Narrative of Sojourner Truth
LAST DAYS OF BOMEFREE.
Isabella and Peter were permitted to see the remains of their mother laid in their last narrow dwelling, and to make their bereaved father a little visit, ere they returned to their servitude. And most piteous were the lamentations of the poor old man, when, at last,
also were obliged to bid him "Farewell!" Juan Fernandes, on hi!ate island, was not so pitiable an object as this poor lame man. Blind and crippled, he was too superannuated to think for a moment of taking care of himself, and he greatly feared no persons would interest themselves in
22his behalf. 'Oh,' he would exclaim, 'I had thought God would take me first,--Mau-mau was so much smarter than I, and could get about and take care of herself;--and I am
to become of me? I can't do any thing more--my children are all gone, and here I am left helpless and alone.' 'And then, as I was taking leave of him,' said his daughter, in relating it, 'he raised his voice, and cried aloud like a child--
Oh, how he
! I HEAR it
--a! mber it as well as if it were but yesterday--
poor old man
!!! He thought
had d!!! my heart bled within me at the sight of his misery. He begged me to get permission to come and see him sometimes, which I readily and heartily promised him.' But when all had left him, the Ardinburghs, having some feeling left for their faithful and favorite slave, 'took turns about' in keeping him--permitting him to stay a few weeks at one house, and then a while at another, and so around. If, when he made a removal, the place where he was going was not too far off, he took up his line of march, staff in hand, and asked for no assistance. If it was twelve or twenty miles, they gave him a ride. While he was living in this way, Isabella was twice permitted to visit him. Another time she walked twelve miles, and carried her infant in her arms to see him, but when she reached the place where she hoped to find him, he had just left for a place some twenty miles distant, and she never saw him more. The last time she
see him, she found him seated on a rock, by the-road side, alone, and far from any house. He was then migrating from the house of one Ardinburg to that of another, several miles distant. His hair was white like wool--he was almost blind--and his gait was more a creep than a walk--but the weather was warm
23and pleasant, and he did not dislike the journey. When Isabella addressed him, he recognized her voice, and was exceeding glad to see her. He was assisted to mount the wagon, was carried back to the famous cellar of which we have spoken, and there they held their last earthly conversation. He again, as usual, bewailed his leceliness,--spoke in tones of anguish of his many children, saying, "They are all taken away from me! I have now not one to give me a cup of cold wa! sh;why should I live and not die?" Isabella, whose heart yearned over her father, and who would have made any sacrifice to have been able to be with, and take care of him, tried to comfort, by telling him that 'she had heard the white talks say, that all the slaves in the State would be freed In ten years, and that then she would come and take care of him.' 'I would take just as good care of you as Mau-mau would, if she was here'--continued Isabel. 'Oh, my child,' replied he, 'I cannot
that long.' 'Oh
, daddy, do live, and I will take such
care of you,' was her rejoinder. She now says, 'Why, I thought then, in my ignorance that he
live, if he
. I just as much thought so, as I ever thought
thing in my life--and I insistde on his living: but he shook his head, and insisted be could not.'
But before Bomefree's good constitution would yield other to age, exposure, or a strong desire to die, the Ardinburghs again tired of him, and offered freedom to two old slaves--Ceesar, brother of Mau-mau Bett, and his with Betsey--on condition that they should take care of james. (I was about to say, 'their brother-in-law'--but as slaves are neither
in law, the idea of their being brothers-in-law is truly ludicrous.) And althogh they were too old and infirm to take care of themselves,
24(Cæsar having been afflicted for a long time with fever-sores, and his wife with the jaundice,) they eagerly accepted the boon of freedom, which had been the life-long desire of their souls--though at a time when emancipation was to them little more than destitution, and was a freedom more to be desired by the master than the slave. Sojourner declares of the slaves in their ignorance, that 'their thoughts are no longer than her finger.'