Chapter XVI: Solicitude and Amusement

Mrs. Franks sought the earliest opportunity for an interview with the major, concerning her favorite Maggie. The children now missed her, little Joe continued fretful, and her own troubled soul was pressed with anxiety.
On conversing with the major to her great suprise, she learned that the maid had been sold to a stranger, which intelligence he received from Mrs. Ballard herself, whom he met on the quay as he left Havana. The purchaser was a planter formely of Louisiana, a bachelor by the name of Peter Labonier. This person resided twelve miles from Havana, the proprietor of a sugar estate.
The apprehensions of Mrs. Franks on learning these facts, were aroused to a point of fearful anxiety. These fears were mitigated by the probable chance, in her favor by a change of owners, as his first day's possession of her, turned him entirely against her.
He would thus most probably part with her, which favored the desires of Mrs. Franks.
5She urged upon the Major as a favor to herself, to procure the release of Maggie, by his purchase and enfranchisement with free papers, of unconditional emancipation.
To this major Armsted gave the fullest assurance, at the earliest possible opportunity. The company were to meet at no distant day, when he hoped to execute the orders.
' How did you leave cousin Arabella, Judge ?' enquired Mrs. Franks, as he and the Colonel entered the parlor, directly from the back porch where they had been engaged for the last two hours in close conversation.
' Very well Maria ! when last heard from, a letter reaching me just before I left by the kindness of our mutual friend the Major. By the way, your girl and she did not get on so well I be—!'
An admonitory look from Franks, arrested the subject before the sentence was completed.
10Every reference to the subject was carefully avoided, though the Colonel ventured to declare, that henceforth, towards his servants, instead of leniency, he intended severity. They were becoming every day more and more troublesome, and less reliable. He intended in the language of his friend the Judge, to ' lay upon them a heavy hand' in future.
' I know your sentiments on this point,' he said in reply to an admonition from Armsted; ' and I used to entertain the same views, but experience has taught me better.'
' I shall not argue the point Colonel, but let you have your own way !' replied Armsted.
' Well Judge as you wish to become a southerner, you must first ' see the sights,' as children say, and learn to get used to them. I wish you to ride out with me to Captain Grason's, and you'll see some rare sport; the most amusing thing I ever witnessed,' suggested Franks.
' What is it?' enquired the Major.
15' The effect is lost by previous knowledge of the thing,' replied he. ' This will suit you Armsted, as you're fond of negro jokes.'
' Then Colonel let's be off,' urged the Major
' Off it is !' replied Franks, as he invited the gentlemen to take a seat in the carriage already at the door.
' Halloo, halloo, here you are Colonel ! Why major Armsted, old fellow, 'pon my word!' saluted Grason, grasping Armsted by the hand as they entered the porch.
' Judge Ballard ! sir,' said Armsted.
20' Just in time for dinner gentlemen ! Be seated,' invited he holding the Judge by the hand. Welcome to Mississippi sir! What's up gentlemen?'
' We've come out to witness some rare sport the Colonel has been telling us about,' replied the major.
' Blamed if I don't think the Colonel will have me advertised as a showman presently ! I've got a queer animal here; I'll show him to you after dinner,' rejoined Grason: 'Gentlemen, help yourself to brandy and water.'
Dinner over, the gentlemen walked into the pleasure grounds, in the rear of the mansion.
' Nelse, where is Rube ? Call him!' said Grason to a slave lad, brother to the boy he sent for.
25Shortly there came forward, a small black boy about eleven years of age, thin visage, projecting upper teeth, rather ghastly consumptive look, and emaciated condition. The child trembled with fear as he approached the group.
' Now gentlemen,' said Grason, ' I'm going to show you a sight !' having in his hand a long whip, the cracking of which he commenced, as a ring master in the circus.
The child gave him a look never to be forgotten ; a look beseeching mercy and compassion. But the decree was made, and though humanity quailed in dejected supplication before him, the command was imperative, with no living hand to stay the pending consequences. He must submit to his fate, and pass through the ordeal of training.
' Wat maus gwine do wid me now ? I know wat maus gwine do,' said this miserable child ; ' he gwine make me see sights!' when going down on his hands and feet, he commenced trotting around like an animal.
'Now gentlemen, look !' said Grason ; ' he'll whistle, sing songs, hymns, pray, swear like a trooper, laugh, and cry, all under the same state of feelings.'
30With a peculiar swing of the whip, bringing the lash down upon a certain spot on the exposed skin, the whole person being prepared for the purpose, the boy commenced to whistle almost like a thrush; another cut changed it to a song, another to a hymn, then a pitiful prayer, when he gave utterance to oaths which would make a Christian shudder, after which he laughed outright; then from the fullness of his soul he cried:
' O, maussa, I's sick ! Please stop little!' casting up gobs of hemorrhage.*
Franks stood looking on with unmoved muscles. Armsted stood aside whittling a stick; but when Ballard saw, at every cut the flesh turn open in gashes streaming down with gore, till at last in agony he appealed for mercy, he involuntary found his hand with a grasp on the whip, arresting its further application.
' Not quite a southerner yet Judge, if you can't stand that !' said Franks on seeing him wiping away the tears.
' Gentlemen help yourself to brandy and water. The little negro don't stand it nigh so well as formerly. He used to be a trump!'
35' Well Colonel,' said the Judge ; 'as I have to leave for Jackson this evening, I suggest that we return to the city.'
The company now left Grason's, Franks for the enjoyment of home, Ballard and Armsted for Jackson, and the poor boy Reuben from hemorrhage of the lungs, that evening left time for eternity.
* This is a true Mississippi scene.
To Chapter XVII

Textual Notes

1major] 59; Major 61
1Joe] 59; George 61
2major] 59; Major 61
2suprise] 59; surprise 61
2formely] 59; formerly 61
2bachelor] 59; batchelor 61
3,] 59; not in 61
3favor] 59; her favor, by 61
6major] 59; Major 61
6earliest] 59; first 61
10the subject] 59; it 61
11-12.' / ' I shall not argue the point Colonel, but let you have your own way !' replied Armsted] 59; not in 61
13'] 59; not in 61
16-17Major] 59; the Major. / 'Off 61
17gentlemen] 59; gentleman 61
18major] 59; Major 61
20hand.] 59; 'Welcome to 61
21major] 59; Major 61
22yourself] 59; yourselves 61
23into] 59; i 61
24boy] 59; boy for whom he 61
24for] 59; not in 61
25upper] 59; under 61
26the] 59; a 61
27pending] 59; impending 61
28know] 59; knows 61
28child] 59; child of pity; 'he 61
28an animal] 59; a brute 61
31gobs] 59; clots 61
32involuntary] 59; involuntarily 61
33the tears] 59; a stealing tear 61
34yourself] 59; yourselves 61
34a] 59; a very trump!' 61
35,'] 59; ' 61
36,] 59; ; 61
36hemorrhage] 59; homorrage 61