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However, there is a chance of Harry being sold to a brother divine, who by way of serving his good Lord and righteous master, may let him out to preach, after the old way. Harry will then be serving his brother in brotherly faith; that is, he will be his brother’s property, very profitable, strong in the faith with his dear divine brother, to whom he will pay large tribute for the right to serve the same God.
Harry’s emotions-he has been struggling to suppress them-have got beyond his control; tears will now and then show themselves and course down his cheeks. “Never mind, my good folks! it is something to know that Jesus still guards us; still watches over us.” He speaks encouragingly to them. “The scourge of earth is man’s wrongs, the deathspring of injustice. We are made bearers of the burden; but that very burden will be our passport into a brighter, a juster world. Let us meekly bear it. Cheer up! arm yourselves with the spirit of the Lord; it will give you fortitude to live out the long journey of slave life. How we shall feel when, in heaven, we are brought face to face with master, before the Lord Judge. Our rights and his wrongs will then weigh in the balance of heavenly justice.” With these remarks, Harry counsels them to join him in prayer. He kneels on the brick pavement of the yard, clasps his hands together as they gather around him kneeling devotedly. Fervently he offers up a prayer,–he invokes the God of heaven to look down upon them, to bestow his mercy upon master, to incline his ways in the paths of good; and to protect these, his unfortunate children, and guide them through their separate wayfaring. The ardour, grotesqueness, and devotion of this poor forlorn group, are painfully touching. How it presents the portrait of an oppressed race! how sunk is the nature that has thus degraded it! Under the painful burden of their sorrow they yet manifest the purity of simple goodness. “Oh! Father in heaven, hast thou thus ordained it to be so?” breaks forth from Harry’s lips, as the criminals, moved by the affecting picture, gather upon the veranda, and stand attentive listeners. Their attention seems rivetted to his words; the more vicious, as he looks through grated bars upon them, whispers words of respect.
Harry has scarcely concluded his prayer when the sheriff, accompanied by several brokers (slave-dealers), comes rushing through the transept into the yard. The sheriff is not rude; he approaches Harry, tells him he is a good boy, has no objection to his praying, and hopes a good master will buy him. He will do all he can to further his interests, having heard a deal about his talents. He says this with good-natured measure, and proceeds to take a cursory view of the felons. While he is thus proceeding, the gentlemen of trade who accompanied him are putting “the property” through a series of examinations.
“Property like this ye don’t start up every day,” says one. “Best I’ze seen come from that ar’ district. Give ye plenty corn, down there, don’t they, boys?” enjoins another, walking among them, and every moment bringing the end of a small whip which he holds in his right hand about their legs. This, the gentleman remarks, is merely for the purpose-one of the phrases of the very honourable trade-of testing their nimbleness.
“Well!” replies a tall, lithe dealer, whose figure would seem to have been moulded for chasing hogs through the swamp, “There’s some good bits among it; but it won’t stand prime, as a lot!” The gentleman, who seems to have a nicely balanced mind for judging the human nature value of such things, is not quite sure that they have been bacon fed. He continues his learned remarks. “Ye’h han’t had full tuck out, I reckon, boys?” he inquires of them, deliberately examining the mouths and nostrils of several. The gentleman is very cool in this little matter of trade; it is an essential element of southern democracy; some say, nothing more!
“Yes, Boss!” replies Enoch, one of the negroes; “Mas’r ollers good t’ e niggers, gin him bacon free times a week-sometimes mo’ den dat.” Several voices chime in to affirm what Enoch says.
“Ah, very good. Few planters in that district give their negroes bacon; and an all corn-fed nigger won’t last two years on a sugar plantation,” remarks one of the gentlemen dealers, as he smokes his cigar with great nonchalance.
While these quaint appendancies of the trade are proceeding, Romescos and Graspum make their appearance. They have come to forestall opinion, to make a few side-winded remarks. They are ready to enter upon the disgusting business of examining property more carefully, more scrupulously, more in private. The honourable sheriff again joins the party. He orders that every accommodation be afforded the gentlemen in their examinations of the property. Men, women, and children-sorrowing property-are made to stand erect; to gesticulate their arms; to expand their chests, to jump about like jackals, and to perform sundry antics pleasing to the gentlemen lookers-on. This is all very free, very democratic, very gentlemanly in the way of trade,–very necessary to test the ingredient of the valuable square inches of the property. What matters all this! the honourable sheriff holds it no dishonour; modest gentlemen never blush at it; the coarse dealer makes it his study,–he trades in human nature; the happy democrat thinks it should have a co-fellowship with southern hospitality-so long and loudly boasted.
Those little necessary displays over, the honourable sheriff invites his distinguished friends to “have a cigar round;” having satisfied their taste in gymnastarising the property. Romescos, however, thinks he has not quite satisfied his feelings; he is very dogged on nigger flesh. The other gentlemen may smoke their cigars; Mr. Romescos thinks he will enjoy the exercise of his skill in testing the tenacity of negroes’ chests; which he does by administering heavy blows, which make them groan out now and then. Groans, however, don’t amount to much; they are only nigger groans. Again Mr. Romescos applies the full force of his hands upon their ears; then he will just pull them systematically. “Nice property!” he says, telling the forbearing creatures not to mind the pain.
Messrs. Graspum and Romescos will make a close inspection of a few pieces. Here, several men and women are led into a basement cell, under the veranda, and stript most rudely. No discrimination is permitted. Happy freedom! What a boon is liberty! Mr. Romescos views their nice firm bodies, and their ebony black skins, with great skill and precaution; his object is to prove the disposition of the articles,–strong evidence being absence of scars. He lays his bony fingers on their left shoulders-they being compelled to stand in a recumbent position-tracing their bodies to the hips and thighs. Here the process ends. Mr. Romescos has satisfied his very nice judgment on the solidity of the human-flesh-property-he has put their bodies through other disgusting inspections-they belong to the trade-which cannot be told here; but he finds clean skins, very smooth, without scars or cuts, or dangerous diseases. He laughs exultingly, orders the people to stow themselves in their clothes again, and relights his cigar. “If it ‘ant a tall lot!” he whispers to Graspum, and gives him a significant touch with his elbow. “Bright-smooth as a leather ninepence; han’t had a lash-Marston was a fool, or his niggers are angels, rather black, though-couldn’t start up a scar on their flesh. A little trimmin’ down-it wants it, you see!-to make it show off; must have it-eh! Graspum, old feller? It only wants a little, though, and them dandy niggers, and that slap-up preacher, will bring a smart price fixed up. Great institution! The preacher’s got knowin’; can discourse like a college-made deacon, and can convert a whole plantation with his nigger eloquence. A nigger preacher with Bible knowin, when it’s smart, is right valuable when ye want to keep the pious of a plantation straight. And then! when the preacher ‘ant got a notion a’ runnin away in him.” Romescos crooks his finger upon Graspum’s arm, whispers cautiously in his ear.
“There ‘ll be a sharp bidding for some of it; they ‘ll run up some on the preacher. He ‘ll be a capital investment,–pay more than thirty per cent. insinuates another gentleman-a small inquisitive looking dealer in articles of the nigger line. When a planter’s got a big gang a’ niggers, and is just fool enough to keep such a thing for the special purpose of making pious valuable in ‘um,” Mr. Romescos rejoins, shrugging his shoulders, rubbing his little hawk’s eyes, and looking seriously indifferent. Romescos gives wonderful evidence of his “first best cunning propensities;” and here he fancies he has pronounced an opinion that will be taken as profound. He affects heedlessness of everything, is quite disinterested, and, thrusting his hands deep into his pockets, assumes an air of dignity that would not unbecome my Lord Chief Justice.
“Let us see them two bits of disputed property,–where are they?” inquires Graspum, turning half round, and addressing himself to the gaoler.
“In the close cells,” is the quick reply,–“through the narrow vault, up the stone passage, and on the right, in the arched cell.”
The gaoler-good, honest-hearted man-leads the way, through a chilly vault, up the narrow passage, to the left wing of the building. The air is pestiferous; warm and diseased, it fans us as we approach. The gaoler puts his face to the grating, and in a guttural voice, says, “You’re wanted, young uns.” They understand the summons; they come forward as if released from torture to enjoy the pure air of heaven. Confinement, dreary and damp, has worn deep into their systems.
Annette speaks feebly, looks pale and sickly. Her flaxen curls still dangle prettily upon her shoulders. She expected her mother; that mother has not come. The picture seems strange; she looks childishly and vacantly round,–at the dealers, at Graspum, at the sheriff, at the familiar faces of the old plantation people. She recognizes Harry, and would fain leap into his arms. Nicholas, less moved by what is going on around him, hangs reluctantly behind, holding by the skirt of Annette’s frock. He has lost that vivacity and pertness so characteristic on the plantation. Happy picture of freedom’s love! Happy picture of immortalised injustice! Happy picture of everything that is unhappy! How modest is the boast that we live to be free; and that in our virtuous freedom a child’s mother has been sold for losing her mind: a faithful divine, strong with love for his fellow divines, is to be sold for his faith; the child-the daughter of the democrat-they say, will be sold from her democratic father. The death-stinging enemy Washington and Jefferson sought to slaughter-to lay ever dead at their feet, has risen to life again. Annette’s mother has fled to escape its poison. We must pause! we must not discourse thus in our day, when the sordid web of trade is being drawn over the land by King Cotton.
The children, like all such doubtful stock, are considered very fancy, very choice of their kind. It must be dressed in style to suit nice eyes at the shambles.
“Well! ye’r right interesting looking,” says the sheriff–Messrs. Graspum and Co. look upon them with great concern, now and then interrupting with some observations upon their pedigree,–taking them by the arms, and again rumpling their hair by rubbing his hands over their heads. “Fix it up, trim; we must put them up along with the rest to-day. It ‘ll make Marston–I pity the poor fellow–show his hand on the question of their freedom. Mr. sheriff, being sufficiently secured against harm, is quite indifferent about the latent phases of the suit. He remarks, with great legal logic–we mean legal slave logic–that Marston must object to the sale when the children are on the stand. It is very pretty kind a’ property, very like Marston–will be as handsome as pictures when they grow up,” he says, ordering it put back to be got ready.
“Why didn’t my mother come?” the child whimpers, dewy tears decorating her eyes. “Why won’t she come back and take me to the plantation again? I want her to come back; I’ve waited so long.” As she turns to follow the gaoler–Nicholas still holds her by the skirt of her frock–her flaxen curls again wave to and fro upon her shoulders, adding beauty to her childlike simplicity. “You’ll grow to be something, one of these days, won’t ye, little dear?” says the gaoler, taking her by the hand. She replies in those silent and touching arguments of the soul; she raises her soft blue eyes, and heaven fills them with tears, which she lifts her tiny hands to wipe away.
Nicholas tremblingly-he cannot understand the strange movement-follows them through the vault; he looks up submissively, and with instinctive sympathy commences a loud blubbering. “You’re going to be sold, little uns! but, don’t roar about it; there’s no use in that,” says the gaoler, inclining to sympathy.
Nicholas does’nt comprehend it; he looks up to Annette, plaintively, and, forgetting his own tears, says, in a whisper, “Don’t cry, Annette; they ‘ll let us go and see mother, and mother will be so kind to us-.”
“It does seem a pity to sell ye, young ‘uns; ye’r such nice ‘uns,–have so much interestin’ in yer little skins!” interrupts the gaoler, suddenly. The man of keys could unfold a strange history of misery, suffering, and death, if fear of popular opinion, illustrated in popular liberty, did not seal his lips. He admits the present to be
We are narrating a scene related to us by the very gaoler we here describe, and as nearly as possible in his own language. rather an uncommon case, says it makes a body feel kind a’ unhinged about the heart, which heart, however rocky at times, will have its own way when little children are sorrowing. “And then, to know their parents! that’s what tells deeper on a body’s feeling,–it makes a body look into the hereafter.” The man of keys and shackles would be a father, if the law did but let him. There is a monster power over him, a power he dreads-it is the power of unbending democracy, moved alone by fretful painstakers of their own freedom.
“Poor little things! ye ‘r most white, yes!-suddenly changing-just as white as white need be. Property’s property, though, all over the world. What’s sanctioned by the constitution, and protected by the spirit and wisdom of Congress, must be right, and maintained,” the gaoler concludes. His heart is at war with his head; but the head has the power, and he must protect the rights of an unrighteous system. They have arrived at a flight of steps, up which they ascend, and are soon lost in its windings. They are going to be dressed for the market.
The sheriff is in the yard, awaiting the preparation of the property. Even he-iron-hearted, they say-gives them a look of generous solicitude, as they pass out. He really feels there is a point, no less in the scale of slave dealing, beyond which there is something so repugnant that hell itself might frown upon it. “It’s a phase too hard, touches a body’s conscience,” he says, not observing Romescos at his elbow.
“Conscience!” interrupts Romescos, his eyes flashing like meteors of red fire, “the article don’t belong to the philosophy of our business. Establish conscience-let us, gentlemen, give way to our feelins, and trade in nigger property ‘d be deader than Chatham’s statue, what was pulled through our streets by the neck. The great obstacle, however, is only this-it is profitable in its way!” Romescos cautiously attempts to shield this, but it will not do.
The gaoler, protruding his head from a second-story window, like a mop in a rain storm, enquires if it is requisite to dress the children in their very best shine. It is evident he merely views them as two bales of merchandise.
The sheriff, angrily, says, “Yes! I told you that already. Make them look as bright as two new pins.” His honour has been contemplating how they will be mere pins in the market,–pins to bolt the doors of justice, pins to play men into Congress, pins to play men out of Congress, pins to play a President into the White House.
An old negress, one of the plantation nurses, is called into service. She commences the process of preparing them for market. They are nicely washed, dressed in clean clothes; they shine out as bright and white as anybody’s children. Their heads look so sleek, their hair is so nicely combed, so nicely parted, so nicely curled. The old slave loves them,–she loved their father. Her skill cheap air max 1 has been lavished upon them,–they look as choice and interesting as the human property of any democratic gentleman can be expected to do. Let us be patriotic, let us be law-loving, patient law-abiding citizens, loving that law of our free country which puts them under the man-vender’s hammer,–say our peace-abiding neighbours.
The gaoler has not been long in getting Annette and Nicholas ready. He brings them forward, so neatly and prettily dressed: he places them among the “gang.” But they are disputed property: hence all that ingenuity which the system engenders for the advancement of dealers is brought into use to defeat the attempt to assert their freedom. Romescos declares it no difficult matter to do this: he has the deadly weapon in his possession; he can work (shuffle) the debt into Graspu air max 1 m’s hands, and he can supply the proof to convict. By this very desirable arrangement the thing may be made nicely profitable.
No sooner has Aunt Rachel seen the children in their neat and familiar attire, than her feelings bound with joy,–she cannot longer restrain them. She has watched Marston’s moral delinquencies with suspicion; but she loves the children none the less. And with honest negro nature she runs to them, clasps them to her bosom, fondles them, and kisses them like a fond mother. The happy associations of the past, contrasted with their present unhappy condition, unbind the fountain of her solicitude,–she pours it upon them, warm and fervent. “Gwine t’ sell ye, too! Mas’r, poor old Mas’r, would’nt sell ye, no how! that he don’t. But poor old Boss hab ‘e trouble now, God bless ’em,” she says, again pressing nike air max 1 ebay Annette to her bosom, nearer and nearer, with fondest, simplest, holiest affection. Looking intently in the child’s face, she laughs with the bounding joy of her soul; then she smooths its hair with her brawny black hands: they contrast strangely with the pure carnatic of the child’s cheek.
“Lor! good Lor, Mas’r Buckra,” aunt Rachel exclaims, “if eber de Lor’ smote ‘e vengence on yeh, ‘t’ll be fo’ sellin’ de likes o’ dese. Old Mas’r tinks much on ’em, fo’ true. Gwine t’ sell dem what Mas’r be so fond on? Hard tellin’ what Buckra don’t sell win i’ makes money on him. Neber mind, children; de Lor’ aint so unsartin as white man. He,–da’h good Mas’r yonder in the clouds,–save ye yet; he’ll make white man gin ye back when de day o’ judgment come.” Aunt Rachel has an instincti nike air max 1 ve knowledge of the errors, accidents, and delays which have brought about this sad event,–she becomes absorbed in their cares, as she loses sight of her own trouble.
All ready for the market, they are chained together in pairs, men and women, as if the wrongs they bore had made them untrustworthy.
Romescos, ever employed in his favourite trade, is busily engaged chaining up-assorting the pairs! One by one they quietly submit to the proceeding, until he reaches Harry. That minister-of-the-gospel piece of property thinks,–that is, is foolish enough to think,–his nigger religion a sufficient guarantee against any inert propensity to run away. “Now, good master, save my hands from irons, and my heart from pain. Trust me, nike air max 1 grey let me go unbound; my old Master trust me wid ‘is life-”
“Halloo!” says Romescos, quickly interrupting, and beginning to bristle with rage; “preach about old Master here you’ll get the tinglers, I reckon. Put ’em on-not a grunt-or you’ll get thirty more-yes, a collar on yer neck.” Holding a heavy stick over the poor victim’s head, for several minutes with one hand, he rubs the other, clenched, several times across his nose. Graspum interposes by reminding the minister that it is for his interest to be very careful how he makes any reply to white gentlemen.
“Why, massa, I’ze the minister on de plantation. My old master wouldn’t sell-wouldn’t do so wid me. Master knows I love God, am honest and peaceable. Why chain the honest? why chain the peaceable? why chain the innocent? They need no fetters, no poisoning shackles. The guilty only fear the hand of retribution,” says Harry, a curl of contempt on his lip. He takes a step backwards as Romescos holds the heavy irons before him.
“You don’t come nigger preacher over this ar’ child nike air max 1 sale ; ‘t’ant what’s crack’d up to be. I larns niggers to preach different tunes. Don’t spoil prime stock for such nonsense-”
“Master Sheriff will stand answerable for me,” interrupts Harry, turning to that honourable functionary, and claiming his protection. That gentleman says it is rather out of his line to interfere.
“Not a preacher trick, I say again-Romescos evinces signs of increasing temper-ya’ black theologin. Preachers can’t put on such dignity when they’r property.” Preachers of colour must be doubly humbled: they must be humble before God, humbled before King Cotton, humbled before the king dealer, who will sell them for their dollars’ worth. Harry must do the bidding of his king master; his monkey tricks won’t shine with such a philosopher as Romescos. The man of bones, blood, and flesh, can tell him to sell a nigge cheap nike air max 1 r preacher to his brother of the ministry, and make it very profitable. He assures Harry, while holding the shackles in his hands, that he may put on just as much of the preacher as he can get, when he gets to the shambles, and hears the fives and tens bidding on his black hide.
Harry must submit; he does it with pain and reluctance. He is chained to his wife-a favour suggested by the sheriff-with whom he can walk the streets of a free country,–but they must be bound in freedom’s iron fellowship. The iron shackle clasps his wrist; the lock ticks as Romescos turns the key: it vibrates to his very heart. With a sigh he says, “Ours is a life of sorrow, streaming its dark way along a dangerous path. It will ebb into the bright and beautiful of heaven; that heaven wherein we put our trust-where our hopes are strengthened. O! co cheap air max 1 me the day when we shall be borne to the realms of joy-joy celestial! There no unholy shade of birth-unholy only to man-shall doom us; the colour of our skin will not there be our misfortune-”
“What!” quickly interrupts Romescos, “what’s that?” The property minister, thus circumstanced, must not show belligerent feelings. Romescos simply, but very skilfully, draws his club; measures him an unamiable blow on the head, fells him to the ground. The poor wretch struggles a few moments, raises his manacled hands to his face as his wife falls weeping upon his shuddering body. She supplicates mercy at the hands of the ruffian-the ruffian torturer. “Quietly, mas’r; my man ‘ill go wid me,” says the woman, interposing her hand to prevent a second blow.
Harry opens his eyes imploringly, casts a look of pity upon the man standing over nike air max 1 leopard him. Romescos is in the attitude of dealing him another blow. The wretch stays his hand. “Do with me as you please, master; you are over me. My hope will be my protector when your pleasure will have its reward.”
A second thought has struck Romescos; the nigger isn’t so bad, after all. “Well, reckon how nobody won’t have no objection to ya’r thinking just as ya’v mind to; but ya’ can’t talk ya’r own way, nor ya’ can’t have ya’r own way with this child. A nigger what puts on parson airs-if it is a progressive age nigger-musn’t put on fast notions to a white gentleman of my standing! If he does, we just take ’em out on him by the process of a small quantity of first- rate knockin down,” says Romescos, amiably lending him a hand to get up. Graspum and the honourable sheriff are measuredly pacing up and down the yard, talking ov nike air max 1 red er affairs of state, and the singular purity of their own southern democracy-that democracy which will surely elect the next President. Stepping aside in one of his sallies, Graspum, in a half whisper, reminds Romescos that, now the nigger has shown symptoms of disobedience, he had better prove the safety of the shackles. “Right! right! all right!” the man of chains responds; he had forgot this very necessary piece of amusement. He places both hands upon the shackles; grasps them firmly; places his left foot against Harry’s stomach; and then, uttering a fierce imprecation, makes his victim pull with might and main while he braces against him with full power. The victim, groaning under the pain, begs for mercy. Mercy was not made for him. Freedom and mercy, in this our land of greatness, have been betrayed.
Harry, made willi nike air max 1 ng property, is now placed by the side of his wife, as four small children–the youngest not more than two years old–cling at the skirts of her gown. The children are scarcely old enough to chain; their strong affections for poor chained mother and father are quite enough to guarantee against their running away. Romescos, in his ample kindness, will allow them to toddle their way to market. They are not dangerous property;–they have their feelings, and will go to market to be sold, without running away.
The gang is ready. The gaoler, nearly out of breath, congratulates himself upon the manner of dispatching business at his establishment. Romescos will put them through a few evolutions before marching in the street; so, placing himself at their right, and the gaoler at their left flank, they are made to march and counter-m nike air max 1 black arch several times round the yard. This done, the generous gaoler invites the gentlemen into his office: he has a good glass of whiskey waiting their superior tastes.
The ward gates are opened; the great gate is withdrawn; the property, linked in iron fellowship,–the gentlemen having taken their whiskey,–are all ready for the word, march! This significant admonition the sheriff gives, and the property sets off in solemn procession, like wanderers bound on a pilgrimage. Tramp, tramp, tramp, their footsteps fall in dull tones as they sally forth, in broken file, through the long aisles. Romescos is in high glee,–his feelings bound with exultation, he marches along, twirling a stick over his head. They are soon in the street, where he invites them to strike up a lively song–“Jim crack corn, and I don’t care, fo’h Mas’r’s g nike air max 1 premium one away!” he shouts; and several strike up, the rest joining in the old plantation chorus–“Away! away! away! Mas’r’s gone away.” Thus, with jingling chorus and seemingly joyous hearts, they march down to the man-market. The two children, Annette and Nicholas, trail behind, in charge of the sheriff, whose better feelings seem to be troubling him very much. Every now and then, as they walk by his side, he casts a serious look at Annette, as if conscience, speaking in deep pulsations, said it wasn’t just right to sell such an interesting little creature. Onward they marched, his head and heart warring the while. “There’s something about it that does’nt seem to come just right in a fellow’s feelins,” keeps working itself in his mind, until at length he mutters the words. It is the natural will to do good, struggling against the privileges which a government gives ungovernable men to do wrong. ③

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