Albert, Octavia V. Rogers
|CHAPTER VI. -- A KIND MISTRESS.|
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
"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,
"'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
"If the Catholics could feel that spare of heavenly love that pervades the soul of every
"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
"Yes," said I, "we read in the Bible that 'fools, because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted.