Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER X. -- A CONVERTED CATHOLIC.|
Going to Church on Sunday in Georgia--ill-treatment of Uncle John's daughter--Aunt Lorendo's second visit--Her conversion from Romanism--Her Cousin Albert to be hung--Hattie runs away to the wood and gives birth to a child there.
I ASKED Uncle John if he did not find it hard, after moving to Louisiana, that he could not attend church as he used to in Georgia.
"Yes, madam; I missed the good preaching I used to hear in Georgia. We all walked a many a time ten and twelve miles to go to church there on Sunday. My mammy used to cook on Saturday for us all to carry with us on Sunday; and we all would get up before day on Sunday morning and start off to church. I tell you, we would walk a while and rest a while under the shade of the trees on the road-side. Sometimes we would get to the church before ten o'clock. They always
Uncle John said: "I remember until this day the text that minister took that Sunday when Nancy got religion. It was, 'Behold, I stand at the door and knock.' I tell you, ma'am, Nancy shouted, and was so happy we could hardly get her home that evening. She shouted all along the road as we walked. We all got happy on our way back that night, and I do believe it was ten o'clock before we reached home. Nancy cried out in church when she was converted, and said, 'Glory be to God and the Lamb forever! I am washed clean by the blood of Jesus.' "
Uncle John said: "Poor Nancy! I reckon she is dead now. She was our white folks' cook. We had a little girl ten years old; she waited in the house. They would blindfold
Uncle John could hardly suppress the tears from his eyes while relating the sad condition of his wife and the inhuman abuse of his daughter when he left them in Georgia, although it had been many years. He said, "O, if I could only see my children once more!"
He left me that evening with the promise that he would come to see me again, and that he would have his wife visit me too. Aunt Lorendo said, "I know where you live now, and will stop to see you sometimes when I pass." I told her I thanked her, and that I should be pleased to have her stop at any time. I said, "It affords me real pleasure to have yourself and husband relate your trials and sorrows that you both had to endure so long."
It was not long before Aunt Lorendo called again. As she entered the door I said: "Good morning, Aunt Lorendo; how are you feeling?"
"I am pretty well," she said.
I asked, "How is Uncle John?"
"O, he is well as might be expected for an old man. You know he passed through so much hardship in slavery, he will never feel well till he gets home. He caught so much cold and is so painful he can't hardly rest at night. But," she added, "I trust we both will rest by and by."
"Yes, Aunt Lorendo, the Bible promises that there is 'rest for the people of God.' And it affords us joy to know that although we have trials and tribulations here we who prove faithful till death shall enter that 'rest prepared for the people of God.'"
"Yes, ma'am; I used to be Catholic, but I never knowed how good the 'Merican religion was till I married John. He was a member of the 'Merican church, and he got me to go with him on Sundays to his church; and the more I went the more I liked it. I made my first communion when I was fifteen years old in the Catholic Church, and I was a Catholic for a long time. I tell you, I used to think no other religion was good like mine. I made fun of the 'Merican religion; but now, ever since I been changed, I feel like I been new born. I tell you that 'Merican religion makes any body
"Aunt Lorendo, when you were a Catholic did you always confess everything to the priest?"
"Yes, ma'am; I'd tell the priest every thing I did wicked. But, I tell you, one time I had a cousin that told the priest he wanted to get free, and asked him to pray to God to set him free, and, bless your soul, ma'am, the priest was about to have my cousin hung. The priest told my cousin's marster about it, and they was talking strong about hanging my cousin. They had my cousin up and made him tell who had told him any thing about freedom. But the priest managed some way to save my poor cousin. Madam, I tell you, from that day on I could not follow my Catholic religion like I had. You know the Catholics always tell the priest every thing; they talk to him like a father; and so it was with my cousin. He would tell the priest every thing. He never thought he would tell on him."
"Why, Aunt Lorendo, don't you know the
"Aunt Lorendo, Aunt Charlotte has spent many hours with me telling of her slave-life here in Louisiana, and as you were born and reared here perhaps the revelation of your experiences will be as thrilling as hers. I must say that she has caused tears to flow from my eyes many a day while relating her hardships."
"Yes," replied Aunt Lorendo; "we come through so much hardship sometimes I wonder why we poor darkies did not all die out in slave-time. They used to run away in the woods and stay till all the clothes was off their backs. Why, ma'am, I know one time, right in my neighborhood, one woman--her mistress always had the overseer beating her--her
I asked Aunt Lorendo if Hattie had a husband; she said no, that Hattie had two children by her master's son, and she reckoned the one Hattie had given birth to in the woods was by his son too. Hattie wanted to get married to one of the men on the place, but the master would not let her, because he wanted her for his son.
"Well, Aunt Lorendo, what finally became of Hattie?"
"O, bless you, the patrollers at last caught her with the nigger-hounds one day when we was all coming out in the field, and we met poor Hattie. They had caught her that morning. Madam, I remember just like it was yesterday. There was six white men and ten hounds. All the white men was on horses, and poor Hattie was in front barefooted, the dogs behind her. Hattie was almost naked that morning; blood was all on her feet as she was walking along. I saw all of it with my own two eyes. O, how sorry I felt for poor
Now, my readers, these are not imaginary thoughts, but they were actually related to me. While I pen these lines I can hardly suppress the tears when I picture to my mind a poor woman marching before six men, six horses, and ten blood-hounds with blood oozing from her feet. There were none to care for her or give a friendly word in her behalf. Poor creature, she had given birth to a child in the woods, being compelled to wander about like a wild beast in the forest on account of the inhuman treatment of the white man in this Bible land of ours! Just you imagine the poor creature, a precious soul in the sight of God, no doubt, this temple of the living God, being driven by blood-hounds, bruised and mangled as she marched before them. And with all that she was carried home and put in stocks at night and beaten every morning. On being asked how she got on in the woods without any human help she said, "I don't know; all I can tell you, God took care of me."
Dear Christian reader, can we doubt the presence of God with her? Did he not say, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end?" He has promised to guide us safely home if we will only follow him. Surely "He is a Rock in a weary land!" Glory be to God for all of his precious promises. Hattie could have cried out:
"But with thee is mercy found,
Balm to heal my every wound;
Soothe, O soothe this troubled breast,
Give the weary wanderer rest."
Aunt Lorendo's visits proved a source of much pleasure, as did Aunt Charlotte's many welcome visits.