Chapter III: The Fate of Maggie

After dinner colonel Franks again pressed the inquiry concerning the disposition of his lady. At this time the maid was in the culinary department taking her dinner. The children having been served, she preferred the company of her old mother whom she loved, the children hanging around, and upon her lap. There was no servant save the boy Tony present in the parlor.
' I can't, I won't let her go! she's a dear good girl!' replied Mrs. Franks. ' The children are attached to her, and so am I; let Minny or any other of them go—but do not, for Heaven's sake, tear Maggie from me !'
' Maria, my dear, you've certainly lost your balance of mind ! Do try and compose yourself,' admonished the Colonel. 'There' s certainly no disposition to do contrary to your desires ; try and be a little reasonable.'
' I'm sure cousin, I see no cause for your importunity. No one that I know of designs to hurt the negro girl. I'm sure it's not me !' impatiently remarked Mrs. Ballard.
5During this, the boy had several times gone into the hall, looking toward the kitchen, then meaningly into the parlor as if something unusual were going on.
Mammy Judy becoming suspicious, went into the hall and stood close beside the parlor door, listening at the conversation.
' Cousin, if you will listen for a moment, I wish to say a word to you,' said Mrs. Ballard. ' The Judge, as you know, has a country seat in Cuba near the city of Havana, where we design making every year our winter retreat. As we cannot take with us either free negroes or white servants, on account of the existing restrictions, I must have a slave, and of course I prefer a well-trained one, as I know all of yours to be. The price will be no object; as I know it will be none to you it shall be none to me.'
'I will not consent to part with her cousin Arabella, and it is useless to press the matter any further!' emphatically replied Mrs. Franks.
'I am sure cousin Maria, it was well understood between the Colonel and the Judge, that I was to have one of your best-trained maid servants!' continued Mrs. Ballard.
10' The Colonel and the Judge ! If any such understanding exist, it is without my knowledge and consent, and—
' It is true, my dear,' interposed the Colonel, ' but—
' Then,'replied she, 'heaven grant that I may go too ! from—'
' Pah, pah! cousin Maria Franks I'm really astonished at you to take on so about a negro girl! You really appear to have lost your reason. I would not behave so for all the negroes in Mississippi.'
' My dear,' said Franks, ' I have been watching the conduct of that girl for some time past; she is becoming both disobedient and unruly, and as I have made it a rule of my life never to keep a disobedient servant, the sooner we part with her the better. As I never whip my servants, I do not want to depart from my rule in her case.'
15Maggie was true to her womanhood, and loyal to her mistress, having more than once communicated to her ears facts the sound of which reflected no credit in his. For several repulses, such as this, it was that she became obnoxious to her master.
' Cousin Maria, you certainly have forgotten ; I'm sure, when last at the North, you promised in presence of the girl, that I was to have her, and I'm certain she's expecting it,' explained Mrs. Ballard.
' This I admit,' replied Mrs. Franks, ' but you very well know, cousin Arabella, that that promise was a mere ruse, to reconcile an uneasiness which you informed me you discovered in her, after overhearing a conversation between her and some free negroes, at Saratoga Springs.'
Well, cousin, you can do as you please,' concluded Mrs. Ballard.
'Colonel, I'm weary of this conversation. What am I to expect?' inquired Mrs. Franks.
20' It's a settled point, my dear, she must be sold!' decisively replied Franks.
'Then I must hereafter be disrespected by our own slaves! You know, Colonel, that I gave my word to Henry, her husband, your most worthy servant, that his wife should be here on his return. He had some misgiving that she was to be taken to Cuba before his return, when I assured him that she should be here. How can I bear to meet this poor creature, who places every confidence in what we tell him? He'll surely be frantic.'
' Nonsense, cousin, nonsense,' sneered Mrs. Ballard ; ' frantic, indeed ! Why you speak of your negro slaves as if speaking of equals. Make him know that whatever you order, he must be contented with.'
I'll soon settle the matter with him, should he dare show any feelings about it!' interposed Franks ; ' when do you look for him, Maria?'
' I'm sure, Colonel, you know more about the matter than I do. Immediately after you left, he took the horses to Baton Rouge, where at the last accounts, he was waiting the conclusion of the races. Judge Dilbreath had entered them according to your request one horse for each day's races. I look for him every day. Then there are more than him to reconcile. There's old mammy Judy, who will run mad about her. You know, Colonel, she thought so much of her, that she might be treated tenderly the old creature gave up her situation in the house as nurse and foster-mother to our children, going into the kitchen to do the harder work.'
25'Well, my dear, we'll detain your cousin till he comes. I'll telegraph the Judge that if not yet left, to start him home immediately.'
' Colonel that will be still worse, to let him witness her departure ; I would much rather she'd leave before his return Poor thing!' she sighed.
'Then she may go !' replied he.
' And what of poor old mammy and his boy?'
' I'll soon settle the matter with old Judy.'
30Mrs. Franks looking him imploringly in the face, let drop her head, burying her face in the palms of her hands. Soon it was found necessary to place her under the care of a physician.
Old mammy Judy had long since beckoned her daughter, where both stood in breathless silence catching every word that passed.
At the conclusion, Maggie clasping her hands, exclaimed in suppressed tones,—
' O mammy, O mammy! what shall I do? O, is there no hope for me? Can't you beg master—can't you save me!'
'Look to de Laud, my chile! him ony able to bring yeh out mo' nah conkeh !' was the prayerful advice of the woe-stricken old mother; both hastening into the kitchen, falling upon their knees, invoked aloud the God of the oppressed.
35Hearing in that direction an unusual noise, Franks hastened past the kitchen door, dropping his head, and clearing his throat as he went along. This brought the slaves to an ordinary mood, who trembled at his approach.
To Chapter IV

Textual Notes

2Minny] 59; Minney 61
2!'] 59; !" 61
7.] 59; , 61
7Cuba] 59; in Cuba, near 61
7you] 59; to you, it 61
8her] 59; h her, cousin Arabella 61
9sure] 59; m sure, cousin Maria 61
10—] 59; —' 61
11—] 59; —' 61
13Franks] 59; a Franks, I'm reall 61
14her] 59; with her, the 61
16;] 59; , 61
16,] 59; not in 61
17,] 59; ; 61
17ruse] 59; ruse 61
17-18Springs.'] 59; Springs.' / 'Well, cousin 61
21,] 59; not in 61
21should] 59; would 61
22-23with.'] 59; with.' / 'I'll soo 61
24know] 59; now 61
24request] 59; your request, one 61
26return] 59; his return. 61
27.] 59; , 61
29-30Judy.'] 59; Judy.' / 'Mrs. Frank 61
33O,] 59; O, there is 61
33there] 59; not in 61
34nah conkeh] 59; ner conker 61