Chapter IV: Departure of Maggie

The country-seat of Franks, or the ' great house' of the cotton plantation, was but a short distance from the city. Mrs. Franks, by the advice of her physician, was removed there to avoid the disturbance of the town, when at the same time Mrs. Ballard left with her slave Maggie en route for Baltimore, whither she designed leaving her until ready to sail for Cuba.
'Fahwell, my chile! fahwell ; may God A'mighty be wid you!' were the parting words of the poor old slave, who with streaming eyes gazed upon her parting child for the last time.
'O mammy! can't you save me?— O Lord, what shall I do! O my husband ! O my poor child ! O my ! O my !' were the only words, the sounds of which died upon the breeze, as the cab hastily bore her to a steamer then lying at the wharf.
Poor old mammy Judy sat at the kitchen door with elbow resting upon her knee, side of the face resting in the palm of the hand, tears streaming down, with a rocking motion, noticing nothing about her, but in sorrow moaning just distinctly enough to be understood :
5'Po me! po me! po me!'
The sight was enough to move the heart of any one, and it so affected Franks, that he wished he had ' never owned a negro.'
Daddy Joe, the husband of mammy Judy, was a field hand on the cotton place, visiting his wife at the town residence, every Saturday night. Colonel Franks was a fine, grave, senatorial looking man, of medium height, inclined to corpulency, black hair, slightly grey, and regarded by his slaves as a good master, and religiously as one of the best of men.
On their arrival at the great house, those working nearest, gathered around the carriage, among whom was daddy Joe.
Wat a mautta wid missus?' was the general inquiry of the gang.
10' Your mistress is sick, boys,' replied the master.
'Maus, whah's Margot?' enquired the old man, on seeing his mistress carried into the house without the attendance of her favorite maid-servant.
' She's in town, Joe,' replied Franks.
' How's Judy, seh?'
' Judy is well.'
15'Tank'e seh!' politely concluded the old man, with a bow, turning away in the direction of his work, with a countenance expressive of anything but satisfaction, from the interview.
The slaves from their condition, are suspicious, any evasion or seeming design at suppressing the information sought by them, frequently arouses their greatest apprehensions.
Not unfrequently the mere countenance, a look, a word, or laugh of the master, is an unerring foreboding of misfortune to the slave. Ever on the watch for these things, they learn to read them with astonishing precision.
This day was Friday, and the old slave consoled himself with the thought that on the next evening he would be able to see and know for himself the true state of things about his master's residence in town. The few hours intervening were spent with great anxiety, which was even observed by his fellow-slaves.
At last came Saturday evening and with it, immediately after sunset, daddy Joe made his appearance at the hall-door of the great house, tarrying only long enough to inquire ' How's missus ?' and receive the reply, ' she's better,' when a few moments found him quite out of sight, striding his way down the lane toward the road to the city.
20The sudden and unexpected fate of Maggie had been noised among the slaves throughout the entire neighborhood ; many who had the opportunity of doing so, repairing to the house to learn the facts.
In the lower part of the town, bordering on the river there is a depot or receptacle for the slave gangs brought by professional traders. This part of the town is known as ' Natchez under the Hill.' It is customary among the slaves when any of their number are sold, to say that they are gone ' under the hill,' and their common salutation through the day was, that ' Franks' Mag had gone under the hill.'
As with quickened steps daddy Joe approached the town, his most fearful apprehensions became terribly realised when meeting a slave who informed him that ' Margot had gone under the hill.' Falling upon his knees, in the fence corner, the old man raised his voice in supplication of Divine aid :
' O Laud ! dow has promis' in dine own wud, to be a fadah to de fadaless, an' husban to de widah! O Laud, let dy wud run an' be glorify! Sof'en de haud haut ob de presseh, an' let my po' chile cum back ! an'—'
' Stop that noise there, old nigger!' ordered a patrol approaching him ; ' who's boy are you ?'
25'Sahvant, mausta !' saluted the old slave, ' I b'long to cunel Frank, seh!' ' Is this old Joe? ' Dis is me maus Johnny.' ' You had better trudge along home then, as it's likely old Judy wants to see you about this time.'
'Tank'e seh,' replied the old man, with a bow, feeling grateful that he was permitted to proceed.
' Devilish good, religious old negro,' he remarked to his associates, as the old man left them in the road.
A few minutes more, and daddy Joe entered the kitchen door at his master's residence. Mammy Judy, on seeing him, gave vent afresh to bitter wailing, when the emotion became painfully mutual.
' O husban'! husban'! ouah po' chile is gone!' exclaimed the old woman, clasping him around the neck.
30' Laud! dy will be done!' exclaimed he, ' ole 'umin, look to de Laud ! as he am suffishen fah all tings;' both falling on their knees, breathed in silence their desires to God.
'How long! how long! O Laud how long!' was the supplicating cry of the old woman, being overcome with devotion and sorrow.
Taking the little grand-child in his arms—'Po' chile,' said the old man, ' I wish yeh had nebeh been baun!' impressing upon it kisses whilst it slept.
After a fervent and earnest prayer to God for protection to themselves, little grand-son Joe, the return of his mother their only child, and blessings upon their master and the recovery of their mistress, the poor old slaves retired to rest for the evening, to forget their sorrows in the respite of sleep.
To Chapter V

Textual Notes

1,] 59; not in 61
1en route] 59; en route 61
4:] 59; . 61
5me!] 59; '! 61
5po] 59; 'Po'! po' me! 61
5po] 59; me! po' me!' 61
6the] 59; the hardest heart, 61
6of any one] 59; not in 61
7,] 59; not in 61
8,] 59; not in 61
9Wat] 59; 'What 61
9mautta] 59; mahtter 61
11maid-servant] 59; servant 61
15/ 'Tank'e] 59; well.' / 'Tank'e, seh!' 61
18that] 59; thought that, on 61
23wud] 59; word 61
23fadah] 59; fader 61
23fadaless] 59; faderless 61
23widah] 59; wider 61
23dy wud] 59; thy work 61
23an'] 59; and 61
23haut] 59; heart 61
23presseh] 59; presser 61
23'—'] 59; '— 61
25Sahvant] 59; Sarvant 61
25?] 59; ?' 61
29ouah] 59; our 61
30fah] 59; fer 61
30;'] 59; ,' 61
32nebeh] 59; neber 61