Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER IV. -- CRUEL MASTERS|
Nellie Johnson is barbarously treated--Sam Wilson living in the swamps of Louisiana--Richard's wife living on another plantation--His master refuses to allow him to visit her --He is caught by the patrollers and beaten almost to death.
"AUNT JANE loved Nellie, although A Nellie was no kin to her, and she used to talk very often to me about her white people using her so bad. She said once that a baby was born to Nellie on the road when she was coming in the speculator's drove, and the speculator gave the child away to a white woman near by where they camped that night. The speculator said they could not take care of the child on the road, and told Nellie it was better to let the white woman have the child."
"Poor Nellie! I reckon she was trying to go back to see her child when she was caught by the white barbarous, creatures who evidently were without human nature."
"Yes, I think so too," said Aunt Charlotte, "for blood is thicker than water. The white people thought in slave-time we poor darkies had no soul, and they separated us like dogs. So many poor colored people are dead from grieving at the separation of their children that was sold away from them."
"Aunt Jane said Nellie's owner was so bad! She said they had a man named Sam Wilson; he stayed one half of his time in the swamp. His master used to get after him to whip him, but Sam would not let his marster beat him. He would run off and stayed in the woods two and three months at a time. The white folks would set the dogs behind him, but Sam could not be caught by the dogs. The colored people said Sam greased his feet with rabbit-grease, and that kept the dogs from him. Aunt Jane said to me that she did not know what Sam used, but it looked like Sam could go off and stay as long as he wanted when the white folks got after him."
Aunt Charlotte said to me, "I tell you, my child, nobody could get me to run away in those Louisiana swamps. Death is but death, and I just thought if I'd run off in those
"Aunt Charlotte, how many of you all used to carry on prayer-meeting after Aunt Jane left?"
"Well, let me count; we had Mary, Lena, Annie, Ann, Sarah, Nancy, and Martha--seven sisters and four brethren, Billy, Green. Jones, and Richard. La, me! what a good time we all used to have in my cabin on that plantation! I think of them good, happy times we used to have not since freedom, and wish I could see all of them once more. I tell you, child, religion is good anywhere--at the plow-handle, at the hoe-handle, anywhere. If you are filled with the love of my Jesus you are happy.
"Richard used to be mighty faithful to his prayer-meeting, but old marster begun to be mighty mean to him. His wife lived on another plantation, and marster told Richard he had to give up that wife and take a woman on our place. Richard told old marster he did not want any other woman; he said he loved his wife and could never love any other woman. His wife was named Betty. I believe Richard would die for Betty. Sometimes Richard would slip off and go to see Betty, and marster told the patrollers every time they caught Richard on the plantation where Betty lived to beat him half to death. The patrollers have had caught Richard many times, and had beat him mighty bad. So one night Richard heard the dogs coming in the woods nearer his wife's house, and he jumped out of his wife's window, and he went for dear life or death through the woods. He said he had to always pass over the bayou to go to his wife, but that night the patrollers were so hot behind him that he lost
"Did you say Richard was a Christian, Aunt Charlotte?"
"Yes; he used to pray and sing with us, many, many times, all the hymns Aunt Jane
"'In the valley, in the valley,
There's a mighty cry to
Jesus in the valley;
So weary, so tired, Lord, I wish
I was in heaven, hallelu.'"
Aunt Charlotte said: "Poor Richard! I reckon he is dead now. when the Yankees came he was one of the first ones to leave our place, and I never heard from him any more. I reckon if he is dead he is resting at last in heaven. O, he had so many trials in this cold, unfriendly world! But he never give up praying and trusting in the Lord. Sometimes when we all would be hoeing the cane we did not go home to dinner, but we had our victuals in a basket, and we ate under a shade-tree. When it was hot marster used to let us have one hour and a half at twelve o'clock. Then we used to have good times under the shadetrees. We used to talk of Aunt Jane Lee, and we would sing some of her hymns till we all would go to sleep."