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    CHAPTER VI.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER VIII.

Brown, Josephine
Biography of an American Bondman



"Give me my child!" a mother cried,
"My sweet, my lovely boy--
("Give me my child!" the rocks replied)--
Or else my life destroy!"

Want of money induced Dr. Young to hire William out again, and this time the young slave was placed in the hands of Walker, the negro-trader of whom are have made mention in a preceding chapter. The speculator had noticed William's activity and usefulness as a waiter on the steamboat, and being always on the look-out for valuable slaves, called on Dr. Young, and offered a high price for the piece of property. The Doctor, however, declined selling, whereupon, the trader, wanting a man to look after his slaves that he took to market, resolved to hire William for the period of one year, with the hope of buying him at the expiration of the term. Walker was an uncouth, ill-bred man, with little or no education. Before embarking as a negro-driver, he had been a dray-driver in St. Louis, and had earned, by his own hard labor, the capital with which he commenced in trade. Money was the only God he worshipped, and he knelt at no altar but that erected at the expense of suffering humanity. William shuddered at the idea of having such a man for a master, but there was no alternative.

In no situation could he have been placed to give

him an opportunity of witnessing more scenes of cruelty and outrage than this. The trader had a number of slaves on hand, and immediately prepared to start with his human cattle for the New Orleans market. Between sixty and seventy men and women, chained in pairs, with here and there a mother with a young child unchained, made up the first coffle. The speculator advertised in the Natchez, Vicksburg and New Orleans papers, that he would be there at a given time, with a lot of healthy Negroes, between fifteen and twenty-five years of age. He seldom, however, took down a gang of slaves without having some who were further advanced in years.

Soon after leaving St. Louis, William had to commence preparing the slaves for the market. The old men's gray hairs were plucked from their heads, and their whiskers shaved off clean; and where the white hairs were to numerous, hair dye was used to bring about the desired color. These old men and women were also told how old they were to be, when undergoing an examination by those who might wish to purchase.

Not less than four lots of slaves were purchased by this monster in human shape, and resold further South, during the year that William was with this "soul driver." On the arrival of the trader at New Orleans with his merchandise, swarms of planters and small speculators might be seen making their way to Mr. Walker's slave-pen. Once, when marching his gang to slaves from St. Charles to St. Louis, by land, the trader had among them a woman, with a sick child,

which cried during the most of the first day. Walker repeatedly told the mother if she did not stop the child, he would. On the second morning, as they were leaving the tavern where they had put up over night, the infant again commenced crying. The speculator at once took the child from its mother's arms, turned to the landlady, who was standing in the doorway, and said, --"Here, madam, permit me to present this little nigger to you; it makes such a noise that it affects my nerves." The landlady received the baby from the hands of the negro-trader with a smile, and said,--"I am exceedingly obliged to you, sir, indeed. I take this present as a token of your kindness and generosity." Frantic with grief, the mother fell upon her knees before the inhuman trader, and besought him to give back her child, promising that she would keep it from crying. Walker bade the woman return to the gang with the other slaves, or he would flog her severely. But not until the heavy negro-whip was applied to her shoulders did the almost heart-broken mother leave her dear little child. A few days after, and while on the steamer going to the New Orleans market, this outraged American woman threw herself from the deck of the boat into the waters of the Mississippi, never to rise again.

This heartless, cruel, ungodly man, who neither loved his Maker nor feared Satan, was a fair representative of thousands of demons in human form that are engaged in buying and selling God's children. The more William saw of slavery, while Walker, the more he hated it, and determined to free himself

from its chains. The love of freedom is a sentiment natural to the human heart, and the want of it is felt by him who does not possess it. He feels it a reproach, and with this sting, this wounded pride, hating degradation, and looking forward to the cravings of the heart, the enslaved is always on the alert for an opportunity to escape from his oppressors and to avenge his wrongs. What greater injury him and indignity can be offered to man, than to make him the bond-slave of his fellow-man?

    CHAPTER VI.   Table of Contents     CHAPTER VIII.