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    CHAPTER II.
  --  BEREAVEMENT--CHANGE OF MASTER AND HOME--UNJUST
  --  DEMANDS--PUNISHMENT ESCAPED.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER IV.
  --  COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE--A SLAVEHOLDER'S IDEA OF ITS
  --  REQUIREMENTS--SEPARATION.

Veney, Bethany
The Narrative of Bethany Veney, slave woman

- CHAPTER III. -- RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES.

CHAPTER III.
RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCES.


I come now to a phase in my experience which aroused the impressions made upon me so long before in the blackberry pasture.

At Powell's Fort, not far from where I now lived, was the Mount Asa school-house, where the different religious denominations held their meetings. My master's brother, Jerry Kibbler, and his sister Sally had been to a camp meeting, and got "religion." They came home determined their religion should help others; and, through their influence, this little school-house had been fitted up with pulpit and seats, and now there was to be a series of revival meetings held there. I had never been to any kind of a meeting since I was a little girl, and then my mistress had sometimes taken me along for company.

At this time, Miss Ellen Mills was spinning wool at Mr. Jonathan Grandstaff's; and one night, as it was growing dusk, she came down to master's, to see if some of the family would go to meeting with her. No one cared to go; and Miss Lucy, turning to me, said: "There is Betty. Take Betty. She will be company for you." So I went. The minister was preaching when we entered; and I have no recollection of anything he said in his sermon, but, when he took his seat, he sang the hymn,--

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"Then let this feeble body fail,
Or let it faint or die,
My soul shall quit this mournful vale,
And soar to worlds on high,
Shall join those distant saints,
And find its long-sought rest."

It was a hymn of many verses (I afterwards got an old woman to teach them to me); and there was such tenderness in his voice and such solemnity in his manner that I was greatly affected. When the singing was over, he moved about among the congregation; and, coming close to me, he said, "Girl, don't you want religion? don't you want to be happy when you die?" Then he asked me to promise him that, when I got home, I would go upon my knees and ask God to give me the witness that I was his. I made him no answer; but, as soon as I reached home and was alone, I knelt down, and in my feeble and ignorant way begged to be saved. From that day to this, I have been praying and trying to do as I thought my heavenly Master has required of me; and I think I have had the witness of the Spirit.

So, night after night, I went to the little school-house, and had many precious seasons. Master Jerry and Miss Sally were very kind to me, and tried to show me the way to be a Christian.

But there came a time when Master David said he was not going to have me running to meeting all the time any longer. He had decided to send me up to old Mr. Levers, two miles away, there to stay until I should get over my "religious fever," as he called it. Accordingly, I went as directed; but, when it came night, I asked if I might go down to Mount Asa school-house for meeting. The old

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man said: "Yes. You can go; and, as it is so far away, you need not come back here till morning. But go home, and stay with the children, as you always do, and have the care of them." I couldn't understand it, but I went; and, when in the morning Kibbler saw me, he scolded, and sent me off to Levers again. Every night, old Mr. Levers would tell me I could go; and I did, till, in the middle of the meeting one night, Master Kibbler came up to me, and, taking me by the arm, carried me out, scolding and fuming, declaring that old Webster (the minister) was a liar, and that for himself he didn't want such a "whoopin' and hollerin' religion," and, if that was the way to heaven, he didn't "want to go there." After this, my conscience troubled me very much about going. Mr. Levers would tell me to go; but I knew that Master David had forbidden me to do so. One night, I started out, and, as I came to a persimmon-tree, I felt moved to go down on my knees and ask the Lord to help me, and make Master David willing. In a few minutes, I felt very happy. I wanted to remain on my knees, and wished I could walk on them till I could come before Master David. I tried to do so, and was almost surprised to find I could get along so well. At last, I reached the piazza, and was able to enter the room, where I saw him sitting; and, as I did so, I said, "O Master, may I go to meeting?" He saw my position; and, as if "rent by the Spirit," he cried out: "Well, I'll go to the devil if you ain't my match! Yes: go to meeting, and stay there."

After this, I had no trouble from this cause. When I was to be taken into the church, I asked him if he was willing, and he said: "I don't care. If that's your way of getting to heaven, I don't care. I only wish you were all there." So I was baptized, and have been trying, in my poor way ever since to serve the Lord.

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    CHAPTER II.
  --  BEREAVEMENT--CHANGE OF MASTER AND HOME--UNJUST
  --  DEMANDS--PUNISHMENT ESCAPED.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER IV.
  --  COURTSHIP AND MARRIAGE--A SLAVEHOLDER'S IDEA OF ITS
  --  REQUIREMENTS--SEPARATION.