Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER XII. -- SALLIE SMITH'S STORY.|
Sallie Smith living in the woods--Death of her mother--The ill-treatment she suffered.
THE subject of this sketch is another faithful sister of Aunt Charlotte's church. She was born in the State of Louisiana, on Bayou B[oelig ]uf. As I had the pleasure of meeting her very often, and, seeing she manifested much interest and real devotion for her church, I became much attached to her. So once as she passed I asked her, if it was not unpleasant to her, if she would please spend a while with me and tell the story of her life as a slave.
She readily assented, saying: "Yes, my dear child. There saint a day but what I think how good my blessed Jesus has been to me and all of my people. O, sometimes I think of my old slave-days, and begin to cry for joy when I remember how good the Lord has been to me. Well do I remember when my poor mother died and left me and my little brother. She
"Were you always able to get one hundred and fifty pounds every day?"
"No, my child, I could not. Sometimes I'd pick it, but I could not get it every day.
"Where did you sleep at night, and how did you get something to eat?"
"I slept on logs. I had moss for a pillow; and I tell you, child, I wasn't cared of nothing. I could hear bears, wild-cats, panthers, and every thing. I would come across all kinds of snakes--moccasin, blue runner, and rattle-snakes--and got used to them. One night while I was in the woods a mighty storm came up; the winds blowed, the rain poured down, the hail fell, the trees was torn up by the roots, and broken limbs fell in every direction; but not a hair on my head was injured, but I got as wet as a drowned, rat. Next day was a beautiful Sunday, and I dried myself like a buzzard."
"Aunt Sallie, you did not tell me how you got your meals."
"O, child, sometimes I did not get any; but many time I'd find out where the hands on the place were working, and if the overseer was
"Why, Aunt Sallie, it seems to me it was far better for you to have stayed at home than to wander about in the woods."
"No, I could not stay after my mother died. The overseer was mean to me. He beat me every day, and I had no kin on the plantation but my brother, and he could do nothing for me. I got used to staying in the woods, and felt satisfied there. I had a flint-rock and piece of steel, and I could begin a fire any time I wanted. Sometimes I'd get a chicken and would broil it on the coals and would bake ash-cake.
"I remember one night," said Aunt Sallie, "I went to the quarters and knocked at the door of one old lady that belonged to my marster, and she let me in. I asked her for something to eat, but she said, 'I saint got a piece of bread done, but if you want you can bake
"Well, what did he do with you?"
"He tied me with a rope by both arms and carried me to the smoke-house. When he got in he throwed the rope over the joist of the smoke-house and left me there all night. He just allowed my toes to touch the floor when he tied me up by my wrists. But, my child, the Lord was with me that night! I managed to get my wrists out of the rope and I sat up nodding in the smoke-house all that night. I was afraid to let him see me down, so just as he was about to unlock the door the next day I slipped my hands back in the rope. He thought I had been tied all night; but, bless the Lord! I was just like Paul and Silas when they were in jail. I cried to the Lord and he loosened the rope. Madam, although I did not have religion when I used to live in the woods, yet it seemed I could not keep from praying. I'd think of my mother, how, just before she died, she told me to 'come.' And that word always followed me. I used to lie out in the
"You have not told me what he did with you when he took you out of the smoke-house that morning."
"Why, he had a big barrel he kept to roll us
"Well, I suppose that was an end to your stay in the woods?"
"No, madam, I did not stay more than a month before I ran away again. I tell you, I could not stay there. I had got used to the woods, and the overseer was so brutal to me. The weather was beginning to turn cold, and I made me a moss bed just like a hog, and I kept warm at night. But many times I used to sleep in the chimney-corners on a plantation next to my marster's. I could hear the colored people inside the cabins pray and sing at night."
"Why, it seems you could have gone inside the cabins and stayed with them, Aunt Sallie?"
"Well, yes, I did go in often, but they finally told me I must stop coming. They said the overseer on their place would beat them to
"'In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
In the morning when I rise,
Give me Jesus, give me Jesus,
Give me Jesus!
You may have all this world;
Give me Jesus!'"