Foote, Julia A.J.
|An Undeserved Whipping|
All this time the Primes had treated me as though I were their own child. Now my feelings underwent a great change toward them; my dislike for them was greater than my love had been, and this was the reason. One day, Mrs. Prime, having company, sent me to the cellar to bring up some little pound cakes, which she had made a few days previously. There were but two or three left; these I brought to her. She asked me where the rest were. I told her "I didn't know." At this she grew very angry, and said, "I'll make you know, when the company is gone." She, who had always been so kind and motherly, frightened me so by her looks and action that I trembled so violently I could not speak. This was taken as an evidence of my guilt. The dear Lord alone knows how my little heart ached, for I was entirely innocent of the crime laid to my charge. I had no need to steal anything, for I had a plenty of everything there was.
There was a boy working for Mr. Prime that I always thought took the cakes, for I had seen him put his hand into his pocket hastily, and wipe his mouth carefully, if he met any one on his way from the cellar. But what could I do? I could not prove it, and his stout denial was believed as against my unsupported word.
That night I wished over and over again that I could be hung as John Van Paten had been. In the darkness and silence, Satan came to me and told me to go to the barn and hang myself. In the morning I was fully determined to do so. I went to the barn for that purpose, but that boy, whom I disliked very much, was there, and he laughed at me as hard as he could. All at once my weak feelings left me, and I sprang at him in a great rage, such as I had never known before; but he eluded my grasp, and ran away, laughing. Thus was I a second time saved from a dreadful sin.
That day, Mr. and Mrs. Prime, on their return from town, brought a rawhide. This Mrs. Prime applied to my back until she was tired, all the time insisting that I should confess that I took the cakes. This, of course, I could not do. She then put the rawhide up,
That afternoon Mrs. Prime went away, leaving me alone in the house. I carried the rawhide out to the wood pile, the axe, and cut it up into small pieces, which I threw away, determined not to be whipped with that thing again. The next morning I rose very early, before any one else was up in the house, and started for home. It was a long, lonely road, through the woods; every sound frightened me, and made me run for fear some one was after me. When I reached home, I told my mother all that had happened, but she did not say very much about it. In the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Prime came to the house, and had a long talk with us about the affair. My mother did not believe I had told a falsehood, though she did not say much before me. She told me in after years that she talked very sharply to the Primes when I was not by. They promised not to whip me again, and my mother sent me back with them, very much against my will.
They were as kind to me as ever, after my return, though I did not think so at the time. I was not contented to stay there, and left when I was about twelve years old. The experience of that last year made me quite a