The B J~d n Libra I
L i Averrr,
' ; :..r t
THE STRANGER LIFTED TAEM INTO THE GIG.
See page 8.
6-ampilv from Muftlnfic uarnts.
BY HENRY BLEBY.
"NATURE IMPBINTS UPON WHATEVER WE SEE,
THAT HAS A HEART AND LIFE IN IT, 'BE FREE.'S
T. WOOLMER, 2, CASTLE ST., CITY ROAD, E.C.)
AND 66, PATERNOSTER ROW, E.C.
nAMAN BROTHERS AND ILLY,
HAXTON HOUSE, 113, FARRI BDON ROAD,
STOLEN CHILDREN .
VISIT TO AMERICA.
NV the year 1858, I was sta.
tioned in Barbados; and my
health having suffered from
over-exertion at my last
Sphere of. labour, I determined, with
the permission of the Missionary
-Committee, to pay a visit to the
United States of America, hoping
that relaxation and change of climate would restore
my wasted energies; in which I was not disap-
When I arrived in America the anti-slavery
struggle was approaching its climax;' both the
parties concerned were putting forth all their
power, the one to break down and destroy, the
other to strengthen and uphold the domestic insti-
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
tuition, as it was euphemistically designated, by
which more than four millions of human beings
were subjected to slavery. The pro-slavery news-
papers were endeavouring by the grossest mis-
representations to create the impression that
emancipation in the British colonies had been a
total failure, and that the emancipated negroes in
all the islands had degenerated into hordes of
paupers and thieves.
It soon became known that a Missionary from
Barbados had arrived in Boston, where I was
invited to supply for a Sabbath the pulpit of an
absent minister; and some of the leading men
in the anti-slavery movement, including the noble-
hearted, indomitable William Lloyd Garrison, re-
quested me to aid them in refuting the misleading
statements of the pro-slavery press, by describing
the real condition of affairs in the emancipated
colonies. This to me was an easy task, coming, as
I did, from an island where every acre of ground
was cultivated by negro labour, and where crops
of sugar were being raised three or four times as
large as in the days of slavery. I spoke several
times at public meetings, and gave addresses upon
this subject in many of the Congregational and
Methodist Churches in New England: and on the
requisition of a goodly number of the leading
divines and editors in New York, including Dr.
Stevens, Henry Ward Beecher, Dr. Porter, Dr.
Cheever, Horace Greeley, Oliver Johnson, I
VISIT TO AMJEICA.
delivered an address in Dr. Cheever's church on
the results of West India emancipation.
At the request of anti-slavery "friends," I
accompanied Mr. Garrison and others to an anti-
slavery convention atWestchester, in Pennsylvania,
near to the borders of the slave state of Maryland;
where many of the Quaker community resided
and took an active part in the operations of the
"underground railway," by which so many
thousands of fugitive slaves found their way to
freedom in Canada. The convention lasted three
days; and I shall never cease to remember and
appreciate the loving and bountiful hospitality
with which I was entertained amongst the
"friends," at Westchester, and at Philadelphia.
'It was at Philadelphia that I first became
acquainted with some of the facts embraced in
the following narrative; and here I was introduced
to one of the members of the family, whose
romantic history created, for awhile, no small
sensation wherever it became known; exhibiting
as it does, in a most impressive light, the mani-
fold atrocities of slavery.
At Philadelphia I was taken to the anti-slavery
office, where I found a young man of dark com-
plexion, but of respectable appearance, employed
inf the capacity of clerk. He was introduced to
me as William Still. During my stay I had a
good deal of intercourse -. r him, and with Mr.
McKi r, the able and enterprising agent of the
4 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Pennsylvania Anti-slavery Society. From Mr.
Still I first heard of the extraordinary events
which had occurred in his family; the kidnapping
of his two brothers, and the wonderful restoration
of one of them, after enduring the oppressions of
slavery upwards of forty years. From the Rev.
Samuel J. May, of Syracuse, an eminent minister
and one of the leaders of the anti-slavery move-
ment, I obtained further particulars; and also a
printed account of the wonderful adventures of
Peter Still, which enables me to compile the
following story. It serves as an illustration of
the fact that truth is sometimes stranger than
fiction. Possessing all the interest of a novel, it
is a relation of simple matter of fact.
KIDNAPPED AND BOLD INTO SLAVERY.
FAMILY of free coloured
People occupied a small cot-
tage in the outskirts of the
rapidly-growing city of Phil-
S adelphia, near to the banks of the
Delaware river, in the early part of
this century. The family consisted
of father and mother and three children, a girl and
two boys; also a niece of the mother whom she
had taken to live with them, and an old lady who
was grandmother to the little ones. The eldest
boy was named Levin, after his father, and was
between six and seven years of age. The other
little fellow, who was remarkably shrewd and
intelligent, was called Peter, and was between four
and five years old. The parents were highly
esteemed by those who knew them, and gained a
comfortable livelihood for their family by honest
It was a beautiful summer evening, and nature
was arrayed in all her glory, when the mother,
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
having carefully placed her little ones in bed,
without a doubt as to their safety, left the cottage
for a short time accompanied by her daughter and
niece. The grandmother also was absent; the two
boys were the only occupants of the cottage.
When they found themselves thus alone, the
little fellows left their bed and went out into the
street- to play. They ran races down the road,
and gave themselves up to enjoyment; their happy
laugh ringing out clear and free, their eyes gleam-
ing with merriment, their white teeth glistening
in the pleasant light, and contrasting brightly
with the dusky hue of their faces. The only dress
that covered them was a cotton shirt reaching to
their knees, abundantly sufficient in that brigh+
and balmy weather.
As the shades of the evening began to fall
around them, wearied with their active sports,
the little ones began to yearn after their mother.
They looked into the house, where all was still and
lonely. Mother's bed was there, covered with a
clean blanket; but mother was not to be seen.
There also stood grandmother's bed; but grand-
mother was not there. Every article of simple
furniture stood in its accustomed place, but no
sound could they hear within. Where could they
all have gone ?
Frightened with the silence and solitude they
began to cry. At length Levin said, "I reckon
mammy's gone to church. The preachin' must be
-KIDNAPPED AND SOLD INTO SLAVERY.
mighty long! O! I's so hungry! I'se gwine to
meeting' to see if she's thar."
The church they were accustomed to attend
stood in the woods, about a mile off; for coloured
people had no admission to the sanctuaries where
white people worshipped God. It was an old
building, that had formerly been occupied by a
family now living in a large brick house close by.;
The boys had often been at the church with their
father, who kept the key of the building, and
opened it for worship on Sundays, and prayer-
"You better not go thar, I reckon," replied
Peter. Mammy 'll whip you well if you goes to
foller her to meeting' and all about."
"Mammy 0 mammy Thus they called.
upon their mother, and cried because she did not
answer, till their eyes were swollen, and their
pleasant play forgotten.
Their childish grief was broken in upon by the
sound of an approaching vehicle; and lifting up
their eyes they saw a handsome gig, driven by a
tall dark man, with a white hat surmounting a
mass of black glossy, bushy hair. He looked
earnestly at the little boys as he came near, and
checking his horse he stopped, and in apparently
kind tones asked for the cause of their distress.
0, mammy's done gone off, and there's no-
body to give us our supper, and we're so hungry."
Where is your mother ? "
THE STOLEN CHILDREEN.
"Don't know, Sir," replied Levin; "but I
reckon she's gone to church."
"Well, don't you want to ride ? said the
stranger. Jump up here with me, and I'll take
you to your mother. I'm just going to church.
Come, quick! What! no clothes but a shirt ?
go in and get a blanket. It will soon be night,
and.you will be cold."
Unsuspicious of the villany the stranger was
meditating, the little urchins both ran upon this
errand. Levin took the blanket from off his
mother's bed, while Peter snatched the covering
from the couch of his grandmother; and it being
large he tripped and fell over it several times
before he reached the vehicle, for he was in haste
to be restored to his mammy.
The stranger lifted them into the gig, and
placing them between his feet covered them with
the blankets, that they might not be cold. All
the time he was soothing them with kind words,
and assuring them that he would soon take them
to their mother. And away they went very swiftly,
rejoicing in their childish hearts to think how their
mother would wonder when she saw them coming,
and travelling in such unwonted style.
A-fter riding for some time,-how long they
could not guess--they suddenly upset into the
water with a great splash. The driver of the
vehicle, in his haste to accomplish his villany, had
driven too near the brink of the river, and the
KIDNAPPED AND SOLD INTO SLAVEnY.
vehicle had thus been overturned. He soon
rescued the children from the water and raised the
vehicle. The boys were much frightened but not
hurt. Nothing was injured by the accident, and
in a few minutes, once more covered over with the
blankets, they were speeding along the river bank
faster than before.
When the gig stopped again it was at the water
side, and before them lay many boats and vessels
of different kinds. They had never seen anything
like this before, but they had short time to indulge
their wonder and curiosity, for they were hurried
into a boat which left the shore immediately.
SHow long they were on the boat they could not
tell. The children were lulled into security by
promises that they should soon see their mother,
and by gentle words and cakes of marvellous sweet-
ness, with which the stranger had taken care to
supply himself. These were always forthcoming
when they manifested any impatience at the
length of the journey; and their childish hearts
could not distrust one, though a stranger, whose
words and acts were so kind. At length all their
troubles and anxieties were lost in the oblivion of
How far they went in the boat, or by what
other means they travelled they failed to recollect,
but at length they reached a place called Versailles,
in the slave state of Kentucky. Here their self-
constituted guardian placed them in a waggon, with
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
a coloured woman and her child, and conveyed
them to Lexington.
Here they heard their kidnapper addressed as
Kincaid. By this time he had dropped all his
kind words, and no longer regaled them with cakes.
He took them to a plain brick-house, the residence
of a mason named Fisher, who was the proprietor
of a large brick-yard. After some conversation
between these two worthies which the children did
not understand, Kincaid took them to the kitchen,
and presenting them to an elderly negro woman
who was acting as cook, said to the terrified chil-
dren, There, my boys, there is your mother; we
have found her at last."
"No No shrieked the children, that's not
mammy! O, Sir, please do take us back." With
tears and cries they clung to the ruffian who had
so vilely betrayed their confidence, and begged
him not to leave them there.
This scene was soon ended by the interposition
of Fisher, who, giving them a hearty blow on each
cheek, bade them" Hush! You belong to me now,
you little rascals, and I'll have no more of this.
There's aunt Betty, she's your mammy now, and if
you behave yourselves she'll be good to you."
Kincaid soon departed, and they never saw him
again. The ruffian had stolen the poor children
from their parents, and sold them to Fisher, who
became a willing party to this wicked transaction,
paying for Levin a hundred and fifty-five dollars,
KIDNAPPED AND SOLD INTO SLAVERY. 11
(about 32) and for Peter a hundred and fifty
dollars (about 31). Poorchildren! the darkheavy
cloud of slavery now shadowed their young lives.
For the first few weeks the children constantly
talked of going back to their mother-except in
the presence of their master. They were soon
taught that they must not mention that subject
when he was near. He was in the main a kind
indulgent master to his slaves : but were not these
boys his money? why should he allow them to
prate about being stolen, when he had bought, and
paid a good price for them ?
"Father," said John Fisher's young son, "isn't
Philadelphia a free state ? "
Certainly : it is in Pennsylvania."
"Well, then, Ireckon," said the lad," that those
two boys you bought were stolen, for they lived
with their mother near the Delaware river; and
Aunt Betty says that is at Philadelphia. It was
too bad, father, for that man to steal and sell them
here, where they can never hear from their
"Pooh, boy! don't talk like a fool! Most likely
they were sold to Kincaid, and he told them he
would take them to their mother, in order to get
them away without any fuss. And even if he did
steal them, so were all the negroes stolen at first.
I bought these boys and paid for them, and I'll
stop their talk about being free, or I'll break their
black necks. A pretty tale that to go about the
12 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
country; just to spoil the sale if I should happen
to get shut of them! Free, indeed! And what's a
free nigger ? They're better off here than if they
were free, growing up in idleness, and nobody to
take care of them."
Before night the young offenders were
thoroughly kicked and beaten, and impressed with
the assurance that they should be killed outright
if they dared to tell such a tale again. So they
grew cautious, and spoke of the sweet memories of
home and of mother only in whispers to each
other, or to some fellow-sufferer who knew how to
sympathise with their sorrows.
EARLY EXPERIENCE OF SLAVERY.
ORNinthefreedom of a Chris-
Stian land, these poor children
Shad been, through villany,
consigned to the oppressive
and corrupting influences of slavery,
and were constrained to learn its
terrible lessons. They shrank from
the evils which they feared were awaiting them;
but in vain they appealed for pity to the hard-
hearted man who called himself their owner; and
their young hearts, so merry hitherto, became sad
Levin and Peter were not long in divining,
with the tact of childhood, their exact position,
domestic and social; and they soon learnt the
necessity of concealing their true feelings. "A
servant should be merry:" so says the slave-holder.
A gloomy face is a perpetual complaint; and why
should it be tolerated ?
Fisher, the master of the two young slaves, was
a large, fine-looking man with a free and hearty
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
manner, and some kindliness of disposition; but
he never suffered this latter quality to interfere in
business matters; and as, in addition to his brick-
making business, he rented a large plantation about
a mile out of town, he had no time to waste in
unprofitable sentimentalities. How to get the
most work done with the least expense was the
problem alone worthyhis attention; and his success
in business showed that he had considered it wel;.
Mrs. Fisher, their mistress, was a stout woman
with a freckled face, plain and unpretending in
manners and dress, and devoted to her husband
and children. She had two boys, John and Sydney;
and for the first three years that he lived with them,
Peter was their constant playmate. Levin was
sent to work in the brick-yard the second year after
Fisher bought him, he being then between eight
and nine years of age.
At night the little slave boys rolled themselves
up in their blankets, and lay down to sleep on the
floor of their mistress' room. They would often
awake in the morning under the bed, or the bureau,
where the mistress had shoved them with her foot
the night previous, that they might be out of the
way. They had no want of food or clothing; and
if they kept silence about their mother's house on
the Delaware river, they were kindly treated.
But if a word on that forbidden subject reached
the ear of their master, he became furious and
treated them with great cruelty. By stripes and
EARLY EXPERIENCE OF SLAVERY. 15
kicks he taught them that they had no right to
the blessed memory of "home" and mother,"
that they were his property; and that he pos-
sessed unlimited power to silence their restless
The plantation rentedby Mr. Fisher belonged to
a Mrs. Russell, awidow lady. It was situated about
a mile from the city; and directly across was the
residence of the celebrated Henry Clay, one of the
magnates of the country. To this place Peter, while
he was too young to work in the brick-yard, was
sent daily for the cows and to obtain vegetables
from the garden. As he had plenty of leisure time,
being only between six and seven years old, he
spent many pleasant hours in playing with the
slave children of Mr. Clay: and frequently the
merry group would be enlivened by the addition
of Mr. Clay's two sons.
The young Clays were noble boys, glowing with
all the ingenuousness of youth; and Peter's heart
warmed toward them both. Mutual confidence
sprang up between them, and Peter soon confided
to them the sad history of his wrongs. One day
when Mrs. Clay, as was her custom, spoke kindly to
the dusky playmate of her sons, Peter took courage
and recited to her the story of his sorrows; and
asked her if she did not think some .one would
send him back to his mother. She quieted him
with cakes and other delicacies and then gently
dismissed the children to their play.
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Butthebrave-hearted boys, not as yet corrupted
and hardened by contact with the world and with
slavery, longed to do something to help their little
favourite; and they advised him to tell his story
to their father. They felt sure that he whom they
had been taught so greatly to honour could not
fail to do his utmost to redress such a cruel wrong
as Peter and his brother had suffered.
Made sanguine by the generous spirit mani-
fested by his playmates, Peter, the first time he
was alone with his brother, said, O Levin, I
reckon we'll go back toreckly "
"Go back! Whar ? "
Why home to see mother Mass' Theodore
Clay say his father so good to everybody; he know
he'll send us back if we tell him how we got stole ;
says his father allers helps folks whar gets in
Mass' Theodore say so? Reckon then we
will; kase Mr. Clay mighty good to all his people.
Hi Mas'r John Fisher you'se gwine lose these'
Then, with many comical grimaces, Levin
executed a series of remarkable shuffles, indicating
the confusion that awaited "Mas'r John."
Not long after this conversation, Peter saw Mr.
Clay standing near the court-house with a letter
in his hand. His little heart bounded within him
as he ran towards the great statesman, 0 Mr.
Clay he exclaimed, "I'm stole."
EARLY EXPERIENCE OF SLAVERY.
"Stole who stole you, and where were you
stolen from ?"
I's stole from my father and mother on Dela-
ware river. Folks say that's Philadelphia; but I
don't know. Please, Sir, won't you send me back
to my mother ? "
To whom do you belong ?"
"I 'long to Mas'r John Fisher, in Thaine
Street, and I want's to go back to my mother."
"Well, my boy, I have no time to talk to you
now: you carry this letter to Major Pope. You
know where he lives; and then come back and I'll
attend to you."
Awhy ran the child dancing with delight and
crying, "I's free! I's free! I's gwine to my
"What is that you say ? asked a gentleman
who met him. I's gwine to be free,' said the
lad. Mr. Clay gwine to send me back to my
mother, kase I was stole away from her."
"Now here, you little negro," said the man,
who knew the child, and understood the temper of
his master, "you'd better not talk about that to
Mr. Clay, for he will tell your master, and old John
Fisher will be sure to skin you."
Thus rudely, but kindly, perhaps, was the
bright vision dispelled which hope had presented
to poor Peter. With drooping head and tearful
eye he returned to tell his brother of their disap-
pointment; and after that they both avoided Mr.
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Clay. Mr. Clay was among the first and greatest
men of his country with many good and amiable
traits in his character; but the great statesman
was himself a slave-holder, and he had not courage
to face the odium of interfering to restore the
stolen boy to his mother. Thus ignobly did the
great Henry Clay become the associate of thieves,
by tacitly protecting them in this great wrong.
Still hope, that springs eternal in the human
breast," did not desert the boys. They cherished
the remembrance that they were born free, and
looked for something to turn up some day or
other to restore them to liberty; a hope that was
destined to be realized in one of them; to be
blighted in the other.
When Peter was nine years old he was sent to
labour in the brick-yard as "off-bearer." Three
thousand bricks a day was the task for two boys.
If one of them chanced to be disabled by any
means, his companion must "off-bear the whole.
The moulder must not be hindered.
These moulders, slaves themselves, were often
cruel tyrants. The boys, though seldom abused
by the master himself, suffered much from the
caprices and passions of these men; and their
master permitted any punishment they chose to
Their favourite mode of chastisement was
called standing in the wheelbarrow." The culprit
was placed with a foot on each side of the wheel,
EARLY EXPERIENCE OF SLAVERY.
and then made to reach over and grasp a handle
in each hand. The off-bearers were then com-
pelled to whip him with cow-hides (pieces of hide
twisted into the form of a whip). If he lay still
and took twenty-four lashes without attempting
to rise he was let off. If he made an effort to
change his position before that number was
inflicted, the moulder, who presided over the
punishment and counted the strokes, commenced
again at one," and caused the twenty-four to be
One day a large man, named Charles, was put
into the wheelbarrow, and received over three
hundred lashes before he took the twenty-four
without moving. Peter was one of the boys
selected to inflict this horrible punishment; and
they were all trembling with terror. If one of
them, through pity, failed to strike with all his
power, the moulder, who stood by with a cowhide,
punished this merciful short-coming by a violent
blow on his own back.
SOLD TO A NEW MASTER.
MID such scenes passed the
early youth of the stolen
Sboys. They were both dis-
tinguished by great mildness
of temper and cheerfulness of dis-
position which made them almost
universal favourites so that they
escaped much cruel treatment that fell to the lot
of some of their companions. But a change came
upon them. When Peter was about thirteen years
old and his brother near fifteen their owner,
Fisher, determined upon removing to Cincinnatti
where a brother of his had taken up his abode.
This rendered it necessary that he should dispose
of his brick-yard and sell his slaves; for Cincin-
natti being in the Free State of Ohio he could
not own his slaves there.
Levin and Peter were overwhelmed with grief
when they heard of the intended sale. With all
their apparent humility, and submissive, gentle
manners, deep in their young hearts was the
SOLD TO A IEW MAgTEB. 21
fondly-cherished feeling that freedom was their
natural birth-right. There was degradation in the
thought, young as they were, of being trafficked
like horses. Besides, they had never ceased to
cherish the hope that they should be sought after
by their parents, and changing owners would
lessen the chances of their being discovered. But
the sale was resolved on.
Mr. Fisher found some difficulty in disposing
of the boys, for their old story of having been
stolen from a Free State had not been forgotten;
and men hesitated to buy where there was un-
certainty about the title. As the master confidently
affirmed that he had so conquered them that it was
many years since they had been heard to mention
it, a sale was at length effected. The purchaser
was a Mr. Nathaniel Gist, of Lexington, who gave
four-hundred-and-fifty dollars for each of the
brothers (about 93 15s.)
The change of owners was far from being
agreeable to the young slaves. Nat Gist, or Mas'r
Nattie, as he was generally called, lived in a small
brick house in Hill Street. He was a short, stout
grey-headed man about fifty-six years of age. He
was a Virginian by birth, and had been a soldier.
He swore freely and drank hard, being intoxicated
every day; -and as he was a bachelor his home
was seldom visited by any humanising influences.
Nat Gist owned a brick-yard, and twenty slaves
called him master. These he fed sparingly,
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
clothed scantily, and worked hard. In the winter
when brick-making was necessarily suspended, he
was accustomed to hire out his slaves to those who
would pay the highest price for their services.
Besides Levin and Peter he had two other boys,
named Alfred and "Allison. These were brothers
who had been sold away from their parents in
Virginia. Some years after their mother with
several of her children effected her escape to the
free land of Canada by the underground rail-
Peter soon became a favourite with his new
master. But he carefully abstained from showing
his preference either by word or act. He believed
that there was nothing so good for niggers as the
liberal use of the cowhide and whip. While
therefore he kept Peter near him as much as
possible to wait upon him, he never abated one
The underground railway is a figurative expression, indicating
the various means by which fugitive slaves were aided by benevolent
individuals in making good their escape to a land of freedom. Some
of these are well described in Mrs. Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin.
Large numbers of fugitives from the slave states escaped to Canada,
or to the Eastern States of the Union, notwithstanding the utmost
vigilance of the slave-holders and the efforts of slave-hunters
employed to track and overtake them. The arrangements made by
the Quakers, and other friends of hlrianity, to help the slaves on
their way were so perfect, that no traces of the runaways could be
discovered. One of the planters, to whom this was altogether
inexplicable, remarked concerning some of his lost ones, They must
have got off by an underground railway." It was a happy idea.
The anti-slavery friends took hold of it; and it soon became the
custom to say concerning the runaways, They are off by the
underground railway." The stations were numerous all the way
from the Slave States to Canada.
SOLD TO A NEW MASTER.
jot of his severity towards him. An incident
occurred soon after he purchased the boys which
serves to show his method of governing his slaves.
He had come home as usual much intoxicated,
and ordered Peter to scatter a couple of bundles
of oats on the ground for his horse. The boy
obeyed but strewed them a little more widely than
In a few minutes his master inquired, "Did
you give Ned his oats ? "
"Yes, Sir. I did as you told me."
What did you throw them all about for "
Why, Mas'r, you tell me to scatter them."
Quick came down the old man's cane on the
boy's head. I didn't tell you to scatter them all
over the yard." Then with many fierce oaths, he
said Follow me to the house. I'll give you a
lesson to remember. Peter walked slowly behind
him to the door.
Now take off your shirt, you rascal, and cross
The boy obeyed: and his master, after tying
his hands together, drew them down over his
knees, where he confined them by means of a stick
thrust under his knees. He then beat him fiercely
with a cowhide until his drunken rage was appeased.
There,/you black cuss," said he, when he had
finished; I mean to make a good nigger of you,
and there's no way to do it, only by showing you
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
This method of confining a negro for punish-
ment was called "bricking," andwas much practised
in slave-land. The culprit was frequently left in
the brick several hours-sometimes, indeed, all
night; and in such cases the protracted straining
of the muscles caused intense pain.
About this time, a few right-minded persons in
Lexington, opened a Sabbath School for the in-
struction of such slaves as might be permitted by
their masters to learn. This excited the high in-
dignation of Mas'r Nattie, the owner of the boys.
"I won't have my niggers spoiled by getting learning.
No, indeed! Niggers are bad enough without
being set up by such rascals as these Sunday-
school teachers. They'd better not meddle with
my property. If I hear of one of my boys going
near the school, I'll give him such a flogging that
he'll never need any more education."
Levin submitted. But in the breast of Peter
there was an intense thirst for knowledge; and
even this terrible threat could not deter him from
making an effort to obtain it. Peter went to the
The teacher received him kindly, but inquired
for his "pass."
Ain't got none, Massa."
"I am sorry," said the teacher, "for we are
not permitted to instruct any servants without the
consent of their masters."
Peter knew this very well: and he also knew
SOLD TO A NEW MASTER.
that to apply to his owner for a "pass would only
be to ask for whipping; but he did so long to
learn to read he could not go away. He looked
around on the pupils: they were all slaves and
their masters allowed them to come, and none of
them he thought could learn quicker than he. He
determined to make a desperate effort to remain
that day at least. So he told the teacher,
"M as'r don't care nothing' 'bout my coming I'll
get a pass next Sunday." He was permitted to
The next Sabbath when the school was opened
Peter presented himself among the pupils. The
other boys presented their papers : he had none
to offer. Poor Peter had not been taught the evil
of lying among the other lessons of slavery, nor
had he learnt we may not do evil that good may
come." He had "forgotten to ask his master," but
would be sure to remember it next Sunday.
On the third Sabbath he was no better off.
"Mas'r go away early in the morning. He no
hab time to get pass." He was suffered to remain,
but assured that no such excuses would be accepted
The fourth Sabbath came, and Peter walked
boldly into the school. Pass, boy," as usual
was the first salutation.
"Ain't got none," replied he; "Mass' Nattie,
say don't need none: no use, no how "
The teacher saw now the true state of the case.
26 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
He would gladly have aided to illuminate that
young intellect, so eagerly stretching towards the
light; but he was compelled to thrust it back into
the darkness, lest a prejudice should be aroused
that would paralyse all his efforts. So he posi-
tively forbade Peter's future entrance to the school
without a pass. Peter had in these four Sundays
learnt the alphabet, and could spell a few words.
Hard and bitter he felt to be the fate that con-
signed him to hopeless ignorance.
said Peter, "if I could only learn to
read, I could find out the way to write myself.
Then I might write letters to Philadelphia, and let
mother know what's come of her chilluns. I's
seen white boys running off to keep clar of the Mas'r
in the morning. Reckon if I could go to school,
nobody wouldn't cotch me running off that way."
HIRED TO A TOBACCO FACTORY.
OUR summers the boys had
worked in the brick-yard
when their masterhired them
to a Mr. George Norton, a
tobacconist. Peter and Levin had
the winter months. One of these
winters Peter spent as waiter in the service of
a Mr. Sandford Keene, from whom and his amiable
and noble-hearted wife he experienced genuine
kindness. But to this Norton they were hired for
a whole year. Little cause as they had to love
Mas'r Nattie, they dreaded to exchange him for
this new master, for of him report never spoke
Norton was a self-complacent, consequential
person, full of pomposity, and cruel and hard-
hearted as he was conceited. He had an overseer
named Kisich, small, and pale, and lame, and
awkward in his manners, A "rich brogue"
plainly indicated the native of the Emerald Isle.
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
He had been a clamorous brawler for liberty in his
own country. But here he had become the callous,
degraded slave-driver who, when he found
"His fellow guilty of a skin,
Not coloured like his own,"
could see him bought and sold, and tasked, and
beaten without a single impulse of pity.
Thirty men and boys were employed in Norton's
establishment. Three were white. They acted as
spies and informers, making the privilege of acting
the tyrant over their dark-skinned fellows a sort of
compensation for the degradation which in slave-
land is inseparable from the necessity of labour.
The boys succeeded in pleasing Norton by their
ready obedience, and their sprightly, nimble move-
ments. Yet they won no praise. It was but their
duty, and they had reason to rejoice if they escaped
the cow-hide. They were brought up to regard
the fear of punishment as the only motive to
obedience; and but for their brother-love, and the
dear, sweet memory of "mother," their hearts
must have grown callous and incapable of affection-
Levin and Peter revelled in the fond remem-
brance of that bright morning of their young lives
before the appearance of the kidnapper brought a
dark cloud upon their destiny. Humble was the
cabin which they delighted to remember, but the
sunshine came freely in at the open door, and no
HIRED TO A TOBACCO FACTORY.
harsh word was ever heard within the lowly walls.
How sweet and soothing were these cherished re-
trospects! Often, when their daily tasks were
finished, the two brothers would stroll away from
the noisy mirth of their companions at the twilight
hour, and in low tones converse of home, and dis-
cuss the possibilities of an escape from slavery.
Many plans of escape they suggested to each
other. But all of them required more knowledge
than they possessed or could acquire. Then there
were so many who failed in the attempt, and were
always fearfully punished. The gaol was always
crowded with recaptured fugitives. No, they could
not run away.
But, perhaps, some day they might buy their
freedom. They could work nights and Sundays,
and earn the money, and then they would be safe.
In these bright anticipations they joyously in-
dulged, until they learnt through the sad experi-
ence of others how uncertain was even this fair and
open way of obtaining their freedom. The history
of one man, with whom they became acquainted in
Lexington, chilled their ardent hopes, while it
taught them a lesson of caution, and deepened their
distrust of seeming friends.
Spencer was a fine-looking intelligent mulatto,
belonging to a Mr. Williams, who kept a lottery-
office in Lexington. His master hired him out;
usually to hotel or livery-stable keepers, and some-
times to Spencer himself. He was a favourite
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
with the white people, and had excellent opportu-
nities of making money by extra services about the
hotels and stables, and by his skill as a veterinary
practitioner. He sometimes speculated in lottery-
tickets. But here success availed him little. He
drew at one time a house and property in Lexing-
ton, worth 30,000 dollars, and was deprived of it.
Many white persons declared that it would be
robbery to take it from him; but it was deemed an
unsafe precedent to allow a negro to acquire so
much property. So the prize was adjudged to the
gentleman who stood second on the list of com-
After this Spencer conceived the idea of buying
his own freedom, and proposed the subject to his
master. Williams received the suggestion favour-
ably, and fixed the price at 1,000 dollars. Habitu-
ally industrious, Spencer had now a new spur to
his industry. So untiring was his diligence, that
in a few years he had paid his master within
twenty-five dollars of the whole sum, and the goal
of liberty was just in sight. Then the sweet cup
of blessing was dashed from his lips. The unmiti.
gated scoundrel Williams, having robbed the poor
fellow of his earnings, denied having ever promised.
him liberty, and bade him never to mention the
subject more. Spencer was sorely disappointed,
but not discouraged; and when, not long after, a
gentleman, who had heard the history of the decep-
tion, offered to purchase-him, and give him his
HIRED TO A TOBACCO FACTORY.
freedom as soon as he could earn the price which
he must pay to Williams, the hopeful slave eagerly
and thankfully accepted the offer.
The bargain was soon concluded, and with
earnest zeal the poor fellow gave himself to his
labours. He took the precaution this time to ask
for a receipt whenever he made a payment. This
was readily given, and Spencer thought himself
safe. But he had fallen into the hands of another
villain. When he had paid 930 dollars, his owner
suddenly left the town ; and before he had any idea
of such a change approaching, an agent of the bad
man who owned him had sold him to another master.
Indignant at this outrageous fraud, he produced the
receipts for his money, which he had carefully pre-
served. But this availed him nothing. They did
not shew to whom the money had been paid. And
even if they had not been fraudulently written,
they would have profited nothing; for the law held
that a slave's money, as well as his person and
labour, belonged to his master.
Even yet hope was not extinguished in the
breast of this poor unfortunate slave. Again he
tried a man who was lavish in his expressions of
sympathy, and loud in the denunciation of. the
baseness from which he had suffered; but it was
only to be again betrayed. Into the hands of this
pretended friend-for the third time-he paid the
hard-earnedpriceof his redemption. And when he
shouldhave received his free papers, he was chained
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
in a gang, and sent to the cotton and sugar-fields
of the South, there, if he did not yield to despair
and commit suicide, to wear out a most wretched
existence in wasting, unrequited toil. The world
could scarcely furnish a parallel to the ruffianism
and villany that were to be found in the Slave States
of America, until a just and holy God let loose His
vengeance upon them.
To the ears of Peter and his brother came many
tales like this, and the lessons of caution they con-
veyed the youths treasured in their inmost hearts;
while, by apparent contentment and cheerful man-
ners, they won the confidence of those in whose
power they were placed.
They had been half the year at Norton's, and
neither of them as yet had fallen into any serious
difficulty with their brutal master. They had wit-
nessed many exhibitions of his cruelty, and one
that occurred about this time filled them with
Norton's personal servant, a large black man,
incurred the displeasure of his haughty master.
He was immediately put in a brick, and in the pre-
sence of all the men and boys Norton inflicted on
his naked back three hundred lashes with a cow-
hide. The blood gushed out, and ran in streams
upon the brick-floor of the shop.
When the stick was removed from under his
knees, the poor victim was unable to rise. At this
his tormentor was enraged. He seized a board that
HIRED TO A TOBACCO FACTORY.
lay near full of shingle nails, and with it struck
him several violent blows, every one of which
brought the blood in streams, as if he had been
pierced with a lancet.
Here young Peter's habitual caution failed him
for a moment. His eyes, usually so mild, flashed
with fierce indignation; and he declared in a low
voice to his brother that George Norton should
never strip him and put him in a brick to whip
him-he would die first.
The poor lad's remark was overheard and
reported to the tyrant, who from that day only
waited an excuse to punish him. An opportunity
thus sought is soon found.
The next Saturday evening, as the boys were
sweeping the shop, an old woman came in and
asked for a little tobacco. Peter, being nearest the
door, gathered up a few of the sweepings and
handed them to her. On the following morning it
was Peter's turn to make a fire in the sweat-room.
Having done this, he locked the door of the shop
and went to his old master's, where he usually
spent his Sundays.
Peter had left the shop but a short time when
Mr. Norton took a fancy to go in and look at the
tobacco. He tried the door and it was locked, the
key being nowhere to be found. He turned away
very angry. Early on the Monday morning he was
in the shop, anger gleaming from his eye, and a
dark frown upon his countenance. It was clear
34 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
that something was wrong. Presently the great
Whose business was it to make a fire in the
sweat-room yesterday? "
"Mine, Sir," said Peter.
Did you attend to it ? "
You didI Where were you when I came
"Don't know, Sir. Reckon I was up at home."
Where is your home, you rascal ? "
"Up to Mas'r Nattie, Sir."
"I'll let you know, nigger, that this is your
home, and that I am your master." Saying which
he strode out of the shop in a rage. It was his law
that no one in his shop should be called "master"
Before sunrise next morning Norton appeared
at the door. He was trimming a switch and
whistling, as he never did, except when his brutal
nature was about to revel in the infliction of
punishment. It was a real pleasure to him to
lIok upon the sufferings of others.
After taking a few turns up and down the
shop, he spoke:
Where were you yesterday P "
"Here, Sir, strippin' tobacco."
"Well, Sunday, where were you "
HIRED TO A TOBACCO FACTORY.
Home to Mas'r Nattie's, Sir."
The hot blood mounted to Norton's face. "I
am your master, you black rascal, aid I'll let you
know that you are to go to no other home than
this. Who swept the shop on Saturday? "
"We boys, all of us, Sir."
"Who was it that gave tobacco to an old
woman ? "
I gave her a handful of sweepings, Sir; no
'count, no how."
Well, you'll find I am your master, and you
are to obey me. Come here, and lie down across
Peter obeyed, wondering that he had not been
ordered to strip. It was not Mr. Norton's custom
to whip his servants over their clothes, and the boy
had on a new suit of blue linsey. He had heard
what Peter had said a few days before, and
thought it best to avoid an unnecessary contest.
When the boy was extended over the box,
Norton struck him a blow with all his might.
Peter lifted himself up. "Lie down, you nigger,"
and he renewed the blows. Peter raised himself
up again. "Lie down! cried the tyrant, with a
curse. Peter obeyed, and many blows fell hard
and fast. Once more he rose. "Lie down, I say,
vou cursed nigger. If you move again till I bid
you, I will beat you till you cannot move "
The boy stood upon his feet and looked his
tormentor steadily in the face. "I have laid down
THE STOLEN CHILLAEN.
three times for you to beat me when I have done
nothing wrong. I will not lie down again."
Norton instantly seized him, and attempted to
force him across the box, but failed. "Here, Mr.
Kisich, Ladlock, all of you, help me conquer this
nigger," plenteously larding his speech with oaths
Quickly came the overseer and the other white
men in the shop, and all fell upon him at once.
Peter screamed Murder !" and fought with all
his strength. The ruffians tried to bind his hands,
but he struggled so fiercely that they were in
danger of breaking his arms. They succeeded in
throwing him upon the floor, and there he struggled
and screamed, and bit their legs and ancles, and
they despaired of being able to flog him, unless
they could succeed in tying him.
At length they managed to pass a slip-noose
over his head, and got it fastened about his waist.
They dragged him by the rope to the back part of
the shop, where stood a number of large tobacco
presses, about eight feet high. If they could hang
him up on one of these he would be entirely at
their mercy. As they raised the rope to fasten it
to the top of the press, he sprang aside and crept
into the narrow space between it and the wall.
Here he remained for some time bleeding and
panting, his blood-shot eyes glaring at his perse-
cutors, while they were engaged in beating him
over the head with cow-hides and hoop-poles, and
HIRED TO A TOBACCO FACTORY.
thrusting sticks and pieces of iron against his
bruised flesh. At last they dragged him from his
refuge, and he was too exhausted to continue the
struggle. He made no further resistance; and
Norton, roused to fiend-like fury, with bitter oaths
and curses threw him across a barrel and whipped
his bleeding back with a cow-hide until his ven-
geance was satisfied, swearing he was the first
nigger that ever tried to fight him, and that he
should be humbled if it cost his life.
When this episode of cruelty was finished,
Norton and his aids took themselves off to break-
fast, and the negroes, agape with horror at the
scene, returnedto their work. The poor, trembling
victim, fearfully bruised and cut, with only a few
shreds left of his new linsey suit, crept out of the
shop and succeeded in gaining his old master's
residence on the hill. Mas'r Nattie had gone
down town, but Aunt Mary, the cook, pitied the
sufferer, and dressed his wounds. She had two
sons, who were slaves.
Peter rightly guessed that his owner, cruel as
he was himself, would not like to see his property
damaged by others. He had no gentle word for
the sufferer. He would not intimate to a nigger '
that a white man could do wrong, but he sought
Norton and-cursed him soundly for having abused
a boy belonging to him.
Peter remained a week with Mas'r Nattie, and
was then sent back to the shop, where he remained
38 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
to the end of the year. Norton was either ashamed
of his ferocious violence, or afraid to repeat it; for
never after did Peter get an unkind word from him
or his satellites.
As the year drew near its close Norton applied
to Mas'r Nattie to hire the boys for another year,
stating that they were all anxious to remain with
him. But as soon as the year expired, Levin and
Peter, and the two other boys, all ran off to their
owner, and he, finding they were not willing to
serve Norton, did not force them to go back to
THE BROTHERS SEPARATED.
SREAT trouble came upon the
Loving brothers in the fall of
Sthe year 1817. Levi Gist,
a nephew, and a special fa-
vourite of old "Nattie," resolved,
with his uncle's sanction and aid,
to go and establish a cotton plan-
tation in Alabama; the old man promising to go
himself if his nephew should like the country and
determine to continue there. Six of the negroes
were to go and assist the young man in putting
in his first crop.
The command to prepare to go with Master
Levi fell with crushing weight upon the poor
slaves who had been selected for the purpose.
Going South was always dreaded as a great cala-
mity. To none did this arrangement bring'deeper
sorrow than to the brothers; for Levin was one of
the number chosen to go to Alabama. In all their
sorrows thus far they had been together. They
had shared the same little pleasures, and their
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
hearts had been as one. And now to be sundered !
How could they live apart? The thought that his
brother must go to the South was agony to Peter.
0 Levin, Levin, if they take you away off
there I shan't never see you no more, sure! "
0 yes," sobbed Levin, his heart almost
breaking, while he yet strove to speak cheeringly to
his weeping brother. 0 yes, Mas'r Nattie say
he's gwine bring ye all next year when he come."
Mas'r Nattie! He never gwine 'way off
there! He'll stay here as long as he get breath
enoughh to curse. He's too old to go there, any
Well, he'll have to die some day. He can't
live a mon's long time, sure."
Yes, and if he dies, we'll all be sold. They
callers has an auction when folks dies, and then
deir people's scattered all about. 0 'pears like
'taint no use livin' in this ere world. I shan't never
see you no more."
The preparations for the journey were com-
pleted. Mas'r Nattic," said Levin, as they were
all assembled in the yard to say good-bye, "please,
Sir, give'me something 'fore I go, to 'member you
"Well," said the old man, "go in and bring me
the cow-hide, and I'll give you something you'll
never forget. If I should give you a coat, or a
shirt, you would wear it right out, but if I cut
your skin to pieces, you will remember this parting
THE BROTHERS SEPARATED.
as long as you live. And mind, you rascal, when
I come out next fall I'll bring the cow-hide, and
if you don't behave yourself I'll give you enough
then d'ye hear ? Such, interspersed with
curses and blasphemies, was the kind farewell of
Old Nattie Gist. The fun of the slave-holder is
ferocious, and "the tender mercies of the wicked
The poor slaves left behind returned to their
work with heavy hearts, not knowing how soon
they might be sent to the South, or chained in a
gang, and driven away by some barbarous trader.
Peter was taken away from Mr. Martin's, where
he had been hired the first part of the year, and
sent by his master to take Levin's place as waiter
in the family of a Mr. Young. His new master
was an intelligent gentleman, of pleasant manners,
and great kindness of heart. His wife was the
reverse-of fierce, ungovernable temper. Scolding
the servants from morning to night, she kept the
house in a continual turmoil.
During the five months that Peter spent in the
service of Mr. Young, he passed many pleasant
hours at the house of Mr. Clay, with whose
domestics he had formed an intimate acquaintance.
The young masters, Theodore and Thomas Clay,
though no longer the playmates of their coloured
favourite, Peter, continued to treat him with the
utmost kindness. He spent many a pleasant
evening at Ashland.
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Amongst the slaves of Mr. Clay, and one of the
merriest of them all, was Aaron, the coachman,
who was the father of Charles, Mr. Clay's body
servant, a special favourite of his master, and
during the last years of the great statesman's life,
ever at his side.
Aaron was an excellent servant-quick, intelli-
gent, and energetic. His mirthfulness and good
feeling rendered him a favourite with all; and his
stories, songs, and many jests often made the
kitchen ring again, and proved a great attraction
But Aaron had one great infirmity. He loved
a dram, and when tempted by the sight and smell of
his favourite liquor, he could seldom resist the
yearnings of his appetite. This was peculiarly
annoying to the lady of the house, as it sometimes
unfitted him for duty when she had most need for
He one day drove her carriage into town, and
while she was paying a visit, he took the oppor-
tunity to indulge in a glass of the loved liquor,
which he enjoyed so much that he took another,
and another, and when his mistress was ready to go
home he was quite incapable of taking his place on
the driving-box, and she was obliged to hire a man
to take his place and drive the carriage home.
For this serious offence Mrs. Clay resolved that
Aaron should be punished; but it could not be
done without her husband's consent, as the over-
THIE BROTHErPS SEPARATED.
seer was forbidden to strike one of the house-
servants without his express permission.
To Mr. Clay was recited the story of Aaron's
misconduct, and the inconvenience and mortifica-
tion to which he had thereby subjected his mistress.
As he had tried various milder means to cure his
slave of this mischievous habit, he decided that
more severe measures must be resorted to.
The next morning he sent for the overseer, and
directed him to take Aaron into the carriage-house
and give him a slight whipping. "Now do it
quietly," said the master, and be sure not to cut
the skin. I don't want to hear any disturbance.
Do it as gently as possible."
The overseer respectfully assented, and went
out, glad to have an opportunity of venting a little
long-cherished spleen against that saucy coach-
man." But one of the maid-servants chanced to
overhear this conversation, and she stole out of
the house and sought Aaron.
Look yer," said she, you know what massa
Know what massa say ? No! How I know what
he say when he never speak to me dis morning' ? "
Well, he say to de overseer, 'Aaron must be
punish; for he get drink when Mrs. Clay want him
for drive the carriage. You may take him to the
carriage-house and whip him, but don't cut him
"'Don't cut himup!' Massa say so? Well,
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
well, reckon this chile be ready. Overseer mighty
good; he talk so clever; 'pears like he think I's
white sometimes, but the debil in him eye. He
done wanted this long time.to get a cut at me. I
knows what overseers means when dey gets too
good. Yah, yah He tink now he gwine gib dis
chile all he owes him."
The girl's astonished eyes followed Aaron as he
leaped over the fence, and ran towards a small
grocery that stood at a short distance. Here he
had no difficulty in procuring a dram, and having,
as he concluded, fitted himself for the anticipated
contest, he returned home and resumed his work.
Soon the overseer called from the carriage-house
Come here." In a moment the slave stood
Aaron, Mr. Clay says you must come into the
carriage-house and be whipped."
Did massa say so ? "
"Yes. He says your habit of drinking annoys
your mistress so often that you must be punished
for it. He says he has tried to persuade you to
leave it off, but it does no good. I don't like to
whip you, Aaron; but it is Mr. Clay's orders."
"Well, if massa say so, then it must be so; "
and he walked quietly into the carriage-house,
followed by his kind friend, the overseer, who care-
fully fastened the door on the inside.
THE BROTHERS SEPARATED.
Now, Mr. ," said Aaron, you may whip
me, if massa say so, but you needn't tie me. I
won't be tied."
Very well," replied the overseer, throwing
down the rope he had in his hand; you needn't
be tied if you will stand still. But you must take
off your coat."
"Yes, Sir; but if I take off my coat to be
whipped, you ought to take your'n off first to whip
The overseer perceived that he had taken a
dram, and knew he must indulge his whim if he
would obey Mr. Clay's orders to keep quiet. So he
pulled off his coat, and Aaron quickly laid his
beside it on the floor. Then followed the vest, the
slave insisting that the overseer should first re-
move his own. "Now your shirt, Aaron," said
Yes, Sir, but you must take off your'n first."
This was going further for the sake of quiet
than the overseer intended or approved; but he
hesitated only for a moment. It would be best,
he thought, to humour him. He had long wished
for a chance to humble Aaron, and now the time
He proceeded to comply with this last wish of
the culprit. But, no sooner had he lifted his arms
to pull his shirt over his head, than Aaron seized
the garment, and twisting it round his neck with
his head still muffled in it, he held him fast as in
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
a vice. Then, catching up the whip, he applied it
vigorously to the overseer's naked back, raising
the skin at every stroke. His victim screamed and
threatened vengeance; but all in vain. The blows
fell hard and fast, laid on with a will, and by an
arm of muscular power vastly superior to his own.
Mr. Clay heard the uproar, and grew very
angry. I told him," said he, to make no noise,
and to be sure not to whip the poor fellow
severely. He must be cutting him to pieces with
all that outcry."
He hastened as fast as possible to the carriage-
house. The door was fastened within; but he
could hear the whizzing of the whip as it descended
on the sufferer's back. Open the door," he cried.
"Didn't I tell you not to whip him hard ? Open
the door, I say "
O, Mr. Clay," cried the overseer from within,
in a muffled voice that was scarcely audible, it's
Aaron whipping me I haven't given him a
"Aaron," cried the master, open the door."
The command was instantly obeyed. With his
right hand, in which he still held the whip that he
had used to such good purpose, he moved the
fastenings of the door; while, with his left hand,
he retained his vice-like grasp of the twisted shirt.
His face was all complacence, and his master could
see his eyes twinkling with mirth, and a roguish
smile lurking at the corner of his mouth.
THE BROTHERS SEPARATE!). 47
Mr. Clay stood for a few moments mute with
astonishment at the strange scene. But when he
fully comprehended what had been taking place
there, he could not refrain from bursting into a
hearty laugh. The overseer, as soon as he was
released, proceeded to explain the manner in which
he had been caught, and how grievously he had
been ill-treated; and insisted that now he ought
to be allowed to whip Aaron. The master did not,
however, seem to feel the cogency of the arguments
by which the disappointed functionary urged his
claim to be permitted to visit Aaron with a sound
whipping. The master quietly expressed his
opinion that there had been whipping enough;
and returned to his room greatly amused with
Aaron's exploit, which, in after years, often served
to promote a laugh amongst his friends.
THE DEATH OF A SLAVEHOLDER.
SETER was sent by his owner
to his brother, Mr. William
Gist, to be employed on his
plantation, in April, 1818.
He- had not been there long before
Mas'r Nattie's health began to fail.
Sor a long time he struggled against
disease, and refused to acknowledge that he was
ill: but at lasthe was obliged to yield. His con-
stitution was worn out by intemperance and the
indulgence of evil passions, and no medical skill
could arrest the approach of the angel of death.
When Peter visited the town, which he had to
do every week, he noticed the sunken eye and
hollow cheek of his owner, and his heart sank
within him. He had but little affection for his
master, for who could love old Nattie Gist ? But
if he should die there would be a sale. The traders
would be at the auction; and then adieu to the
last hope he cherished of one day joining his beloved
THE DEATH OF A SLAYEHOLDER.
The wretched old man continued to fail, and
his last days were spent in loneliness and gloom.
His housekeeper and cook, Aunt Mary, was his
nurse. Poor woman! She had learnt patiently
to endure all his caprices. Her will, her very
womanhood, had been crushed into submission to
his authority; for, although a slave, he called her
his wife. And now in the death hour the down-
trodden woman moistens the parched lips, all
heedless of the bitter curses and blasphemies they
On the Saturday morning that witnessed the
closing scene of the bad man's life, Peter had come
to the market, and went to see Mas'r Nattie. His
brother and the doctor stood silently by, witnessing
his agony as he strove with the King of Terrors.
There was no light of Christian hope in the fast-
glazing eye; no love in that obdurate heart. He
would resist, he would live Why should he die ?
But "the wicked is driven awayinhis wickedness."
Fearful was the frown upon his face as the wicked
oppressor was forced to yield to the great con-
queror. He struggled, groaned, gasped, cursed,-
and the wretched spirit was alone with God.
Horror sat upon every countenance as the nurse
silently closed his eyes.
The old man had sold most of his slaves, and
only eleven, including the six that had gone to
Alabama remained. All these, with some other
property, he bequeathed to his favourite nephew,
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Levi Gist. So that Peter and Levin, without
the dreaded auction, found themselves both still
belonging to the same owner.
Peter started for his new home in Alabama on
a cold Sabbath morning in December, with John
Gist, a younger brother of his new Mas'r Levi."
He carried with him a grateful remembrance of
Miss Maltha, who, with a kindly smile and good
bye, handed him a handful of biscuits as he was
setting off on his journey. This kind act he never
Peter's only regret in leaving Lelington was
associated with the idea that possibly after all
these years his parents might come in search of
their children and find that both of them were
gone. But that idea he scarcely dared to indulge,
it had become now so very unlikely. He had a
heavy sinking of the heart, at the thought that he
must henceforth be exposed to all the hardships of
the South, of which he had heard such dreadful
accounts. But he endeavoured to banish all such
unpleasant reflections, and comforted himself on
the journey with the thought that he was going
to be restored to the companionship of the brother
he loved so dearly. Levin was at the end of the
Peter's heart beat fast as he approached Bain-
bridge, which was to be his future home. But
it was not until the sixth of January, that they
reached their destination, having paid several visits
THE DEATH OF A SLAVEHOLDER.
at different houses on the way. Everything he
saw appeared strange and uncouth. The "Town,"
consisted of about thirty log cabins scattered here
and there among the tall old forest trees. Groups
of white-haired, sallow-skinned children were play-
ing about the doors, and between the trees were
seen the bright waters of the Tennessee sparkling
in the sun-light.
"Well, Peter," said Master John, "this is
Bainbridge. How do you like the looks of the
place ? "
"Looks like 'taint a town, Mas'r John. I
never knowed folks have a town in the woods."
0 The woods will be gone in a few years.
Don't you see, many of these trees are dead now?
They girdle them that way, and next year they
Peter could hardly believe that those two log
cabins with an open passage between them, con-
stituted Mas'r Levi's residence in Alabama. Ole
Mas'r Nattie say that they all gwine get rich out
here. What he say now, if he see his young
gentlemen a-livin' in a cabin in the woods amongg
poor white folks." He followed his travelling
companion into the house, and was joyfully re-
ceived there by Aunt Peggy the cook. 0 I's so
glad," exclaimed she, "to see somebody from de
From Peggy he ascertained that Levin was well.
Presently the sound of wheels was heard. "Dar's
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
my ole man with his waggon," said Peggy; "he's
gwine to de mill whar de boys is all to work."
A moment more and Peter was seen bounding
into the waggon by the side of old Frank, an old
fellow-slave. He was hastening to the embrace
of his brother Levin, and could hardly in his im-
patience collect his ideas sufficiently to answer all
the old man's questions about his former home
and the dear friends he had left behind. Joyful
was the meeting between the two brothers : and
glad was Peter to find there Alfred and Allison,
who had for years been the companions of himself
and Levin, and to whom both were attached with
almost a brother's love.
After two weeks spent about the house, Peter
was sent to the cotton field. Here a new world
opened before the young slave. Widely different
was the beautiful forest scenery that presented
itself to his gaze from the brick-yards, and the
fields of corn, tobacco, and hemp, amongst which
his boyhood had been spent. The crop was
now about half picked. The employment was all
new to Peter; and though it did not seem to be
difficult, and he worked diligently all the day, at
night he had picked only twelve pounds and a
half. The other boys played many jokes upon
him, and were greatly amused at his awkward-
ness. But Peter was not the boy to be outdone
by any of them.
At night when Master Andrew weighed the
THE DEATH OF A SLAVEHOLDEE.
cotton that each had picked, he told them that he
would give a new pair of shoes to the one who
should pick fifty pounds the next day. Allison
was nearly barefoot, and he worked hard for the
prize. But Peter had learned wisdom by one day's
experience in the cotton field. To the surprise
of everybody, he had at night seventy pounds.
After this he was seldom out-done in the cotton
field. His fingers were long and nimble, and he
could pluck the fleecy treasure from the frost-
browned ball almost without an effort. He was
one of the most valuable and efficient servants
amongst all that his master called his "property."
Bainbridge, where Peter now was, had been
mainly settled by poor whites who gained a scanty
subsistence by hunting and fishing. It was sur-
rounded by the estates of wealthy planters,
some belonging to the aristocratic families of
Carolina or Virginia; but others were owned by
ignorant and vulgar men who had gained wealth
as overseers and negro-drivers, or as negro-traders,
and through these refined pursuits had become
entitled to take rank amongst the aristocrats of
Alabama. The store of Messrs. Gist was the
favourite resort of these planters; for there the
post-office was kept, and there all sorts of liquor
were sold. -
For two years Peter pursued his avocations
on the farm with his brother, experiencing none
but kindly treatment. The farm made excellent
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
crops in proportion to the number of hands em-
ployed; and the business of the store was very
lucrative. During the winter Peter and Levin
and their fellow-slaves, had many opportunities
of earning pocket-money. Flat-boats laden with
cotton, while coming down the river, were some-
times stove on the rocks, in the mussel shoals, near
which the small town was situated. The cotton
getting wet was rendered unfit for market, unless
the bales were opened and dried. This furnished
employment for the negroes on Sundays. The wet
cotton was spread on rocks or boards in the sun-
shine, and frequently turned and shaken until it
was dry and fit to be packed for the market. For
this labour they sometimes received a dollar, (four
shillings and twopence English money) per day,
thus supplying themselves with the means of
obtaining many little comforts which could not
be obtained otherwise.
In the year 1821, Peter's master, Levi Gist,
bought a plantation of four-hundred-and-eighty
acres, about seven miles from the town. He
also built a new large brick house in Bainbridge.
In the fall of the year, all the slaves except Peter
were removed to the new plantation. Peter was
retained to attend upon his master and the young
and beautiful bride whom he brought to the new
house in December. From this lady Peter received
generous and uniform kindness, which he never
ceased to remember with heartfelt gratitude. She
THE DEATH OF A SLATEHOLDER.
had come on a visit to her sister, Mrs. McKiernan,
who, with her husband, had recently settled on a
plantation near to that purchased by Mr. Gist.
Peter had now to perform the duties of cook,
housemaid, and waiter; he being the only servant
in the house except a little boy. These were some
of the brightest days of his life hitherto. His time
was fully occupied, but he succeeded in giving satis-
faction to his young mistress, and her approving
smile and gentle kindness shed brightness upon his
lowly path. But for the one cloud that shadowed
his spirit, he would have been content and happy.
He could not forget his mother and his home. His
heart yearned for these, and while he still cherished
hope, he was often tempted to fear that he was
destined never to see them again.
Now arrived a memorable era in Peter's life.
Hitherto he had been gay and thoughtless, full of
levity, and regardless altogether of the claims of
religion. Nor, since he left his mother's roof, had
he met with any who cared for his soul, or paid
any attention to religions matters. He was now
twenty-one years of age; and he began to exercise
his thoughts upon those things that relate to the
soul and eternity. There were many religious
slaves in the wide circle of his acquaintances; and
it was probably through conversation with these
that Peter first began to feel concerned about his
soul. But whatever were the means, it is certain
that the young slave experienced a gracious change,
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
and became a new creature in Christ Jesus. He
saw now, in a new light, the moral degradation
that prevailed all around him amongst those of his
own colour; and he looked with abhorrence upon
the unblushing licentiousness in which the white
men indulged, and shuddered as the blasphemous
oath, the obscene jest, and the fulminations of vin-
dictive passion fell from the lips of those who were
the gentlemen of the neighbourhood. He had been
accustomed to these things ever since he had
entered the slave-land, and he had regarded them
with indifference. But now he saw and heard
them with loathing, and he resolved, by Divine
help, to shun the insidious advances of every vice.
He had partially contracted evil habits; but now
he abandoned the use of tobacco, which he had
commenced when but a boy. He had sometimes
taken a dram with his companions; now he deter-
mined (it was before the era of total abstinence
associations) that he would henceforth touch no
intoxicating drink. His character for integrity,
truth, and honesty became firnily established ; and
though he was but a slave, he won the confidence
of all with whom he was connected.
With this great change came a more earnest
yearning after freedom. He was born free, and
the knowledge of that embittered to him the
curse of slavery; and with every power of his soul
aroused against the stupendous wrong, he resolved
that, God helping him, by some means he would be
THE DEATH OF A SLAVEHOLDEE.
free. By flight, if opportunity served; or by pur-
chase, if it were possible, he would win back his
birthright. And there seemed to be something
whispering within him that his object would be
achieved, and he would breathe the air of the
He faithfully pursued his round of humble
duties, trusting in the living God, and patiently
waiting till he should see some opening in the
dense, dark cloud that enveloped him and his
In October, 1822, Peter's owner relinquished
his share in the store to a brother, and removed to
the plantation. His slaves were all well-treated.
The discipline of the mistress was that of kindness;
and for good order, comfort, and happiness the
plantation and household of Levi Gist was pro-
nounced by one who knew it well an oasis in the
desert-a solitary star in a midnight sky.
Two years have passed since the family came
to live at the plantation. Mas'r Levi is prosperous
as well as happy. His crops all look well, and his
negroes are healthy and obedient.
0, mas'r! says a voice at his side. He turns,
and sees Levin. He has grown tall and manly, a
fine, stout fellow, whose gentle ways make him a
favourite with all on the plantation.
Well, Levin, what do you want ? responds
the master. "What is the matter?"
0, nothing's the matter, Sir; only I wanted
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
to ax you if you's willing' I should get married,
Get married ? Why, yes. You're old enough,
I suppose. Over twenty, aren't you ?"
Yes, Sir. I is twenty-five."
Well, where's the girl you want to marry ?
You can have a wife as soon as you like, if you will
get one of the right sort."
"I wants Fanny Hogun, Sir; and ole Mas'r
Jimmy, he say I may have her if you's willing ,
Fanny Hogun! Old Jimmy Hogun's Fanny!
The very worst place in the neighbourhood for a
fellow to be running! Fanny! What put into
your stupid head to go there to hunt for a wife ?
No, you can't have Fanny. You may have a wife
and welcome; but no boy of mineshall be spending
his nights and Sundays at old Jemmy Hogun's;
d'ye hear? "
"But, massa, Fanny's a good girl, and 'pears
like 'twont do no hurt to go and see her, Sir. I
don't want nary another wife, Sir."
"But I tell you, Levin, I can't let one of my
boys have a wife at such a place as that. So don't
talk any more about it. You can hunt up another
girl that will suit you better."
Levin walked away sadly disappointed. He
knew his master had good cause for disliking to
have his people associate with Old Hogun's
negroes. His place was the resort of wild and
THE DEATH OF A SLAYEHOLDER.
reckless characters ; for there the rein was given to
every evil passion without the least restraint.
All this was well known to Levin. But Fanny,
he was sure, was good and true, and very different
from her companions. Besides, he and Fanny
loved each other dearly, and he could not give her
up. He disliked exceedingly to offend his master,
who had always been so kind to him; yet he could
not decide to sacrifice his true affection. For some
time he hesitated; but love conquered at last,
and without the approbation of his master he
took the lively Fanny for his wife. His master and
mistress were displeased. They did all they could
to prevent what they considered an ill-advised
procedure, and Levin's disobedience gave them
Levin hoped that, once married, all his troubles
would be past. But he was disappointed. He
could seldom go to see his wife, for the overseer,
aware that his master disapproved of the connec-
tion, placed all possible impediments in his way.
He went so far one day, after one of Levin's stolen
visits, as to strip and tie him up to whip him.
This the master prohibited. But when Fanny
dared to come to see her husband, she was under
no such friendly protection. In spite of Levin's
prayers and protestations, he mangled her tender
flesh with the whip.
Soon after his marriage Levin's health began
to fail, and his kind mistress took him into the
GO THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
house to do lighter work. Renewed efforts were
made to induce him to give up Fanny and refrain
from visiting her. But in vain. His love for
Fanny was warm and true. Mr. Gist's patience
at length gave way. He would not thus be baffled
by a slave. He would force him to obey his wishes.
He accordingly bound the astonished slave, and
three hundred and seventeen lashes fell on his
naked back. But when the master's passion sub.
sided, he was filled with remorse. He bitterly
regretted the great wrong he had done to his poor
slave, and confessed it to him. After that the
true-hearted pair were suffered peaceably to visit
S BOUT two years after Levin's
marriage, Peter also took to
S himself a wife. The object of
his choice was named Lavinia,
commonly called Vina. She was
the daughter of a slave woman
named Sally, the "property" of a
Mr. Foxall. Mr. Foxall was kind to his slaves;
and he was overcome with grief and humiliation
when these trusting servants-more his friends
than slaves-must be sold and scattered to pay the
creditors of a gambling partner, he having fled
with all that he could scrape together of the
O what sorrow rushed over the spirits of
those doomed slaves when they learned their
destiny! As many as could be disposed of by
private sale were thus parted with to save them
from falling into the hands of the traders. Vina
v as the first of all the number to be sold. She
was, at the time, hired out to service at the hotel
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
in Courtland. It was Sunday morning, and Aunt
Sally, her mother, was coming in that day to see
her children. She had just finished some domestic
duties, when Dr. P- of Courtland, entered.
Your name is Vina," said he, and you be-
long to Mr. Foxall? "
"Well, I have bought you, and you must be
ready to go with me in an hour."
He left the room, and Vina gazed after him be-
wildered. It was so sudden-only one hour, and
her mother had not yet come.
She looked into the street. There was no one
that cared for her. But a thought struck her:-
she would go and see her master.
Mr. Foxall lived near. Thither the excited girl
hastened; but it was only to be disappointed.
Well-nigh broken-hearted at the necessity of
parting with his servants, he had shut himself up,
and could not bear to meet any of them after
selling them to strangers.
The poor girl returned to the hotel. There she
learnt that Dr. P- had not bought her for him-
self, but, being indebted to a Mr. McKiernan and
a Mr. Strut, of Nashville, he had, at their request,
bought her and a young girl named Rosetta for
them. With an aching heart, she stood watching
for her mother.
"Ready, girl? shouted a coarse voice.
"Come, can't wait. Bring along your traps, if
you've got any; but you can't take a big bundle,
for there are two of you to ride."
Vina gazed for a moment at the speaker, a
coarse, ill-looking man on horseback. Seeing that
Rosetta, her companion in misery, was holding
another horse by the bridle, she picked up her
little bundle and went out. One long look she
cast up the street, with a faint hope that she might
see her mother approaching in the distance.
The hope was in vain. She saw several happy
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
mothers, with their children, walking to the
House of God; and maidens of her own age came
tripping by, but no heart sympathised with the
great sorrow that filled her own bosom. Mechani-
cally she mounted the horse, Rosetta sprang up
behind her, and they went on their dreary way.
Late in the evening the two maidens reached
their destination, and were conducted to the kit-
chen, where many wondering and scrutinizing eyes
rested upon them. Vina especially was very
sorrowful; yet no tear moistened her eyelid; no
sob gave vent to the anguish of her troubled heart.
Presently, a young girl entered with a message.
Missus say come in de house; want to see
what ye all looks like."
"Den go 'long, honey," said the kind old cook,
as she drew Vina from the shaded corner, and
placed her beside Rosetta. Hol' up your heads
now, chillern, and look peart when ye goes in to see
missus. Go 'long."
"De Lor' help 'em, poor little critturs," sighed
the good old woman, as she watched them from
the kitchen-door. "Dey's got a she-wolf to deal
wid now. 'Pears like dey ain't used to hard times,
no how; but nobody can't say dat dar 'bout 'em
carter dey's done staid on dis yer place one year."
Vina and her companions had not fallen into
very good hands. Both Mr. and Mrs. McKiernan
had been thoroughly corrupted and embruted by
contact with the influences of slavery. He would
SPETEI S MARRIAGE.
have been a fit companion for Mrs. Stowe's
Legree. She was worthy of the place she
Timidly the two girls advanced into the pre-
sence of their future mistress. She scrutinized
them for a moment with her keen, cold eyes, ir
which shone not the slightest gleam of womanly
softness, and then addressed herself to Vina:
"What can you do, girl ? "
I's bin used to mission ma'am, and waiting' in
Did you ever work in the field ? "
Ah! "-sneeringly-"you've been raised quite
a lady! Can you round corn ? or can you chop
through cotton? "
You're such a lady, I suppose you never saw
any cotton grow ? "
Yes, ma'am, I's seen plenty cotton growing ,
but never worked it."
Mr. McKiernan then approached, and, unfasten-
ing her frock behind, examined her back. Have
you ever been whipped ? asked he.
So I thought. Your back is as smooth as
Martha,the young girl that had summoned them
to the mistress's presence, accompanied them back
to the kitchen. Your frock is unfastened," said
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Rosetta, as they went out, "stop a minute till I
0, no," whispered Martha, "I can't have it
fastened, my back's so sore."
"What's the matter with your back ? "
"Why, whar missus cuts me up. She's allers
a-beatin' me. O, I wish I's dead."
The two girls exchanged mournful looks; but
no more was spoken. As the new-comers were un-
accustomed to field-labour, it was determined to
keep them for the present in the house, and send
Martha to the field, who was glad to get away from
the jealousy and cruelty of her mistress. To Vina
was assigned the post of housemaid and waiter.
Rosetta was installed as nurse to an infant, and
both gave satisfaction for several months. But
Vina pined and wasted through anxiety concerning
her mother and brothers. She had never been able
to learn what had become of them, or to whom they
had been sold. Her shrunken figure and the look
of melancholy that never left her face shewed how
wretched she was.
One morning her mistress chanced to discover
a ladle in the kitchen, which Vina had accidentally
left there. It was the first instance of carelessness
or neglect that had occurred in Vina's department
since she had been in the house. With quick
anger, the mistress seized the cow-hide, and with
her own fair hands, whipped the trembling slave.
She did it much more gently than was her wont;
yet the blood oozed through the bruised skin that
was swelled in ridges across poor Vina's back. She,
poor ignorant girl, imagined that she had been
severely punished. Ah! the day was coming
when she would regard such a whipping as only
From that time she resolved, if possible, to get
away from the immediate jurisdiction of her mis-
tress; and as soon as she could find him alone, she
asked her master if she might go to the field.
He asked, "What put that into your head ?
You don't know anything about field-work, do
"No, Sir, but I reckon I could learn. I mought
as well take my chance in the field. But, please,
Sir, don't let missus know I axed you."
Look here," said he, to his amiable spouse,
soon after this conversation, Martha don't do
much in the field; she is sickly, you know, and
she can't keep up with the others. I reckon we'd
better bring her back into the house, and take
Vina in her place. She seems to be well, and
willing to work."
"Well," replied the lady, in her characteristic
asperity of tone, "I'd rather have Vina in the
house; but if you can't manage Martha, send her
in. I can make her work. She won't conquer me
with her sickly complaining."
Vina went to the field, and soon was perfect
in the lessons to be learnt there. Soon after Mr.
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Strut, for whom one of the two girls had been
.bought, came to claim his "property." The
McKiernans manEouvred to keep Vina.
When the busiest season was over, Vina ob-
tained a "pass" to go to Courtland, to obtain
some clothes she had been compelled to leave be-
hind when she was hurried away. She also obtained
the loan of a horse, and set off with a beating
heart; for she hoped now to see her mother and
brothers, or at least to learn how they had been
How eagerly she looked about her as she rode
through the familiar street! At length her eyes
rested on an old acquaintance, and she inquired in
trembling accents for her mother.
La honey," replied the old woman she had
accosted, whar you bin all dis time, and never
knowed your mammy sol'? Mr. Peoples done
bought her. He got ole Moses and Jeny too.
Yer mammy's mighty lucky; got sol' 'long o' her
ole man" (Vina's stepfather) "and one o' her
boys. Mr. Peoples mighty good master, too;
leastways, so all de folk say whar lives out dar.
But yer mammy to Mr. Mosely's now. Mr. Peoples
done hire 'em all out for de balance dis year."'
Her horse's head was immediately turned to-
wards Mr. Mosely's. She could not rest till she
reached the goal of her hopes-her mother's side.
Aunt Sally was at work in the field, little
dreaming of the pleasure in store for her. Vina
left her horse at the house, having paid her respects
to the mistress, who was very different from Mrs.
McKiernan. She came near the working gang,
when Aunt Sally raised her head. My chile my
chile!" she cried, as with uplifted hands and
streaming eyes she ran and pressed her daughter
to her heart. Mrs. Mosely had kindly bidden Vina
to tell her mother she might have a holiday while
she remained. And when the first gush of emotion
subsided they walked towards the house.
O, Vina," said her mother, how I did mourn
when I come to town dat Sunday, and you was
gone. I reckon I skeered 'em all a screaming and
takin' on. I didn't know what to do; so I went
right to mas'r. He felt mighty bad too; but he
say he can't help it. He's 'bliged, he say, to sell
everything, and de Lord know he wouldn't part
with his servants if dar was any way to keep 'em.
He cried a heap while I was dar. He couldn't tell
me nothing' 'bout de place whar you done gone. 0,
Lord! how my heart done ache! And it 'pears it
never done stop achin' till I see your blessed face.
Is you got good massa and missus, chile ? "
Not over and above But dey ain't troubled
me much yit. They's mighty tight on the rest.
0,how some o' de people thar does git cut up!
'Pears like dey will kill 'em sometimes."
Poor chile poor chile May de good Lord
keep de wolves off o' your flesh! Dar ain't no way
to live with dem kind, only to pray to de Lord to
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
keep de lions' mouth shet up. We's poor critters
in dis yar world, but dar's a crown for us up yon',
if we minds de Word of de Lord, and keeps patient
to the end."
Old Sally was a pious woman, and of a kind
and loving disposition. Her whole trust was in
her Redeemer, and as well as her enslaved condi-
tion permitted her to exercise influence over them,
she taught her children the fear of the Lord.
Swiftly passed the hours till Sunday; and very
pleasant they were. Then, as her "pass specified,
Vina must return. Jeny, her brother, saddled her
horse and brought him to the door. She tore
herself from her mother's arms, and was gone. A
great load had been taken from her heart, now
that she knew her loved ones were in good hands.
The old light came again into her eye, the accus-
tomed elasticity to her step; and the old cook re-
marked that "little Vina gone mighty peart like
since she tuck dat are jaunt to de ole place."
McKiernan's plantation was only a mile from
Mr. Gist's, and there being a near relationship
between the families, a greater intimacy existed
between the servants than was usual between the
slaves of even near neighbours.
Peter was at this time a fine cheerful fellow in
the full, fresh vigour of manhood. The McKiernans
both liked him, and amongst the servants his
bright, good-humoured face was always welcomed.
Even little Vina, who was developing into a
handsome girl, felt the genial influence of Peter's
presence, and her shyness and reserve gradually
melted away in the warmth of his smiles. From
the first Peter regarded the desolate, sorrowful
looking girl with pity,for he knew well the character
and temper of the mistress into whose power she
had fallen; and he never failed to speak kindly
Week after week, and month after month
the sympathy deepened between the kind-hearted
youth and the timid, shrinking maiden, until it
ripened into love, and by the time Vina had been
a year at her new home, they had confessed their
mutual attachment, and only waited an opportunity
to be married. Vina was at this time only fifteen
Mr. and Mrs. Kiernan marked this growing
attachment with much satisfaction. Vina's owner
had long looked with a covetous eye upon Peter,
and he encouraged his attachment to Vina, in the
hope that when he had a wife away from home the
inconvenience of it would induce Mr. Gist to part
with him. To his own master and mistress he was
afraid to communicate his wishes. His mistress
always wanted him at home. She depended much
upon him; and he knew that she would object to
having his, attention diverted from her business by
family cares of his own. Yet Peter felt that he
was himself a man. Am I not twenty-five years
old ? Surely, when I have waited so many years
72 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
upon my master's family, they may be content to
spare me now and then of a Sunday."
Still he knew they would oppose him; and he
resolved to keep his own counsel, in the hope that
" something would turn up." He was not dis-
Mr. and Mrs. Gist had for several years been
proposing to pay a visit to their friends at Lexing-
ton; and Peter had been made happy by the pro-
mise that he should drive the carriage. Now they
resolved to fulfil their purpose. To the astonish-
ment of all, Peter declared he did not wish
Not go cried the master. "I thought there
was nothing you would like so well? "
Well, so I would," replied Peter, "but it's so
long now, that I'm afeared everybody there done
forgot me. There wouldn't be nobody glad to see
me, no how."
Well, well, then old man Frank can go; he'll
not want to be asked twice."
The familytook their departure, all the servants
assembling to see them off, and express warm
wishes for a pleasant journey. They then separated
to their respective labours. Peter alone remained
with dimmed eyes gazing down the road where the
carriage had disappeared. Ah! it was a great
pleasure he had sacrificed What a fool I am,"
he said to himself, "here I stand, and they are gone;
and I might have gone too, to see my friends.'
But I'll be married to Vina 'fore dey come back;
den it will be too late to make fuss 'bout it."
Vina had made her home with a woman called
Aunt Lucy since she had gone to work in the field.
Thither, when his work was done, Peter hastened
with light and cheerful step. It was not difficult
to win Vina's consent to an immediate marriage;
for she had given all her young heart's love to
Peter. Her master readily assented to the wishes
of the young couple, and on a pleasant evening
in June they. were married. Old Peter Hodge, a
Baptist preacher, a slave belonging to one of the
neighbours, performed the ceremony; and a merry
company, consisting of all Vina's fellow-servants,
and a few of Peter's intimate friends, enjoyed a
substantial supper in the master's kitchen.
The bride was very pretty, notwithstanding her
grotesque attire, which consisted of an old white
dress and a few quaint, old-fashioned ornaments,
the discarded finery of her mistress. The few
clothes she had brought from Courtland had been
worn out or stolen by her fellow-slaves. A white
linsey frock, which her mistress had given her, the
only article of clothing she had received since she
had been on the plantation, was minus the front
breadth. As she had no immediate prospect of
getting another frock from her owners, Peter gave
her a black surtout coat of his own, with which
she patched it. It was now half black and half
white, but it was decent and comfortable.
74 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
Peter, however, had good clothes; and when
he found that McKiernan would supply Vina with
no comforts, he sold his own things to provide
decent clothing for his wife.
Soon after her marriage, Vina obtained per-
mission to pay another visit to her mother. Many
long and earnest conversations were held between
them; and many times the Good Lord was thanked
for all His kindness towards them. Aunt Sally
had a good master, and both her boys were close
The young wife received many items of advice
and instruction from her mother, in which religion
was not lost sight of. The few days of her leave
expired all too soon, and the beloved daughter was
forced to say, Good-bye. This time there was less
of anguish in the parting-all she loved was not
CHANGES AND DEATH.
N their return from Lexing-
ton the master and mistress
_i received a warm welcome.
"How d'y, missus?" "0
you's purtier dan ever." "How
glad I is you's come home once
more." These are the loving greet-
ings. Nor are the master and the baby forgotten.
When the supper is brought in, and Peter takes
his place as waiter, the master says :
"Well, Peter, so you've stolen a march upon
us since we've gone ? Been getting' married, eh? "
Yes, Sir, I's been getting' married."
Ha, ha! You thought the folks at Lexington
had all forgotten you. Well, since you've been so
smart, I must try and buy a wife for you. You'll
not be worth much if you have to be running off
every week to see your family. Besides, Mr.
McKiernan intends to move to Bainbridge about
Christmas, and then you'll have a long road to
But Vina's master had no intention of selling
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
her. She was one of the best servants he had.
He would, however, be glad to buy her husband.
That was out of the question. Neither Mr.
Gist, nor his wife, would consent to sell Peter.
And if they had been willing, Peter himself would
have remonstrated. He knew McKiernan too well
to wish for such a change.
McKiernan removed to Bainbridge. He had
bought a new plantation, much of it new land, and
to clear and plant it with corn and cotton required
the utmost diligence. There was no time to build
cabins, though there were not half enough to re-
ceive the people. All, therefore, that wished a
house to themselves, were obliged to spend their
Sunday in building it.
Peter immediately commenced preparations for
building a cabin for his wife. Every Saturday he
walked to Bainbridge, a distance of seven miles;
and early on Sunday morning he was at his work.
All the holy day he toiled, and often when the
moon shone far on into the night. Then by the
first peep of dawn on Monday he was away to
commence his labours for his master.
The house was at length finished, more sumptu-
ously than most cabins, inasmuch as it had a floor
formed of slabs. Peter had earned all he could,
working nights and holidays to get a little money
to buy necessary articles of furniture, but it was so
little he had to sell more of his clothes. Two or
three cooking utensils, two chairs and a trunk was
CHANGES AND DEATH.
.all that he could get at first. To these he soon
added a walnut-wood bedstead, and a straw-stuffed
bed. McKiernan allowed his slaves a peck of
meal and three-and-a-half pounds of bacon per
week. Whatever vegetables they might require
they must raise by their Sunday labour, and in
this way they must procure clothes and comforts
as they could.
Mr. Gist had bought a shoemaker amongst his
slaves, and Peter having formed a friendship with
him, he cheerfully instructed him in his art. This
was of great use to Peter, as he was able to make
shoes for himself and his wife, and thus save many
dollars. He also earned small sums by making
shoes at night for his fellow slaves. Thus Peter
was able to buy a cupboard for Vina, and a chest,
in which she could secure her own weekly allow-
ance from the half-clad, ever-hungry negroes. He
had bought a barrel to assist his wife's house-
keeping. But before he could get it to her Mr.
Gist's overseer took the liberty of appropriating
it to his own use.
"That's my bar'l, Sir," said Peter, "and I
want to use it myself."
Curse you! hush your mouth, you nigger.
I'll let you know you're not to forbid me to use a
barrel when I want it."
But it's mine," persisted Peter. "I bought
it, and I's gwine to carry it to my wife."
The overseer was greatly infuriated. He could
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
take no vengeance except by showering curses upon
Peter for claiming what was his own. So he went
and complained to Mr. Gist that one of the niggers
had been impudent to him, and swore to have
revenge. And if," added he, "I don't whip him
now, I'll give him something that will hurt him a
The master hesitated, but finally, concluding
from the fellow's temper, that such a course would
be safest for the slave, he gave him permission to
whip him very slightly. Accordingly Peter was
taken to the stable, where twenty-five lashes were
inflicted on his naked back.
In September, 1826, the wailing of a tiny voice
was heard in Vina's cabin. A new fount of love
was opened in that young mother's heart, and her
frame thrilled with joy as she proudly placed in
her husband's arms her first-born boy. She knew
her babe was born to slavery and sorrow, but hope
whispered that perhaps his lot, after all, might be
a happier one than that of his parents Peter had
managed to provide materials for a comfortable
wardrobe for the little stranger, andVina took great
pleasure in making up the tiny garments. They
were coarse and without embroidery, but when
they were finished and laid in the trunk, she could
not help now and then lifting the lid to see how
nice they looked.
After going out to the field, the young mother
had but little time to look after her boy. He was left
CHANGES AND DEATH.
all alone on the bed. Four times a day, for a few
moments only, she was permitted to go and minister
to his wants. Then, however he might cry, or even if
he were complaining of some of the little maladies
incident to children, she had to leave him. The
cotton must be picked. How often, when working
near at hand, she could hear his plaintive cry; but
she dared not leave her work to go to him. After
going from the field she washed her boy, and put
clean clothes upon him, and then washed his
clothes, her own, and herhusband's. All this, with
mending, often found her occupation until near the
dawn. "But I wouldn't see my child go dirty
and raggety," said she, "if I neber get a wink o'
When little Peter was about a year old, Vina
had a severe illness from inflammation of the brain,
caused by the brutal treatment of the overseer.
"He tied my hands with his hand'chief, and
pulled my coat off o' the waist; and then he beat
me till I couldn't hardly stand. He struck me o'er
the head mos'ly, and tried to knock me down with
the butt end o' his bull whip. My head was cut
in a heap o' places, where the scars is on it yit.
"I reck'n he wouldn't a give me so much, but
I tried to fight him at first, and he had to call two
o' the men to help him tie me. He got so mad
that he jist went 'cordin' to his own mercy.
When he done beating he curse powerful, and
2HE STOLEN CHILDREN.
say if I ever tole dis yer to massa, or to any person
close, so it would get to him, he'd gib me a heap
more; and if that didn't do, he'd shoot me. I was
feard he mought kill me sly; so I never said nothing'
'bout it to anybody but Peter. He came home a
Sunday, and when he's sitting' by me, he sort o' put
his arm round me. 0 says I, don't put yer arm
thar, you hurt my back."
"' What's the matter o' your back ? says he.
"' 0, it's mighty sore whar ole Bill Simms
done beat me,' says I; 'but don't you tell nobody,
for if he finds out I don' tol' the tale, he'll kill me,
"Peter felt mightybad when I tell him. 'Peared
like he could a' gone out and kill ole Bill Simms
on the spot.
The next Sunday, Simms come up afore my
house and speak to Peter, whar was a standing' at
the door. Peter answered him mighty low, and
that made him mad, case he livedd I done tol' him
how I bin' 'bused. 'Seems to me,' says he, 'you're
getting' mighty grand. You're too great a gentle-
man to speak to a white person with respect.
Never mind, I'll do-you a kindness some o' these
days; I owe you something' this long time.'
"' Well,' says Peter,' that debt will be paid at
the judgment day.'
"When I hard dis, I tremble every minit; for
I livedd I should have to take more next day.
I had a heap o' misery in my head all the time
CHANGES AND DEATH.
for two weeks arter I tuck that beatin', and then
I got right sick, and they said I's out o' my senses
for a week. They sent for the doctor; but I didn't
know nothing' 'bout it; and he said I'd tuck some
mighty hard blows on the head. Missus sent for
Peter to come, for they all livedd I was gwine to
die. Then Peter tol' 'em all 'bout what's done
make me sick.
Mas'r was mighty mad. Why didn't she
tell me this afore ? said he.
"' Bekase,' says Peter, she know'd your rule
that, however bad the oversee beats your servants,
if they come for complain to you, you will give them
"I reck'n I shouldn't never done get well, if
they all hadn't tuck such good care o' me. When
I got so I could talk, mas'r ax me why I never
tell him what a beating' ole Simms gib me ?
"' What I come to you for ?' says I; 'you allers
tole us never to do that, without we wanted more.
If I'd livedd wouldd done any good, I'd a come to
you, Sir, mon's quick.'
Soon's I's able to get out o' bed, mas'r come
to see me, and bring ole Simms with him. Then
he axed me 'bout that beating an' I up and tell
him 'fore his face. He couldn't deny it. Mas'r
cursed him mightily, and tell him he should pay
my doctor's bill, and for every day I was sick. I
nebber know'd 'bout de payin', but mas'r drove
him off the place, and he never come on it 'gain."
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
In the spring of 1830, Peter's master and
mistress once more planned a visit to Lexington.
As the carriage drove away from the door, Aunt
Ceely, the cook, sobbed out, 'Pears like some-
thin's gwine happen. I's had mighty bad dreams
dese las' nights."
0! you's allers a dreaming' reckon your
dreams ain't much 'count," replied a cheerful girl
at her side. "I reckon nothing' ain't gwine hurt
dem, no how. Dey's bin to Kaintucky 'fore dis."
But that young master was never again to be
seen in his own home. After some months' sojourn
in Lexington, they were about to return, and a
large, gay party was assembled at a farewell dinner
on the day before their departure. The fond wife
saw her husband's face turn ashy pale. He was
borne from the table to the sofa; but before any
medical aid could be summoned the spirit had
passed to its destiny, and the loving wife was a
The desolate woman returned with her children
to her now darkened home. It was a heavy blow
to the slaves. The master had his faults, and
sometimes they suffered from violent fits of passion
on his own part, but he protected them from the
violence of overseers and other ruffians, and sup-
lied them comfortably with wholesome food and
clothes. The master died without a will, and till
the law determined the distribution of his property,
the widow remained on the plantation, and pre.
CHANGES AND DEATH.
served, as far as possible, the accustomed order of
A yet more painful bereavement to Peter was
soon to follow the loss of his young master. Just
a year after, Levin's health which had been far
from robust, began rapidly to decline, and it soon
became evident that his work was done. Levin
was a true Christian. He had put his trust in the
bleeding Lamb, and for some years, according to
the knowledge he possessed, had earnestly sought
to follow his Redeemer. Now, as death approached,
he experienced the fulfilment of the Master's words
" My peace I give unto you. Not as the world
giveth, give I unto you."
It was a great comfort to Levin that Fanny was
permitted to be with him during the last few days.
It was on the twenty-eighth of December that the
change came. Call Peter, Fanny," said he, sud-
denly awaking out of a gentle sleep.
Peter's gone to Bainbridge, dear Levin."
A shade of disappointment passed over his face.
For a few moments he remained silent in prayer.
Then suddenly he cried out aloud, Peter! Peter!
O, dear Peter." There was a slight struggle-a
faint gasp, and the happy spirit of poor, deeply-
wronged, kidnapped Levin was at rest within the
They placed the lifeless form in a rude coffin,
and bore it to its lowly grave. Where is the
ruffian that stole him from his home and his mother,
84 THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
never again to look upon them, and consigned him
to the multiplied wrongs and villanies of slavery ?
The time will come when the justice of the Al-
mighty will certainly find him out.
The death of this dear brother, whom he loved
with a strong and yearning affection, cast a heavy
gloom upon Peter's spirits. He felt that he was
now alone. All his cherished hopes of one day
attaining freedom were associated with Levin.
There was none now to share with him the
memories of their early childhood, their mother's
love, and of the sad day when they were stolen
INA had griefs of her own,
as well as those her faithful
heart shared with her hus-
band. Vina was Aunt Sally's
favourite child; and she was de-
votedly attached to her mother.
It was a comfort to the old
slave when her daughter became the wife of
Peter. In one of her frequent conversations with
old Moses, her husband, on this subject she re-
marked, I's mighty glad de poor chile done got
married. 'Pears like she won't be so lonesome
now. I'd like to see her ole mas'r. But her
missus; she's a screamer Vina say de little gal
whar waits in de house gits her back cut up power-
ful, and she's a sickly little thing. Hi won't dem
kind o' ladies catch it mighty when de bad man
gits 'em? De Lord years all de screams o' His
chilluns; and He ain't gwine put harps o' gold in
dem dere hands, whar's allers a playing' wid de
Suddenly old Sally's master announced his
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
intention to remove with all his able slaves to
Florida, of whose beauty and fertility he had
heard flattering accounts. Aunt Sally was over-
whelmed with sorrow, for the parting from her
children might be a final one; and such was the
pressure of the crop up to the very day of setting
out she had no time to visit her daughter, whom
she had not seen for several years. She must set
off on this dreary journey without telling her loved
Vina did not hear of the intended removal of
Mr. Peoples and his servants, until her mother
was already in Florida, and scarcely a hope re-
mained that they would ever meet again. Her
grief was extreme to lose her mother thus with-
out even a parting message This was harder than
all her previous trials.
Happily for Vina, Mr. Peoples did not like
Florida; and when he had made one crop he re-
turned with all his slaves in glad procession to his
former home. How did Vina's heart dance for
-joy when, soon after their return, Aunt Sally was
permitted to pay a visit to her daughter !
Thanks to Peter's industry, Vina and her
children had always decent clothing, and their
cabin boasted many convenient articles of furni-
ture, such as slaves seldom possess. And to the
scanty dole of meal and bacon served out to them
on the plantation, Peter found means of adding a
little coffee and sugar, or a few pounds of flour.
Aunt Sally rode briskly homewards, proud and
happy that Vina had found so good a husband, and
had two such peart chilluns." Her joy endures
but for a few months, and is then painfully inter-
rupted. The tidings circulated through the negro
quarters, to the consternation of all the inhabitants
of those cabins, that Mr. Peoples has bought a
plantation on the Gulf Coast, and thither his slaves
are all to be conveyed as soon as they can make
the necessary preparations for the journey.
The good old woman had taken a heart-
breaking farewell of Quall, her son, who remained
behind. It was their last fond meeting-their last
heart-crushed Good-bye." Then old Sally and
her companions in trouble proceeded on their
dreary journey. The rendezvous for starting down
the river was at Bainbridge; and this being only
a few miles from McKiernan's plantation, a faint
hope sprang up in her mind that she might once
more see her daughter, and bid her a final fare-
well. She determined at least to make an effort.
Arrived at Bainbridge, she had to wait for the
boats. Seeing a gentleman slowly riding by, Aunt
Sally approached him almost in despair. He pitied
her distress, and listened kindly while she recited
the cause of her sorrow.
So your daughter is at McKiernan's ? What
is her name ? "
Her name Vina, Sir."
Vina ? Why that's Peter's wife."
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
"Yes, Sir, her man name Peter. He 'longs to
Mas'r Levi Gist."
Well, I'm his brother, Andrew Gist. I'll find
Vina myself, and send her down to see you.
Come, cheer up, aunty, you'll have good times
Well mounted he rode fast, and soon made
up to a group of women in McKiernan's field.
"Which of you all," he inquired, "has a mother at
Peoples' ? "
It's Vina's mother whar lives dar, Sir. Yon's
Vina," said a young girl, pointing to a woman who
was working apart from the rest.
How dy'e, Vina ? said the rider, "does your
mother belong to Peoples ? "
Well, if you go down to the landing, you'll see
the last of her, I reckon, for she's going down the
river. Peoples is moving down to the coast."
He turned and rode away; andVina gazed after
him in speechless terror. Her mother! The coast!
How could it be ? As soon as she recovered her-
self a little, she left the field, and took her course
with trembling steps to the house. Fortunately
both master and mistress were at home, and she
happened to find them in unruffled mood. She
told them what Mr. Gist had said; and they bade
her go to the landing, and stay with her mother as
long as the boats remained.
As she neared the landing she beheld many
fires, and around them groups of unhappy slaves.
All were weeping and sad; for there was scarcely
one that was not enduring the pang of hopeless
separation from husband, wife, children, or parents.
Vina could not hear her mother's voice in the sad
murmur that met her ear. But, entering one of
the flat boats there, on a low stool, near a fire, sat
a female figure looking quite disconsolate and hope-
less. Vina came near, and Aunt Sally, lifting her
head, sprang up, and with a cry of intermingled
anguish and joy, clasped her daughter to her breast.
" O, my chile," she exclaimed, I's studying' 'bout
you, whether I's ever gwine see you agin or not."
She sobbed aloud. 0 how can I go and leave
you, honey ? I shan't neber come back no more !
Way down on the sugar farm I shall die, and der
won't be no daughter dar to see 'em lay me in de
It was Friday; and after Vina had been there
some hours, until near midnight, it was announced
that the boats would not probably leave Bainbridge
until Monday morning. Aunt Sally obtained per-
mission to spend the next day with Vina. Swiftly
sped the hours of that day, and at night Vina
accompanied her mother back to the landing.
There they parted, the mother promising to return
in the morning and spend that day also with her
Early dawn saw the loving Vina on her way
to the river. She walked rapidly, for every moment
THE STOLEN CHILDREN.
was precious. She came in sight of the landing,
and started back with a heavy groan; for there
all is vacancy where she had expected to find her
mother. There are smouldering fires, and here
and there a bit of an old blanket that has been
forgotten. But the boats are gone!
She meets her mother no more. That Gulf
farm is fatal to many of Mr. Peoples' slaves. After
gathering only one crop, he sold his plantation and
removed to Mississippi, there to resume the culti-
vation of corn and cotton. Aunt Sally went with
him there. After several years she sank peacefully
to the grave, her heart filled with holy joy and
triumph over death. All who saw the light of
love and hope beaming from her eye in the dying
hour knew that she had been with Jesus. And
those who saw the heavenly smile that lingered on
her face when her pulse was still, and her cold
hands lay meekly folded across her breast, felt
that she was with Jesus, and that her happy spirit
had reached the happy home where she had so
often longed to be at rest.
Her master, who had always been kind to her,
wrote to her children to inform them of her
decease, and her final triumph over the powers of
In October, 1831, another little voice was heard
in Vina's cabin. While her children were small,
not an article of clothing was provided for them
by their owner-not until they were old enough to