to make the place look a bit
more fitsome for the sweet young lady to sit down in.” Charlie, who
was perched on a chair beside his sister, and had had his nose pressed
from time to time flat against the window, and had drawn all sorts of
strange characters, with his fat fingers, in the dampness left by his
breath on the pane, at length had his attention suddenly arrested. “O,
Lou!” he shouted, “look this way, on the steps! there’s that ugly, old,
bad doctor, that cut dear Daffy’s arm, and two big men with him.”

“Good doctor, Charlie!” said Daph, “he wanted to make Daffy well, but
he didn’t jus know how. It took Miss Rose wid her sweet holy words to
do Daph good.”

“He’s an old, bad doctor, I say, and shan’t come in!” said Charlie,
springing towards the door, as the voice of the doctor sounded in the
hall, and his hand touched the latch. The sturdy little figure of the
boy, resolutely backed up against the door was but a small obstacle, in
the way of the strong hands that forced it instantly open.

“For shame, Mass’ Charlie! Let the young gemman in!” said Daph, as
she came forward, dropping a curtsy. “Ise quite well sir to day,” she
continued, “and Ise mighty tankful for you being so uncommon willing
to do somewhat for to cure Daph, for by her arm do be a little stiff
for de cuttin you gib it de oder day.”

“He’s an old, bad man to hurt Daffy, and I aint glad to see him a bit,”
said Charlie, with an angry look.

“Do your work! This is the woman!” said the slender young doctor,
turning to the stout men he had brought with him.

A strong hand was laid on each shoulder of the astonished Daph, and a
rough voice said, “Come with us, old woman!”

“I isn’t goin to do no such thing,” said she, with an indignant
glance. “What for is I goin to waste my time goin with them as I has
no business wid? Perhaps you doesn’t know what manners is, to be layin
hands on a poor nigger dis way. Take your big hands off! Ise my misses’
childen to look after, and we’s would be glad to hab dis bit of a room
to ourselves!”

Daph had not spoken very rapidly, but even as the indignant words
forced themselves out of her mouth, she was hurried towards the door.

“You’d better do your talking now,” said one of the men coarsely, “for
before half an hour’s over you’ll be locked up where nobody’ll hear you
if you holler till you are hoarse.”

Daph began to struggle violently, and the sinewy men who held her were
well nigh compelled to relinquish their grasp.

“Is you a gemman, doctor?” she said desperately, at last, “Is you a
gemman, and stand still to see a poor woman treated dis way?”

“You are only getting your deserts,” said little Dr. Bates, drawing
himself up, and trying to look dignified. “You are to be tried for
stealing, and for the other awful crimes which your own conscience can
best count over to you, and be sure the severest punishment of the law
awaits you!”

“Is that all?” said Daph, her spirit rising, “Carry me to any real
gemman, and it would take more liars than ever grew to prove any such
like things against poor Daph. Ise not a bit afeared to go wid you, for
sartain Ise be back soon ’nough.”

The children, who had been at first struck with silent astonishment,
now began to realize that Daph was actually going from them. Louise
burst into a violent fit of weeping, and clung to the unfortunate
negro, while Charlie, with an uplifted wash-basin, made a sudden attack
upon the slender legs of Dr. Bates, which broke up his dignified
composure, and made him give a skip that would have done honor to a
bear dancing on a hot iron plate.

“Now, Mass’ Charley, Ise do be shamed,” said Daph, subduing the grin
that had suddenly overspread her face. “De young gemman don’t know no
better! ’Tain’t likely he ever had body to teach him! You jus let him
be, Mass’ Charlie, and tend to your own sister, Miss Lou, here. Don’t
cry, pretty dear, Daph will be back soon! De Lord won’t let em hurt
Daph! You be jus good childen, and dat sweet Miss Rose will comfort you
till Daph comes home.”

The last words were hardly uttered, when the negro was forced into a
long covered wagon and rapidly borne away from the door.

At this moment Mary Ray ran breathlessly up the steps, exclaiming,
“Where have they taken Daph, mother? Mother, what is the matter?”

“Matter enough!” said Mrs. Ray, vehemently; “who could have told it
would have ended that way! I am sure I never meant any such thing.
Daph’s gone to prison; and just as likely I shall never hear the end of
it, and have the children upon my hands, into the bargain. Well, well;
I wish I’d never set eyes on that little spinky, Dr. Bates!”

The bitter reproaches that rose to Mary’s lips, were hushed at the
mention of the children; and she hastened to comfort them, as well as
she could, while Mrs. Ray went back to her kitchen, in no very enviable
frame of mind.



XI.

Another Friend.


“Dis don’t be de cleanest place in de world!” said Daph to herself, as
she looked round the small, bare room into which she had been thrust.
“Well,” she continued, “de Lord Jesus, do be everywhere; and Daph no
reason to be above stayin where such as he do set foot. But den de
childen! what’s to become of de childen?”

Here Daph’s resolution gave way, and she took a hearty cry. “Daph, you
do be a wicked creter,” she said to herself, at length. “Jus as if de
Lord Jesus didn’t love little childen ebber so much better dan you can!
He’s jus able hisself to take care ob de dears; and Daph needn’t go for
to fret hersef bout dem.”

Thus consoled, Daph was prepared calmly to wait whatever should befall
her. The stream of sunlight that poured through the small window,
slowly crept along the floor, and the weary hours passed away.

The new and beautiful truths, that had of late been brought home to the
soul of Daph, were much in her thoughts and full of comfort.

“I do be afraid,” she said to herself, “Ise did not act so bery
Christianable, when dose big men did catch Daph by de shoulter. Dere’s
somewhat in Daph mighty strong, dat don’t like folks puttin hands on
widout tellin what’s de matter. Well, well; I spose Daph will get like
a lamb, sometime, if de Lord helps her. Ise do wonder what the dears
is a doin, jus now. Maybe that sweet Miss Rose is just speakin to dem
beautiful words out ob de blessed book. How Daph would like to hear
dose same words, her own self!”

Daph’s meditations were interrupted by the sudden turning of the key in
the lock, and then the door of the small room was thrown open to admit
the entrance of a stranger.

The new-comer was a short, stout, elderly man, with a dignified
bearing, and a calm, kindly expression in his round unfurrowed face.

Daph looked at him from his powdered head, to his white-topped boots,
with entire satisfaction. “He do be a _real gemman_, and dat ’s a
comfort,” she said to herself, as she dropped a curtsy, and waited to
be addressed by the stranger.

Daph’s favorable impressions were increased by the mild manner and
clear voice in which she was addressed. She soon felt sufficiently at
ease to comply with the request made by the gentleman, that she would
tell him, frankly, all that she could remember of her life for the
last few years, and explain how she, a poor negro, came in possession
of jewelry fit for a duchess to wear.

Daph began in her own simple way, and described those pleasant home
scenes on that far Southern island. Her heart grew light at the thought
of the happy family circle in those good old times. It was with
difficulty she brought herself to speak of the sudden destruction with
which that home was threatened. She touched but lightly on her own
efforts to save the little ones, when there was no earthly friend, but
herself, between them and a bloody death.

From time to time her listener questioned her suddenly; but she
answered him with such apparent frankness and simplicity, that he felt
ashamed of the momentary suspicions that had crossed his mind.

When Daph came, in the progress of her story, to the captain’s late
visit, and to the day of dark, hopeless despair that followed it, the
eyes that were fixed upon her, slowly filled with tears.

Those tears suddenly gushed forth, as with the eloquence of a grateful
heart Daph described the face, like that of an angel, that bent over
her in her distress, and told of the Saviour, who is the friend of the
sinner, and the comfort of all that mourn.

“God bless my sweet Rose!” murmured the stranger. “This was an errand
of mercy, indeed!” After a moment’s pause, he added aloud, “You need
say no more, Daph;” and, as he spoke, he put out his hand to take that
of the humble negro.

She did not notice the movement; for she had lowered her eyes as she
dropped her modest curtsy, and relapsed into silence.

Diedrich Stuyvesant loved his daughter Rose, as the apple of his eye;
but he thought her a little too enthusiastic in her desire to do good;
and he trembled, lest her warm feelings should lead her judgment astray.

When she had burst into his library that morning, her face flushed
with excitement and unwonted exercise, he had met her with more than
his usual calmness and phlegmatic consideration. The hasty outline
she gave him of the story of her new protegé, seemed to him strange
and improbable; but he could not resist the earnestness with which
she besought him to hasten to the release of an innocent and injured
woman. Rose felt a little relieved when she saw her father take his
gold-headed cane and walk forth, with the deliberate air of one who has
important business on hand. She would gladly have hurried his steps;
but she knew, that, though slow and cautious, whatever he undertook
would be kindly and wisely done, and in this belief she forced herself
to wait patiently for his long-delayed return.

Good Diedrich Stuyvesant did not go directly to the prison, as his
daughter had advised. He first called on Dr. Bates, heard his pompous
statement of the grounds of his suspicions, and received from him the
troublesome gold chain, that was deemed of such importance.

Having agreed to meet the little doctor at a certain hour, at the
place of Daph’s imprisonment, he proceeded to the red house with the
blue shutters, and inquired for Mrs. Ray. That personage was thrown
into a fit of mortification to be found by so grand a gentleman in a
dishabille, plainly intimating its recent proximity to the wash-tub;
and her curiosity alone prevented her absolutely refusing to be seen in
such a plight.

It did not take Diedrich Stuyvesant many minutes to fathom Mrs. Ray,
and to give to her mean and idle curiosity the contempt that even she
herself felt that it deserved. “All accoutred as she was,” she found
herself obliged to accompany her new acquaintance to the prison,
where she and Dr. Bates occupied a room near that in which Daph had
been placed, while Diedrich Stuyvesant proceeded to converse with
the prisoner. The time seemed long to the little doctor; for he had
the full benefit of all the vituperative epithets in Mrs. Ray’s
vocabulary, which was by no means a limited one in that department.
On him she vented all the dissatisfaction she felt at having been led
“into,” as she exclaimed, “the worst, the very worst piece of business
I ever put my finger in!”

Daph had completed her story and was standing silent and humble, when
Diedrich Stuyvesant summoned Dr. Bates and Mrs. Ray.

The Dr., small in every respect, entered with an air of triumph, while
Mrs. Ray followed; pity, self-reproach and curiosity strangely blending
in the expression with which she looked upon her lodger.

Daph met their glance with quiet composure. In her heart she had been
giving thanks to the merciful God, who had raised up for her a new and
powerful friend, and fresh from the presence of her Divine Master,
she could look on those who had injured her, without one taint of
bitterness.

Diedrich Stuyvesant had spoken often in the councils of his country,
and to his clear, calm voice, none had failed to listen, for he ever
spoke with the power of reason and truth. Now, he stood with the
dignity of one accustomed to be heard, as he looked for a moment in
silence on the accusers. Then, in a short, clear statement, he told the
story of the humble negro, who listened with wonder, as he named with
admiration and respect the acts which she had performed, guided by her
own loving heart, and upheld by simple faith in “the great Lord” of all.

Sternness and contempt struggled for mastery in the voice of Diedrich
Stuyvesant, as in concluding, he turned towards Dr. Bates, and said,
“As for you, young man, look at that dark-skinned, ignorant woman,
from whom you would have lightly taken her only wealth,--her good
name,--which is above all price!”

“Think of your own fair skin, you deem so superior,--of the education
you rightly value,--the Christian teaching that has been sounded in
your ears since childhood, and then say what good work you have done
in this world! What have you to bring forward in comparison with the
heroism and self-sacrifice of this poor woman, whom you despised? Young
man, think twice, if you are capable of thought, before you again peril
the good name of the industrious poor, who are under the especial care
of the great Father in Heaven! Explore the secrets of your profession,
but honor the sanctity of every humble home, and pry not into those
things which a lawful pride and an honorable delicacy would hide from
the eye of a stranger. Know, young man, that you have this day broken
the laws of this free country, where no honest citizen can be deprived
of liberty, on bare suspicion, and you yourself merit the punishment
you would have brought on the guiltless. But go! I would do you no
harm. Go, and be a wiser and better man for what you have heard to-day!”

Dr. Bates, with a crest-fallen air, turned in haste to leave the room,
but his better feelings prevailed, and stepping back he said, “I am
young, foolish, and conceited, I know, sir, and I hope I have learned a
valuable lesson this day.” Then, going up to Daph, he added earnestly,
“I have wronged you, good woman, and from the bottom of my heart I am
sorry for it. If it should ever be in my power to serve you, I should
be glad to make amends for what I have done.” “Now don’t, sir! don’t,
please!” said Daph, dropping curtsy after curtsy, and murmuring, “the
young gemman meant no harm, Ise sure,” while Dr. Bates slowly left the
room. As soon as the doctor was out of sight, Mrs. Ray took Daph by the
hand, and humbly asked her forgiveness.

“Now don’t, Miss’ Ray, I do be shamed!” said Daph, in great confusion,
her own tears for the first time beginning to flow. “Don’t speak so
to a poor cretur like me. We’s all poor sinners; it’s only the Lord
Jesus,” sweet Miss Rose says, “that can make us clean.” The thought of
having said so much in the presence of a “real gentleman” now overcame
Daph, and she suddenly relapsed into silence.

“Come, Daph!” said Diedrich Stuyvesant, “it is time for you to be out
of this place.”

“May I go free, sir?” said Daph, with a wondering, joyous look.

“Free as air!” was the reply of Mr. Stuyvesant; “there’s no power in
New York can keep an innocent woman in such a place as this.”

Daph poured forth her thanks to her deliverer, and Diedrich Stuyvesant
walked forth, followed by the woman.

He was detained but for a moment in the doorway by the officers, by
whom Daph had been arrested, who pleaded that no action should be
taken against them for their unwarrantable proceeding, and were glad to
be assured that their fault, for this once, would be passed over.

It excited some wonder when the well-known citizen passed along the
street, closely followed by Mrs. Ray and Daph; but he cared little for
the remarks of the passers-by, his mind having been once made up to
see Daph safely restored to the home from which she had been so rudely
taken.

Diedrich Stuyvesant moved at what was an unwonted pace for him, and
the house with the blue shutters was soon reached, and the door of the
familiar room thrown open.

Rose Stuyvesant was sitting on a low chair, Louise at her side, and
Charlie on her lap; while the book with golden clasps was open in her
hand. With one shout of joy, the children darted towards Daph, and gave
her a welcome which filled her honest heart with joy.

That sight was a reward to Diedrich Stuyvesant for all the unwonted
labors of the day.

“Come, Rose!” he said, “they can do without us now. I must learn to
know these little people some other day. But stay,” he added, as he
looked round on the scrupulously neat, but very plainly furnished
apartment, “Daph, I must speak to you a moment, before I go.”

The children for an instant were quiet, and the wealthy citizen drew
his purse from his pocket, and holding it towards Daph, he said, “You
ought to have something to make amends for this day’s trouble. Take
that for you and the children.”

“Ise thank you, sir,” said Daph, drawing back, “Ise thank you, sir, but
my missus’ childen shall want for nothing while poor old Daph can work
for them.”

“Well, have your own way Daph,” said Diedrich Stuyvesant; “but one
thing you must let me do for you. Let me take the gold chains that have
given you so much trouble, and put them in safe keeping. I will see
that you get their full value in money, if you should ever be in need.”

The treasured jewelry was cheerfully relinquished; and Daph even felt
relieved to have them no longer in her charge.

“Remember, Daph,” said the kind-hearted citizen, as he bade her
good-bye, “remember, you have something now to depend upon.”

“Ise thank you for your goodness, sir--Ise thank you. Ise sure the
great Lord will nebber let Daph come to want.”

“Never, Daph! either in this world or the next!” said Rose; and with
one of her sweet smiles she followed her father from the room.



XII.

Home Scenes.


The days of excitement and distress, so full of moment to Daph, were
succeeded by a time of comparative quiet and peace.

Every morning the kind voice of Rose Stuyvesant, broke in upon the
solitude of Daph and the little ones. Louise learned to look as
eagerly for the face of Rose as a flower for the sunlight, and to
turn as fondly towards it. There seemed to be for the little girl an
irresistible charm in the refinement and guilelessness of her new
friend; and the sweet words of holy teaching, that ever dropped from
the lips of Rose, had waked to music, a chord in the child’s heart,
that had long slumbered in silence. The sensitive conscience and
peculiar interest in spiritual things, that had marked her when under
her mother’s influence, became again evident. As from a weary dream,
she woke to the beauty and reality of religious truth.

Rose was no sentimental teacher, contented with exciting mere feeling,
that worked to no good end.

The unselfish devotion and respectful deference of poor Daph, had
fostered a slight imperiousness in the little Louise; and she had
learned to seek her own comfort, with but too little regard for the
feelings and wishes of others.

Rose soon saw that her little pet was in danger of becoming quietly
selfish, and unconsciously proud and dictatorial.

Tenderly, but faithfully, the young teacher pointed out to Louise the
germs of those hateful faults, growing and strengthening in the bad
soil of an evil heart; and the conscience of the child, made her deeply
feel the necessity of the warning thus affectionately given.

Bad habits, long indulged, are not easily overcome, even when the
highest and best motives govern the conduct.

“Put on my stockings, this minute, Daph! You are so slow!” said Louise,
one morning, putting out her white foot imperatively towards the
kneeling negro.

“Yes, yes, Miss Lou,” said Daph, humbly, “Daph do be radder slow; but
somehow she isn’t so spry as she used to be.”

This was not the only complaint that Louise had to make that morning;
every thing seemed to go wrong with her, and Charlie declared, “Sister
Lou” was so cross that he had rather go and play in the garden alone,
than stay anywhere near her.

Daph gave a sorrowful look at her young mistress, and then went to the
kitchen to prepare some of the tempting cakes which were now in such
demand, and Louise was left quite alone.

She took up a piece of sewing on which Rose had been patiently trying
to teach her to hem; but the thread “went in knots,” the needle pricked
her finger, and she threw the work down in despair, and began to cry
with all her might.

The door softly opened and a gentle hand was laid upon her shoulder.
“What grieves you, darling?” said the sweet voice of Rose Stuyvesant.

“Oh, oh!” exclaimed the little girl, not looking up, “I have been so
cross and naughty all this morning, I do not believe I am one of the
Lord Jesus’ little lambs, at all, and I am very, very unhappy!”

Rose sat down beside her little friend, and throwing her arm tenderly
around her, she said, “You must not be discouraged, my darling,
listen now to me. Suppose that you were so very sick, that if you
did not soon get better, you would surely die. Now, suppose a kind
physician should come to you and offer you some medicine that would
check your fever, and save you from the death that was so near. How you
would love him, and how willingly you would do all that he said was
necessary for you. It might be many, many weeks before you were quite
well; but how patiently you would take the medicines he ordered, and
how cheerfully you would follow his advice, until you were again full
of health and strength. And when you could walk about once more and
breathe the sweet, fresh air, then you would be most warmly grateful to
the kind physician who had come to your sick bed, and saved you from
expected death. Dear Louise, Christ has shed his blood to save you
from everlasting death, which is very near to all who are not the true
children of God. Whenever you put your trust in the dear Saviour, you
are safe from that death; but it may be long, long before your heart
will be clean from sin, and your bad habits will be wholly cured. What
says the kind physician to you? ‘Watch and pray. Strive to enter in at
the strait gate.’ You must be willing to struggle, patiently, against
your faults, trying to do right, and looking to God for strength to
go on. You must go forward cheerfully and hopefully, thinking of what
Christ has done for you, and dwelling on that happy time when you will
be safe in Heaven, and your heart will be full of gratitude to Him who
has saved your soul from death, and purified you by His grace. Do you
understand me, darling?”

“Yes, yes,” sobbed little Louise, “and indeed I will try--try harder.”

“Suppose you begin to-day,” said Rose, “to see if you cannot do
something for others; that is the best cure for selfishness. Here,
I have brought an apron for Daph, which I want you to make. It will
please her to think you have done it for her. She is so kind to you,
that you should try to make her happy.”

Louise had always accepted Daph’s services as a matter of course, and
it dawned upon her as a new idea that she was to try to make happy
the humble creature who never seemed to have a wish but to serve her
master’s children faithfully.

Little by little, Louise began to take hold of the idea that to be
Christ-like is to be useful, fond of making others happy, and forgetful
of self.

Daph resisted stoutly when Louise first proposed to dress herself, and
began by degrees to take some care of Charlie. “But,” thought the poor
negro, “Daph may die some day, and the sweet little mistress do be
right; she must learn to help herself a little, for nobody knows what
may happen.”

“Here Daffy, I have made this for you all myself!” said Louise,
joyfully, as she held up the apron, which after many days of secret
toil she had completed.

“For Daph, Miss Lou! and all made with those dear little hands. Now
Daph do feel proud!” and tears filled the eyes of the honest creature.

It was not the mere gift that made the heart of the negro throb with
pleasure; but it was the kind consideration, the patient thought for
her welfare that overcame her, as she said, “You do be like dear missus
now! Dat’s de way she used to speak to poor Daph.”

“Dear Daffy,” said Louise, bursting into tears, “I do not mean to be
ever naughty to you again. Indeed, I am very, very sorry. I am going
to be one of the Lord Jesus’ little children now, and you know he was
always kind and gentle.”

“Now de great Lord be praised!” said Daph, as she sank down quite
overcome. “Daph do be too full of joy, to hear dose words from her own
little dear. De Lord help her, and bring her to his beautiful home!”

To be able to read her mother’s Bible now became the dearest wish of
the little Louise, and with this strong motive she made rapid progress
in the daily lessons she took from her kind friend Rose. The patience
and perseverance of both teacher and scholar were at length rewarded.
Louise was able, after a few months of careful instruction, to take her
mother’s Bible, and, in her sweet, childlike way, read the words of
truth and beauty that flowed from the lips of Him who “spake as never
man spake.”

The leaves, brightened by early frosts, still fluttered on the trees,
and the soft air of Indian summer floated in at the open windows. A
lovely autumn day was drawing to a close. Daph and her little charge
had taken their simple evening meal, and for a moment there was silence
in the cheerful room.

“Daffy,” said Louise, “I will read to you now out of the dear book.”

Daph sat down reverently on her low bench, and Charlie, in imitation,
quietly took his own little chair.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” read the subdued voice
of the child, while the negro bent forward to catch each word of the
beautiful psalm.

“She do be one of the great shepherd’s lambs, sure ’nough,” murmured
Daph, as the little girl closed the book and said,

“Now Daffy, we’ll sing a hymn.”

Little Charlie joined his voice with that of his earnest sister, and
poor Daph, ’mid fast flowing tears, added her notes of praise to that
evening hymn. Joy and peace that evening pervaded those few hearts in
that humble room, for it was bright with His presence who has said,
“Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the
midst of them.”



XIII.

Mary Ray.


It was midnight. Charlie and Louise were locked in the sound sleep of
youth and vigorous health; but Daph, with the half-wakefulness of a
faithful dog, was not so dead to the outer world.

A slight knock, and then a stealthy footstep, roused the negro, and
she started up and looked about her. In the dim moonlight she saw Mary
Ray standing at her bedside, with her finger on her lips, and herself
setting the example in every motionless limb, of the silence she
imposed.

Mary took Daph by the hand, and led her into the hall, and then said
in a whisper,

“I could not go without bidding you good-bye, you have always been so
kind to me?”

Daph looked in wonder at the slender young girl, wrapped in her shawl,
and carrying a small bundle in her hand.

“Where is you going, Mary?” she said, anxiously; “it’s no good is
takin’ you from home at this time of night.”

“I can bear it no longer,” said Mary, with quiet determination; “I
have never had a home, and now I am going to look for one for myself.
Mother may find out that, if I am ‘only a girl,’ she will miss me.
Good-bye, Daph. I should like to kiss the children once more, but I am
afraid I should wake them. Good-bye!” and the young girl shook the hand
of her humble friend.

The hand she had given was not so easily released; it was held gently
but firmly as if in a vice.

“Ise wont let you go--go straight to black sin,” said Daph, earnestly;
“you’s a leavin’ the mother the great Lord gave you; you’s a leavin’
the home the great Lord put you in, and there’s black sin a waitin’
outside for you, if you go so young and lone; Ise will not let you go!”

“I cannot bear it any longer,” said Mary, and she sank down on the
floor, and wiped away her fast-flowing tears.

Mary had of late had a hard life, indeed. Mrs. Ray had been slowly
coming to a knowledge of herself, and this knowledge, instead of
bringing repentance and reformation, had made her doubly unreasonable
and irritable, and on Mary she had vented all her ill-humor.

Though still treated as a child, Mary had become, in feeling
and strength of character, a woman. The sense of injustice and
ill-treatment, which had grown with her growth, had now reached its
height. The down-trodden child, now felt herself a curbed, thwarted,
almost persecuted woman, and she was determined to bear her present
life no longer.

It was in vain that Daph plead with her to give up her wild purpose;
at last all the poor negro’s store of persuasion and warning was
exhausted, and in her despair, she said desperately, “Now you Mary jus
sit still here, and let Daph tell you somewhat dat do be all solemn
true, ebery single word.” Daph had been no inattentive listener to
Rose’s frequent reading of the Saviour’s life on earth; and now, in her
own simple, graphic language, she sketched the outline of his patient
suffering, and painful, unresisted death. She told of the glory of His
heaven, where those who humbly follow Him, shall rejoice forever; and
the speaker and the listener forgot the dreary place and the midnight
hour, as she dwelt in faith on that glorious theme. “Dere’ll be nobody
dere, Mary, dat turns de back on de work de Lord gibs em to do!” said
Daph, earnestly. “Stay, Mary, and try to bear for de Lord Jesus’ sake!
Who knows but your poor ma, her own self, may learn to know bout de
heavenly home?”

“Every human heart has its trials, which it can only bear in the
strength that God alone can give. Every human heart feels the need of
comfort and hope, which can only be found in God’s truth.”

Mary Ray was touched by the simple eloquence of her humble friend, and
acted upon by the glorious motives held out to her for new efforts of
forbearance and patient endurance.

The world she had known was dreary and dismal enough; but what terrors,
trials, and temptations might not await her in the new scenes into
which she was hastily rushing. Subdued and softened, she crept back
to her bed, and lay down beside the mother whom she had so nearly
forsaken. Compared with the wide, lone world without, that poor, low
room seemed a kindly and comfortable shelter; and as her mother sighed
and groaned in her sleep, Mary felt that natural affection was not yet
dead in her heart--that a tie bound her to her on whose bosom she had
been nursed.

True prayer was at that moment going up to heaven for the poor, tried,
desperate girl. And what faithful petition was ever unnoticed or
unanswered!

Mary met Daph’s kind “good morning,” with a shy, averted face, and kept
out of her way as much as possible during the day.

When evening came on and the sound of singing was heard in the room of
the lodgers. Mary lingered at the open door, and did not resist when
Daph noiselessly stepped to her side and drew her to the low bench
where she herself was seated.

Mary Ray learned to love that evening hour when she could hear Louise
read of the blessed Saviour, and join her voice in the hymns of praise,
that went up from the faithful worshippers.

Even this pleasure she was soon obliged to deny herself; for all her
time and attention were needed beside the sick bed of her mother.

Mrs. Ray had never wholly recovered from the severe cold with which she
had been attacked soon after the arrival of Daph. At times, her cough
returned upon her with violence, and at length a sudden hemorrhage laid
her low. Prostrate, enfeebled and helpless, Mrs. Ray had time to dwell
upon her past life, and see all too plainly, the hatefulness of her own
wicked heart. A dull despair crept over her. She gave herself up as a
lost and hopeless being, waiting for her eternal doom. Daph felt her
own incapacity to reason with, and comfort the wretched woman, and to
Rose she turned for aid and counsel.

Often and long Rose Stuyvesant sat beside the bed of the unhappy woman,
and strove to open her mind to the free forgiveness, granted through
the blood of Christ Jesus. Her words of peace seemed to fall on a deaf
ear and a deadened heart; but to the listening, unnoticed Mary, they
were the message of pardon and joy in believing.

Long years of humbling sickness were in store for Mrs. Ray, during
which she was to be dependent for care and sustenance upon the child
she had undervalued and ill-treated. From that child to whom she had
given life, she was to receive the still greater blessing of being
gently led towards the life eternal.

Mary’s days and nights of watching, and words of holy comfort, fell
like the noiseless dew on the heart of the mother, till at last,
remorse was exchanged for repentance, and the cold alienation of a
sinful heart, for the loving trust of one, forgiven through the “Only
Mediator.”

Meanwhile, Daph went cheerfully and industriously on, providing for
the physical wants of the children so dear to her; while Rose, with
almost a mother’s love, led them in the way of truth and moulded them
by her sweet influence. Little by little she managed to throw an air
of refinement about the humble room where they dwelt, and to add many
comforts and luxuries to their hitherto simple way of life. She advised
Daph as to their plain but tasteful style of dress, and gave to their
manners that nameless charm of delicacy and true politeness, which Daph
felt herself so unable to describe, or impart.

While Louise grew tall, graceful and attractive, and Charlie’s ruddy
face was bright with frank cheerfulness, Rose fancied that Daph’s step
waxed feeble, and her figure less straight than in the first days of
their acquaintance.

When Rose expressed anxiety about the health of the poor negro, to whom
she was really strongly attached, Daph would answer with a smile:

“Daph do be a bit older, Miss Rose; but nebber you fret for her. De
great Lord wont take her away yet, she most sure. Nebber you mind Daph;
she do be well enough--and oh, so happy!”

The upward glance of the eye of honest Daph, told of the source of her
happiness, and the spring of her faithful, conscientious life.



XIV.

The Basket Overturned.


“Good-bye, dears!” said Daph, as she went forth as usual one morning,
with her basket on her head.

“Good-bye, Daffy, dear Daffy!” said the young voices, and she was gone.

Those sweet sounds lingered in the ear of the negro, as she walked
along the crowded street, unconscious of all around her, and lost in
meditation on the many mercies of her lot.

The passers-by noticed her frank, good face, her tidy figure, and
snow-white apron; but she seemed to see no one, until, as if struck
with sudden frenzy, she gave one leap into the air, exclaiming,

“Is I in a blessed dream!”

The neat cover flew from the passing basket; far and wide rolled the
frosted cakes, and little ragged children made merry with the stores
of Daph’s cookery. Little did she care. Her arms were thrown round the
knees of an astonished lady, and her lips kissed the hand of the tall,
pale gentleman at the lady’s side.

“Pull off the crazy woman!” shouted a bystander, stepping forward to
suit the action to the word; but Daph had found a protector, in the
confidence of whose kindness she would have faced the world.

“My own missus! my massa!” sobbed the poor negro, as she clung to the
loved and long-mourned friends who stood before her.

“Is it you, Daph!” they said, as, little less moved than herself, they
raised her from her humble position.

“Ise got ’em! Ise got ’em!” she exclaimed. “De childen! Dey’s safe! Ise
got ’em! De Lord be praised!”

Who can tell the throb of joy that shook that mother’s heart, or the
deep emotion that filled the eyes of the strong man with gushing tears!

They needed not to tell Daph to lead the way to their treasures. On
she sped through street and lane, followed by hurrying footsteps and
beating hearts.

The small house with the blue shutters was reached, the threshold was
crossed! A moment the mother paused, as if to gather strength for the
meeting, and then the door was thrown open.

In that simple, neat room, sat the fair Louise, her bit of sewing in
her hand, while beside her Charlie bent over the book he was reading
aloud to his sister.

The wondering children were clasped in their mother’s arms, and
received their father’s loving embrace; while Daph, almost wild with
joy, kept repeating, “You’s no more lone orphans, with only poor old
Daph to mind you! De Lord be praised! Daph’s work is done. She be ready
to go now, when it pleases de Lord Jesus!”

How those parents rejoiced to have their lost ones restored, sound in
health, and bearing every evidence of having been trained to habits
of neatness, and nurtured in delicacy and refinement! This was joy,
indeed; but who shall describe the gladness of the mother when she
found her children speaking of the Saviour as a familiar friend, and
bearing, however faintly, his image in their hearts! Such joy angels
know, when they welcome at the gate of heaven the weary pilgrim of
earth, and usher him into the eternal home of the Father!

Daph listened with wondering eyes and grateful heart to the story of
their escape, whom she had so long mourned, and whose place she had so
striven to fill.

The coachman, who was pledged to murder his master and mistress,
relented, and resolved to save them from the ruin with which they were
threatened.

Gen. Latourette’s first suspicion of danger was roused by finding that
they had been driven in the wrong direction, while he in careless
confidence had been chatting with his wife. In the moonlight, he could
see the flashing of the waves and hear the murmur of the waters, and
jet he knew he was not near his home, but at some less familiar part of
the coast.

Calling out hastily to the coachman, the carriage came to a stand;
General Latourette became aware that the horses had been cut loose, and
he saw the fellow, pistol in hand, seated upon one of them.

In a few hurried words the negro told the danger of the moment, and
pointed to a boat at the water-side, which offered to his master and
mistress some hope of escape.

Did Mrs. Latourette forget her little ones in that hour of peril? No!
She pleaded to go to them, if but to mingle her blood with theirs. The
negro assured her they were already sleeping the sleep of death, and
implored her to fly with her husband, while yet their lives might be
saved.

Thus urged, they entered the little boat, and while the strong arm of
the husband sustained the drooping wife, and guided the little skiff
over the dark waters, the negro went his way, to show the contents of
the rifled trunks as proofs of the crime he had in reality shrunk from
committing.

Gen. Latourette and his wife reached a neighboring island in safety;
but exiled forever from their own dear home.

Sorrowful, as the childless only can be, the world seemed to them
suddenly robbed of its brightness; they could not have borne the
trials of their lot, but for the sustaining hand of the Father in
Heaven, in whom they had in the days of their prosperity learned to
trust.

Several years of foreign travel had in a measure recruited the failing
health of Gen. Latourette, and time had calmed the poignant grief of
his wife. They had come to New York, hoping once more to have a home of
their own, sorrowful though that home must be.

Bereaved and childless no more, with deep thankfulness they praised the
God of Heaven for his most unexpected mercies, and devoted themselves
anew to His service.

As for Daph, their gratitude to her knew no bounds, and they felt that,
for her faithful services, they could find no adequate reward on earth.



XV.

The End.


Gen. Latourette and his wife had once more a home of their own, made
bright by the smiles of their affectionate children.

At that home Rose Stuyvesant was received as a loved friend, and
made a sharer in the pure joy she had assisted in laying up for
the happy parents. There Diedrich Stuyvesant had been welcomed as
an honored guest, and there Captain Jones had seen, in the united
family, something which gave his kind heart more joy than did the
warm expressions of gratitude that were lavished upon him, or the
more substantial favors that were bestowed with no stinted hand on
the honest sailor. Even Mary Ray and her invalid suffering mother
experienced the cheering influence that flowed from that happy home,
and felt that, although their lodgers were gone, they had in them still
warm and powerful friends. In the midst of this grateful rejoicing was
Daph forgotten? No! Among the loved and honored, she was best loved
and most cared for. In the neat room assigned to her was clustered
every comfort that could smooth the declining years or cheer the
humble spirit of the faithful negro. She prized each token of loving
remembrance that made that room beautiful in her eyes; but dearest
to her was the Bible with the golden clasps, which lay on her table,
placed there by her mistress, with words which filled the heart of Daph
with tearful joy.

“Where is Daph this morning?” asked Gen. Latourette at the breakfast
table; “I did not see her dear old face in the hall, as I came down.”

“She is not awake yet,” said the wife; “I told the children they must
not rouse her. She must take her rest; her days of labor are over.”

“God grant that our work may be as well done!” said the father,
solemnly.

Later in the day, the children could not be kept from “just looking at
dear Daffy, even if she were asleep.”

The family party entered the quiet room.

The sunbeams shone across the floor with cheerful light; but they were
dark to the gaze of Daph, for she was beholding the unveiled glory of
the Sun of Righteousness. The voice of earthly affection could wake
her no more, for she had listened to the welcome of angels, and heard
the voice of her Saviour declare, “Well done, thou good and faithful
servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord!”



TRANSCRIBER’S NOTES:


  Text in italics is surrounded by underscores: _italics_.

  Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

  Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

  Some contractions are obviously intentionally separated and have been
    retained as such from the original, e.g. “shouldn’t” appears as
    “should n’t.”





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