Thompson, Priscilla Jane
|GLEANINGS OF QUIET HOURS.|
|THE FAVORITE SLAVE'S STORY.|
WELL, son de story of my life,
Is long, and full of shade;
And yet, the bright spots, here and tha,
A heap of comforts made.
When fust my eyes beheld de light,
'Twas on a Chris'mus day;
'Twelve miles fum Richmond "on a fa'm,"
As you young upsta'ts say.
We said "plantation" in de South,
We black, and white folks too;
We wa'n't a changin' ev'ry day,
Like all you young folks do.
My mother cooked de white-folks grub,
Dat's all she had to do,
Ole Miss, she spilte her half to death,
And spilte her young ones, too.
Fah, well I mind me, in dem days,
How I and Sue and Pete,
Would roll around Miss Nancy's cheer,
And play about her feet.
Miss Nancy,--I kin hear her yet--
'You Petah, Sue, an' Si!
I'll make yo' maustah whoop you sho!"
(Wid laughtah in her eye.)
Ole mause, he'd whoop us soon as not;
But, when Miss Nancy saw,
She'd run out, wid dat look, an' say,
'I wouldn't whoop him, Pa.'
One day,--I nevah kin fahgit,
Ole Miss wus sick in bed;
Ole Mause, he ripped, an' cussed, an' to',
An' made himself a dread.
Somehow, I can't tell how it wus,
He slapped my sistah Sue,
And mammy, coase she took it up,
Den dah wus heap to do.
Pete lit right in wid tooth and claw,
And so did little sis,
Fah me, I had anothah plan,
I flew upstairs fah Miss.
I met Miss Nancy on de stairs,
Wrapped in a great big shawl,
An' comin' down de steps so fast,
Jest seemed as ef she'd fall.
I tried to tell her 'whut wus up,'
She pushed me on befo',
Fah mammy's cries wus in her yeahs,
An' she heard nothin' mo'.
She caught ole Mause, an' pulled him off;
Her eyes dey fa'ly blazed;
Ole Mause commenced a silly grin,
An' looked like he wus dazed.
I'd nevah seed Miss Nancy mad,
Good Lo'd! She fussed an' to'e;
She raked ole Maustah o'er de coals',
Until he begged an'swo'.
She wouldn't 'low Maria whooped,
She jest would leave de place,
An' take 'way ev'ry slave she brought!
She jest r'ared in his face.
She wouldn't 'low Maria whooped,
Jest leave her young ones be!
They nevah sassed her when she spoke,
It wasn't dem, 'twas he!
He tried to coax her back to bed,
But, Lo'd! She wouldn't go:
'Whut time had she to stay upstairs
When he would take on so?'
An' Mammy, she wus cryin' loud;
(De whoopin' wus her fus,)
An', whut wid little sistah Sue,
It made Miss Nancy wus.
She'd fuss all round about Ole Mause,
Jest like a spunky hen;
She'd pat my mothah on de back,
An' den begin' again.
Well son, she p'intly made things wa'm,
Fah Ole Mause whined an' swo';
No mattah how we all took on,
He'd whoop none uv us mo'.
"Maria, take yo' Miss upstairs!"
He'd wring his hands an' scream,
Miss Nancy'd stamp her foot an' scream,
She'd stay right tha' all day.
Well, when she'd fussed plum out uv brief,
To add to his ala'ms,
She jest 'keeled' ovah in a faint,
An' fell into his a'ms.
Well, son, tha wus anothah stir;
We young ones thought her dead:
Ole Mause, I b'lieve, he thought so too,
Fah he plum lost his head.
Ole Miss, wus sick fah quite a spell,
An' mad right thue it all;
Fah when ole Mause cumed grinnin' roun',
She'd turn an' face de wall.
So things went on, until one day,
He axed her, how she felt,
She reached out wid her ole time smile,
So he cumed tha an' knelt.
Dey made it up, right dah an' den,
An' as de day was fa',
He took her up into his a'ms,
An' brung her down de sta'.
An' aftah dat, I tell you, son,
Ole Mause, he let us be,
An' doe he slashed de othah slaves,
Pete, Sue, an' me went free.
An' so de time went spinnin' on,
Wid not a keer nor plan;
I didn't know whut trouble wus,
Till I wus nigh a man.
Ole Fairfax owned my fathah, son,
Dey lived across de creek,
De white folks al'ays let him come,
Three nights in ev'ry week.
Of coase he had his Sundays, too,
Great days dey use to be,
Fah all de blessed day he'd have,
We young ones, bout his knee.
Or else, he'd take us all to church,
All breshed up neat an' new,
Wid Mammy hanging to his arm,
An' leading little Sue.
An' Mammy's eyes 'ud be so bright,
When she had Pappy near;
She'd laugh an' giggle like a gal,
But tyrin' times drawed near.
Ole Mause an' Fairfax wus fast friends;
A pa' uv roscals dey;
In gamblin', cheatin', an' de like,
Dey bofe had heap to say.
So bofe got mixed up in a scrape,
Wid Richmond's bank, an' den,
Dey bofe sold ev'ry slave dey had,
To keep out uv de pen.
I tell you soon de good white-folks,
Wus good in time uv ease;
But soon as hawd times cummed tha' way,
Dey'd change, "quick as you please.
Soon as Miss Nancy seed de trap,
Ole Mause had done walked in,
She changed right dah, an who but she!
A-helpin' him to sin.
Dey talked an' planned togethah, long;
An', as de days flew by,
Miss Nancy changed an' got so cross,
Dat Mammy use to cry.
One mawnin', jest to pick a fus,
She said she missed a pie;
When Mammy said dey all wus tha,
She said, she told a lie.
'Dat pie wus in her cabin, hid;
She wus a vixen, bold;
An' ef she didn't bring it back,
She'd have her whooped an' sold.'
Well, son, you see dat wus her scheme,
To sell her, wid de rest;
An' aftah dat, she made it plain,
To all uv us, I 'fess.
An' so, at last, de day rolled 'round,
When all, exceptin' I,
Wus put upon de block an' sold,
To any one who'd buy.
Oh, son! You don't know whut it is,
To see yo' loved ones sold,
An' hear de groans, an' see de tears,
Uv young, as well as ole.
An' see dem white men bus'lin 'roun',
A-feelin' uv yo' a'm,
An' havin' you to run an' skip,
An' caper till you's wa'm.
An' all de while, wid questions, keen,
An' wid a watchful eye,
Not keerin' how yo' h'a't might ache,
Jest so you's strong an', spry.
Po' Mammy! How kin I fahgit,
Her pa'tin' from us all?
Dat pa'tin', son, will 'bide wid me,
Until de Lo'd will call!
'Way down de rivah, she wus sold,
Alone, wid no kin nigh;
Her tendah h'a't broke 'fo' she left,
I know she's long on High.
An' Pappy, Pete, an' little Sue,
Wus sent their dif'rent ways,
An' not one has my eyes beheld,
Since dem sad, pa'tin', days.
Oh son, you don't know how I felt,
When all dat stir wus past!
Sometimes I'd git to grievin' so,
I thought I couldn't last.
De empty cabins all aroun',
De stables empty, too,
Miss Nancy, cryin' day an' night
Ole Mause a-lookin' blue.
I tell you son, dem tryin' days,
Aw burnt into my soul:
I feel de pain, I see it all,
Same as dem days uv old.
Ah well! De sun will sometimes shine,
E'en in a po' slave's life;
De Lo'd healed up my broken h'a't,
By sendin' me a wife.
Miss Nancy wus as good to her,
An' splite her jest as bad,
As she did mammy long befo',
Sometimes it made me sad.
Ole Mause had prospered, bought mo' slaves,
Ole Miss wus sweet an' kind,
My little ones an' Charlotte dear,
Had pushed my grief behind.
I al'ays wus Miss Nancy's pet,
She made it very plain;
An' I must stay, in all my grief,
She tried to ease my pain.
An' now, dat I wus gay once mo',
An' happy as could be,
She petted Charlotte an' my chaps,
An' seemed as pleased as me.
So time sped on widout a keer,
Save whut had long since past,
Till Ole Mause's health begin to fail,
An' son, he went down fast.
He took on scan'lous in dem days,
When he saw death wus nigh,
He cussed an' to' from mawn till night,
It made Miss Nancy cry.
He nevah had been conquered, son,
By any living thing,
So, when grim Death lay hold uv him,
He fit ha'd, 'gainst de sting.
But, son, at last he'd found his match,
Fah spite uv all his rage,
Ole Satan flung his fi'ry hook,
An' pulled him in his cage.
You nevah seed a sinnah die,
So son you jest don't know;
You could've heard Ole Maustah cuss,
Fuh half a mile or mo'.
He axed me fuh a glass uv gin,
He jest wus crazy med,
He bit de rim from off de glass,
An' spit it on de bed.
An' den he yelled, "Look at him, Si!
"Drive that black dog away!
He's snapping at my throat, you see,
Ketch hold his chain, I say!"
He would've sprung plum out de bed,
Had I not held him in,
Den, wid a long an' doleful yell,
He died in all his sin.
De wah, dat had been grumblin' roun',
Broke full about dis time,
De slaves begun a-walkin' off,
To suit their own free mind.
Ole Miss wus cryin' day an' night,
An' beggin' me to stay,
While Charlotte urged me, on de sly,
To go North, fah away.
I looked into her pleadin' eyes,
So helpless, trustin' me,
An' den, upon my little chaps,
An' manhood said, "Be free!"
Ole Missus cumed down to de gate;
To bid fahwell she tired,
But she jest held fast bofe our hands,
An' cried, an' cried, an' cried.
An' so we cumed up to dis state,
An' worked on, bes' we could,
A-trustin' al'ays in de Lo'd,
An' tryin' to be good.
We raised our chaps, dey all done well,
An' now have settled down,
Exceptin' Jane, our baby gal,
Who you aw co'ting now.
You say, you want her fah yo' wife?
I know, uv co'se you do;
I give consent, fah son you see,
I al'ays did like you.
Dat lifts a burden from my mind,
You're young, an' good, an' true,
We've lived to see our othahs thrive,
We want Jane settled, too.
Take good keer uv our baby, son,
A tendah child she be,
Why, look! Here she au' Charlotte comes;
She's told her Ma you see.