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GENTLEMEN dealers in want of human property,–planters in want of a few prime people,–brokers who have large transactions in such articles,–and factors who, being rather sensitive of their dignity, give to others the negotiation of their business,–are assembled in and around the mart, a covered shed, somewhat resembling those used by railroad companies for the storing of coarse merchandise. Marston’s negroes are to be sold. Suspicious circumstances are connected with his sudden decline: rumour has sounded her seven-tongued symbols upon it, and loud are the speculations. The cholera has made mighty ravages; but the cholera could not have done all. Graspum has grasped the plantation, quietly and adroitly, but he has not raised the veil of mystery that hangs over the process. There must be long explanations before the obdurate creditors are satisfied.
The irons have been removed from the property, who are crouched round the stand-an elevated platform-in a forlorn group, where sundry customers can scrutinize their proportions. Being little or no fancy among it, the fast young gentlemen of the town, finding nothing worthy their attention and taste, make a few cursory observations, and slowly swagger out of the ring. The children are wonderfully attractive and promising; they are generally admired by the customers, who view them with suspicious glances. Annette’s clean white skin and fine features are remarkably promising,–much valued as articles of merchandise,–and will, in time, pay good interest. Her youth, however, saves her from present sacrifice,–it thwarts that spirited competition which older property of the same quality produces when about to be knocked down under the hammer of freedom.
It is a great day, a day of tribulation, with the once happy people of Marston’s plantation. No prayer is offered up for them, their souls being nike air max 1 only embodied in their market value. Prayers are not known at the man shambles, though the hammer of the vender seals with death the lives of many. No gentleman in modest black cares aught for such death. The dealer will not pay the service fee! Good master is no longer their protector; his familiar face, so buoyant with joy and affection, has passed from them. No more will that strong attachment manifest itself in their greetings. Fathers will be fathers no longer-it is unlawful. Mothers cannot longer clasp their children in their arms with warm affections. Children will no longer cling around their mothers,–no longer fondle in that bosom where once they toyed and joyed.
The articles murmur among themselves, cast longing glances at each other, meet the gaze of their purchasers, with pain and distrust brooding over cheap nike air max their countenances. They would seem to trace the character-cruel or gentle-of each in his look.
Was it that God ordained one man thus to doom another? No! the very thought repulsed the plea. He never made one man’s life to be sorrow and fear-to be the basest object, upon which blighting strife for gold fills the passions of tyrants. He never made man to be a dealer in his own kind. He never made man after his own image to imprecate the wrath of heaven by blackening earth with his foul deeds. He never made man to blacken this fair portion of earth with storms of contention, nor to overthrow the principles that gave it greatness. He never made man to fill the cup that makes the grim oppressor fierce in his triumphs over right.
Come reader-come with us: let us look around the pale of these common man shambles. He cheap nike air max re a venerable father sits, a bale of merchandise, moved with the quick pulsation of human senses. He looks around him as the storm of resentment seems ready to burst forth: his wrinkled brow and haggard face in vain ask for sympathy. A little further on, and a mother leans over her child,–tremblingly draws it to her side; presses it nearer and nearer to her bosom. Near her, feeding a child with crumbs of bread, is a coarse negro, whose rough exterior covers a good heart. He gives a glance of hate and scorn at those who are soon to tear from him his nearest and dearest. A gloomy ring of sullen faces encircle us: hope, fear, and contempt are pictured in each countenance. Anxious to know its doom, the pent-up soul burns madly within their breasts; no tears can quench the fire-freedom only can exting uish it. But, what are such things? mere trifles when the soul loves only gold. What are they to men who buy such human trifles? who buy and sell mankind, with feelings as unmoved as the virgin heart that knows no guilt?
Various are the remarks made by those who are taking a cursory view of the people; very learned in nigger nature are many; their sayings evince great profoundness. A question seems to be the separating of wenches from their young ‘uns. This is soon settled. Graspum, who has made his appearance, and is very quaintly and slowly making his apprehensions known, informs the doubting spectators that Romescos, being well skilled, will do that little affair right up for a mere trifle. It takes him to bring the nonsense out of nigger wenches. This statement being quite satisfactory, the gentlemen purchasers are at r air max est on that point.
The hour of sale has arrived,–the crier rings his bell, the purchasers crowd up to the stand, the motley group of negroes take the alarm, and seem inclined to close in towards a centre as the vender mounts the stand. The bell, with the sharp clanking sound, rings their funeral knell; they startle, as with terror; they listen with subdued anxiety; they wait the result in painful suspense. How little we would recognise the picture from abroad. The vender, an amiable gentleman dressed in modest black, and whose cheerful countenance, graced with the blandest smile, betokens the antipodes of his inhuman traffic, holding his hat in his left hand, and a long paper in his right, makes an obsequious bow to those who have honoured him with their company. He views nike air max them for a few moments, smiles, casts his eye over the paper again,–it sets forth age and quality–and then at his marketable people. The invoice is complete; the goods correspond exactly. The texture and quality have been appraised by good judges. Being specified, he commences reading the summons and writs, and concludes with other preliminaries of the sale.
“Now, gentlemen,” says Mr. Forshou–for such is his name–as he adjusts his hat, lays the document on the desk at his right hand, pulls up the point of his shirt-collar, sets his neatly-trimmed whiskers a point forward, and smooths his well-oiled hair: “We-will-proceed-with-the-sale-of this lot of negroes, according to the directions of the sheriff of the county. nike air max classic And if no restrictions are imposed, gentlemen can make their selection of old or young to suit their choice or necessities! Gentlemen, however, will be expected to pay for separating.” Mr. Forshou, by way of interpolation, reminds his friends that, seeing many of his very best customers present, he expects sharp and healthy bids. He will further remind them (smiling and fretting his hands, as if to show the number of diamond rings he can afford to wear), that the property has been well raised, is well known, and ranges from the brightest and most interesting, to the commonest black field hand. “Yes, gentlemen,” he adds nike air max sale , “by the fortune of this unfortunate sale we can accommodate you with anything in the line of negro property. We can sell you a Church and a preacher-a dance-house and a fiddler-a cook and an oyster-shop. Anything! All sold for no fault; and warranted as sound as a roach. The honourable sheriff will gives titles-that functionary being present signifies his willingness-and every man purchasing is expected to have nike air max 95 his shiners ready, so that he can plunk down cash in ten days. I need not recount the circumstances under which this property is offered for sale; it is enough to say that it is offered; but, let me say, gentlemen, to enlarge upon it would be painful to my feelings. I will merely read the schedule, and, after selling the people, put up the oxen, mules, and farming utensils.” Mr. Forshou, with easy contentment, takes up the list and reads at the top of his voice. The names of heads of families are announced one by one; they answer the call promptly. He continues till he reaches Annette and Nicholas, and here he pauses for a few moments, turning from the paper to them, as if he one minute saw them on the paper and the next on the floor. “Here, gentlemen,” he ejaculates, in a half guttural voice-something he could not account nike air max 90 for touched his conscience at the moment-holding the paper nearer his eye-glass, “there is two bits of property bordering on the sublime. It dazzles-seems almost too interesting to sell. It makes a feller’s heart feel as if it warn’t stuck in the right place.” Mr. Forshou casts another irresistible look at the children; his countenance changes; he says he is very sensitive, and shows it in his blushes. He might have saved his blushes for the benefit of the State. The State is careful of its blushes; it has none to sell-none to bestow on a child’s sorrow!
Annette returns his somewhat touching manifestation of remorse with a childlike smile.
“Well! I reckon how folks is gettin’ tenderish, now a’ days. Who’d thought the major had such touchy kind a’ feelins? Anything wrong just about yer goggler?” interrupts Romescos, giving t nike air max 90 sale he vender a quizzical look, and a “half-way wink.” Then, setting his slouch hat on an extra poise, he contorts his face into a dozen grimaces. “Keep conscience down, and strike up trade,” he says, very coolly, drawing a large piece of tobacco from his breast-pocket and filling his mouth to its utmost capacity.
“Feelings are over all things,” responds the sheriff, who stands by, and will speak for the vender, who is less accustomed to speaking for himself. “Feelings bring up recollections of things one never thought of before,–of the happiest days of our happiest home. ‘Tain’t much, no, nothing at all, to sell regular black and coloured property; but there’s a sort of cross-grained mythology about the business when it comes to selling such clear grain as this.”
The vender relieves the honourable sheriff from all further dis cheap nike air max play of sympathy, by saying that he feels the truth of all the honourable and learned gentleman has said, “which has ‘most made the inward virtue of his heart come right up.” He leans over the desk, extends his hand, helps himself to a generous piece of Romescos’ tobacco.
Romescos rejoins in a subdued voice-“He thinks a man what loves dimes like the major cannot be modest in nigger business, because modesty ain’t trade commodity. It cannot be; the man who thinks of such nonsense should sell out-should go north and join the humane society. Folks are all saints, he feels sure, down north yander; wouldn’t sell nigger property;–they only send south right smart preachers to keep up the dignity of the institution; to do the peculiar religion of the very peculiar institution. No objection to that; nor hain’t no objection to their cheap nike air max trainers feelin’ bad about the poor niggers, so long as they like our cash and take our cotton. That’s where the pin’s drove in; while it hangs they wouldn’t be bad friends with us for the world.”
“You may, Mr. Romescos, suspend your remarks,” says the vender, looking indignant, as he thrusts his right hand into his bosom, and attempts a word of introduction.
Romescos must have his last word; he never says die while he has a word at hand. “The major’s love must be credited, gentlemen; he’s a modest auctioneer,–a gentleman what don’t feel just right when white property’s for sale,” he whispers, sarcastically.
Another pause, then a hearty laughing, and the man commences to sell his people. He has uttered but a few words, when Marston’s attorney, stepping into the centre of the ring, and near the vender, draws a paper from his pocket nike air max , and commences reading in a loud tone. It is a copy of the notice he had previously served on the sheriff, setting forth in legal phraseology the freedom of the children, “And therfo’h this is t’ stay proceedings until further orders from the honourable Court of Common Pleas,” is audible at the conclusion. The company are not much surprised. There is not much to be surprised at, when slave law and common law come in contact. With Marston’s sudden decline and unfathomable connection with Graspum, there is nothing left to make the reading of the notice interesting.
“You hear this, gentlemen?” says the vender, biting his lips: “the sale of this very interesting portion of this very interesting property is objected to by the attorney for the defendant at law. They must, therefore, be remanded to the custody of the sheriff, to await the decision of court.” That court of strange judgments! The sheriff, that wonderful medium of slaveocratic power, comes forward, muttering a word of consolation; he will take them away. He passes them over to an attendant, who conducts them to their dark chilly cells.
“All right!” says Graspum, moving aside to let the children pass out. “No more than might have been expected; it’s no use, though. Marston will settle that little affair in a very quiet way.” He gives the man-vender a look of approval; the very celebrated Mr. Graspum has self-confidence enough for “six folks what don’t deal in niggers.” A bystander touching him on the arm, he gives his head a cunning shake, crooks his finger on his red nose. “Just a thing of that kind,” he whispers, making some very delicate legal gesticulations with the fore-finger of his right hand in the palm of his left; then, with great gravity, he discusses some very nice points of nigger law. He is heard to say it will only be a waste of time, and make some profitable rascality for the lawyers. He could have settled the whole on’t in seven minutes. “Better give them up honourably, and let them be sold with the rest. Property’s property all over the world; and we must abide by the laws, or what’s the good of the constitution? To feel bad about one’s own folly! The idea of taking advantage of it at this late hour won’t hold good in law. How contemptibly silly! men feeling fatherly after they have made property of their own children! Poor, conscientious fools, how they whine at times, never thinking how they would let their womanish feelings cheat their creditors. There’s no honour in that.”
“Gentlemen!” interrupts the vender, “we have had enough discussion, moral, legal, and otherwise. We will now have some selling.”
The honourable sheriff desires to say a word or two upon points not yet advanced. “The sheriff! the sheriff!” is exclaimed by several voices. He speaks, having first adjusted his spectacles, and relieved himself of three troublesome coughs. “The institution-I mean, gentlemen, the peculiar institution-must be preserved; we cannot, must not, violate statutes to accommodate good-feeling people. My friend Graspum is right, bob and sinker; we’d get ourselves into an everlasting snarl, if we did. I am done!” The sheriff withdraws his spectacles, places them very carefully in a little case, wipes his mouth modestly, and walks away humming an air.
“Now, gentlemen,” says the vender, bristling with renewed animation “seeing how you’ve all recovered from a small shock of conscience, we will commence the sale.”
Aunt Rachel is now placed upon the stand. Her huge person, cleanly appearance-Auntie has got her bandana tied with exquisite knot-and very motherly countenance excite general admiration, as on an elevated stand she looms up before her audience. Mr. Forshou, the very gentlemanly vender, taking up the paper, proceeds to describe Aunt Rachel’s qualities, according to the style and manner of a celebrated race-horse. Auntie doesn’t like this,–her dignity is touched; she honours him with an angry frown. Then she appeals to the amiable gentleman; “come, mas’r, sell ‘um quick; don’ hab no nonsense wid dis child! Sell ‘um to some mas’r what make I housekeeper. Old mas’r,–good old Boss,–know I fus’ rate at dat. Let ‘um done gone, mas’r, fo’h soon.” Rachel is decidedly opposed to long drawn-out humbuggery.
The bids now commence; Rachel, in mute anxiety, tremblingly watches the lips they fall from. ③

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