Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER II. -- CHARLOTTE'S STORY.|
Meeting Jane Lee from Viriginia--Conversion of Charlotte Brooks.
"FOUR years after I came to Louisiana the speculators brought another woman out here from my old State. She was sold to a man near my marster's plantation. I heard of it, and, thinks I, that might be some of my kinsfolks, or somebody that knew my mother. So the first time I got a chance I went to see the woman. My white folks did not want the 'niggers' to go off on Sundays; but anyhow my old marster let me go sometimes after dinner on Sunday evenings. So I went to see who the woman was, and I tell you, my child, when I got in the road going I could not go fast enough, for it just seemed to me that the woman was one of my folks. I walked a while and would run a while. By and by I got there. As I went in the gate I met a man, and I asked him what was the woman's name; he said her
"Aunt Jane was no kin to me, but I felt that she was because she came from my old home, Me and Aunt Jane talked and cried that Sunday evening till nearly dark. Aunt Jane said she left her children, and it almost killed her to ever think of them. She said one was only five years old. Her old marster got in debt, and he sold her to pay his debts. I told her I had left all of my people too, and that I was a poor lone creature to myself when I first came out from Virginia. Aunt Jane asked me did the people have churches here. I told her no, that I had not been in a church since I came here. She had religion, and she was as good a woman as you ever saw. She
"Aunt Charlotte, it must have been a joyful time with you when you first saw Aunt Jane Lee.'
"Yes, I tell you. I stayed with her till evening. I was afraid old marster would not let me go to see Aunt Jane any more, and when I got in the road, I tell you I did not lose any time. It was dark when I left Aunt Jane; but before I left her house she prayed and sang, and it made me feel glad to hear her pray and sing. It made me think of my old Virginia home and my mother. She sang,
"Guide me, O thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.'
"I had heard that hymn before, but had forgot it. All next week it seemed to me I could hear the old Virginia hymn Aunt Jane sung for me that Sunday evening when I was working in the cane-field.
"It was nearly rolling season when Aunt Jane first came to Louisiana, and we all was so busy working night and day I did not have a chance to see her in a long time after I left her that Sunday evening. But two or three months after that I got a chance to go to see her again. Old marster let me go and stay all day that Sunday. He said we all had made such a good year's work, and he was mighty well pleased with us. But he was not always glad and pleased with us. Sometimes he would get mad about something going wrong on the place, and he would beat every one of us and look us up in the jail he made for us.
"What! Did he put you in Jail on Sunday?"
"Yes, most every Sunday morning when we did not have any work to do. The next time I went to see Aunt Jane we had another happy time. She could read right good in the Bible and hymn-book, and she would read to me one or two hymns at a time. I remember she read to me about Daniel in the lions den, and about the king having the three Hebrew children cast in the fiery furnace, and when he looked in the flames of fire he saw four men,
"I finally got religion, and it was Aunt Jane's praying and singing them old Virginia hymns and that helped me so much. Aunt Jane's marster would let her come to see me sometimes, but not often. Sometimes she would slip away from her place at night and come to see me anyhow. She would hold prayers meeting in my house whenever she would come to see me."
"Would your marster allow you to hold prayer-meeting on his place?"
"No, my child; if old marster heard us singing and praying he would come out and make us stop. One time, I remember, we all were having a prayer-meeting in my cabin, and marster came up to the door and hollered out, 'You, Charlotte what's all that fuss in there?' We all had to hush up for that night. I was so afraid old marster would see Aunt Jane. I knew Aunt Jane would have to suffer if her white people knew she was off at night. Marster used to say God was tired of us all hollering to him at night."
"Did any of the black people on his place believe in the teachings of their master?"
"No, my child; none of us listened to him about singing and praying. I tell you we used to have some good times together praying and singing. He did not want us to pray, but we would have our little prayer-meeting anyhow. Sometimes when we met to hold our meetings we would put a big wash-tub full of water in the middle of the floor to catch the sound of our voices when we sung. When we all sung give would march around and shake each other's hands, and we would sing easy and low, so marster could not hear us. O, how happy I used to be in those meetings, although I was a slave! I thank the Lord Aunt Jane Lee lived by me. She helped me to make my peace with the Lord. O, the day I was converted! It seemed to me it was a paradise here below! It looked like I wanted nothing any more. Jesus was so sweet to my soul! Aunt Jane used to sing," Jesus! the name that charms our fears. That hymn just suited my case. Sometimes I felt like preaching myself. It seemed I wanted to ask every body if they loved Jesus when I first got converted. I wanted to ask