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  --  GREAT TRIBULATIONS.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER VII

Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
The House of Bondage



Death of Aunt Charlotte's mistress--Second marriage of Aunt Charlotte's master--George, one of Aunt Charlotte's fellow-servants, beaten nearly to death and one eye put out for being overheard talking about freedom.

My mistress took sick with fever, and we all did not think she was bad off. We knowed she had been used to being sick now and then, but would soon be up. But she never left her bed alive. They sent for the priest just before she died. He greased her with something. I believe, and they say she took the sacrament from the priest that day. But I am afraid she is lost. She died just like she lived. Mistress did not live right, and she did not die right. The old saying. I just as the tree falls, just so it lies.' So many times I used to want to talk to her about her religion; but she seemed to know every thing, and I was a poor creature that knowed nothing but how to work for marster in the cane-field. Marster

had mass for mistress, I don't know how many times; but what good did it do her soul?"

"None whatever, Aunt Charlotte; we must make our peace with God before we leave the world. This world is our dressing-room, and if we are not dressed up and prepared to meet God when we die we can never enter the promised land; for there is no preparation beyond the grave. The Bible tells us, 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."

"Yes," said Aunt Charlotte; "I have heard Aunt Jane say she used to hear the preacher in Virginia preach that very text. She used to say, 'The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life."

"Why, Aunt Charlotte, she was equal to a preacher; she was certainly above the average of colored women."

"Yes, my child, she was raised in Virginia, and she learned how to read before she came out here."

Aunt Charlotte, at the death of your mistress did you all get on any better with your master?"

"No, my child; old marster always ruled that place. He went to Georgia and married a lady,

and we all was mighty glad he married a 'Merican woman, because we thought we would be allowed to go to church. But; la, my child! she did not believe in Catholic religion, but old marster ruled her and she could not do what she wanted. It would do your soul good to hear her sing the hymns when she came to our place. Sometimes on Sunday morning she would go out in the flower-garden, and we would hear her singing,

"'Happy day, happy day,
When Jesus washed my sins away.'

"They did not live good together. I always believed he was sorry he married her, for she was not Catholic. I used to see her crying when he would leave her and go off. He was rich, but that did not make his last wife happy. She was a pretty young woman, but she soon began to look old after she came to our place. She would let us have our little meetings, but he would not allow her to have any thing to do with us. I liked old marster's last wife. She used to come in the kitchen on Sundays and talk about religion. She wanted to go to "Merican church, but it was so far away she

could not go often. It was about twenty miles away from our place. Sometimes, though, she went. I remember she told me that the minister took for his text one Sunday morning, 'Rest for the people of God'. I said to mistress, 'La! how I wish I could heard that preached!' She said to me, 'Yes, Charlotte, it would do your soul good to hear that minister preach.' I knowed mistress could not let me go to church. Marster didn't like 'Merican or Protestant religion, and he didn't want none of us to go. I just tell you, my child, Catholic religion and 'Merican religion can't go together. A woman does mighty bad business marrying a Catholic man if she believes in 'Merican religion. They don't live peaceful together. We never had any more dancing on Sunday nor Monday after marster married that 'Merican woman. Sometimes marster's kinfolks would come to see his last wife on Sunday evening, but they did not have any pleasure together. You know oil and water wont mix, and just so with the Catholic and 'Merican religions. They believe our religion is nothing."

"If the Catholics could feel that spare of heavenly love that pervades the soul of every

true converted child of God, Aunt Charlotte, they would never doubt the American religion."

"I believe so, my child. When the Yankees came I left the plantation, and I don't know what become of mistress after I left her; but I think of her now, and would be so glad to see her. If she is dead I believe she is at rest, for she used talk about that Christian journey so much."

"Yes, Aunt Charlotte, I knew of white women who were truly converted here in the South, and who took pleasure in teaching the colored people the Scriptures. I knew, in the State of Georgia, white families who would compel their slaves to attend church on Sundays and would not allow them to work on that day. If they did not attend church they would go out in the colored people's cabins and read the Bible to them very often on Sundays and explain it to them. I don't mean to say that the whites did this as a general thing, but many of them did."

"But how could they have good religion and keep us poor darkies in bondage and beat us half to death?"


"Well, Aunt Charlotte, I am hardly able to answer you satisfactorily, I must confess, for when I pause and think over the hard punishments of the slaves by the whites, many of whom professed to be Christians, I am filled with amazement. Religion fills our souls with love for God and humanity. The Bible, moreover, says, 'We know we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren.' And you know as a rule there were comparatively few colored people during the period of slavery, or even now, but what are members of some Christian denomination. So they were their brethren through Christ.

"Aunt Charlotte, did you slaves know what brought on this last war?"

"Yes, child; we heard people say the Yankees was fighting to free us. But, my child, it was death for us poor darkies to talk about freedom. We had a man on our place named George. Marster did not like him much, no how, and one day he overheard George talking about freedom; and, I tell you, he half killed him that day. He beat George a while, and then would make the driver beat him a while. They say they give George nine hundred lashes

and then made him wash all over in salt water. While he was whipping him he put out one of George's eyes. Poor George didn't have but one eye after that. But, let me tell you, it was not three months after that before marster bought a fine horse, and he used to drive him to his buggy all the time. Old marster loved that horse better than he loved his wife, I think. One morning he was driving out, and the horse got scared at something and run away, broke the buggy all to pieces, throwed marster flat on the ground, and broke his leg. Old marster never did walk without a crutch after that. I tell you I was sorry for marster, for he suffered so much when he was down in the bed from his broken leg. But I thought no good would ever come of him when he put out George's eye."

"Yes," said I, "we read in the Bible that 'fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.


  --  GREAT TRIBULATIONS.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER VII