Chapter VIII: The Sale

' Dah now, dah now !' exclaimed mammy Judy; 'jis wat ole man been tellin' on yeh ! Yeh go out yandah, yeh kick up yeh heel, git yeh head clean full proclamation an' sich like dat, an' let debil fool yeh, den go fool long wid wite folks long so, sho! Bettah go 'bout yeh bisness ; been sahvin' God right, yeh no call t'do so eh reckon !'
' I dont care what comes! my course is laid out and my determination fixed, and nothing they can do can alter it. So you and daddy Joe, mammy, had just as well quit your preaching to me the religion you have got from your oppressors.'
' Soul-driveh git yeh, yeh cah git way fom dem eh don recken ! Sho chile, yeh, ain' dat mighty!' admonished mammy Judy.
' Henry my chile, look to de Laud! look to de Laud ? case 'e 'lone am able t' bah us up in ouah trouble ! an—'
5' Go directly sir, to captain John Harris' office and ask him to call immediately to see me at my house !' ordered Franks.
Politely bowing, Henry immediately left the premises on his errand.
' Laud a' messy maus Stephen !' exclaimed mammy Judy, on hearing the name of John Harris the negro-trader; hope yeh arteh no haum ! gwine sell all on us to de tradehs ?
' Hoot-toot, hoot-toot! Judy, give yourself no uneasiness about that, till you have some cause for it. So you and Joe may rest contented Judy,' admonished Franks.
' Tank'e maus Stephen! case ah heahn yeh tell Henry dat yeh sell de las' nig—'
10' Hush! ole umin, hush ! yeh tongue too long ! Put yeh trus' in de Laud !' interrnpted daddy Joe.
' I treat my black folks well,' replied Franks; 'and all they have to—'
Here the door bell having been rung, he was interrupted with a message from Ailcey, that a gentleman awaited his presence in the parlor.
At the moment which the Colonel left the kitchen, Henry stepped over the style into the yard, which at once disclosed who the gentleman was to whom the master had been summoned.
Henry passed directly around and behind the house.
15' See, ole man, see! reckon 'e gwine dah now! whispered mammy Judy, on seeing Henry pass through the yard without going into the kitchen.
' Whah ?' enquired daddy Joe.
' Dun'o out yandah, whah 'e gwine way from wite folks !' she replied.
The interview between Franks and the trader Harris was not over half an hour duration, the trader retiring, Franks being prompt and decisive in all of his transactions, making little ceremony.
So soon as the front door was closed, Ailcey smiling bore into the kitchen a half pint glass of brandy, saying that her master had sent it to the old people.
20The old man received it with compliments to his master, pouring it into a black jug in which there was both tansy and garlic, highly recommending it as a ' bitters' and certain antidote for worms, for which purpose he and the old woman took of it as long as it lasted, though neither had been troubled with that particular disease since the days of their childhood.
' Wat de gwine do wid yeh meh son?' enquired mammy Judy as Henry entered the kitchen.
' Sell me to the soul-drivers ! what else would they do?'
' Yeh gwin 'tay 'bout till de git yeh?'
' I shant move a step ! and let them do their—!'
25' Maus wants to see yeh in da front house Henry,' interrupted Ailcey, he immediately obeying the summons.
' Heah dat now !' said mammy Judy, as Henry followed the maid out of the kitchen.
' Carry this note sir, directly to captain Jack Harris !' ordered Franks, handing to Henry a sealed note. Receiving it, he bowed politely, going out of the front door, directly to the slave prison of Harris.
Eh heh! I see,' said Harris on opening the note ; ' colonel Frank's boy; walk in here;' passing through the office into a room which proved to be the first department of the slave-prison. ' No common negro I see ! you're a shade higher. A pretty deep shade too ! Can read, write cipher ; a good religious fellow, and has a Christian and sir name. The devil you say ! Who's your father ? Can you preach ?'
' I have never tried,' was the only reply.
30' Have you ever been a menber of Congress?' continued Harris with ridicule.
To this Henry made no reply.
' Wont answer hey ! beneath your dignity. I understand that you're of that class of gentry who dont speak to common folks ! You're not quite well enough dressed for a gentleman of your cloth. Here! Mr. Henry, I'll present you with a set of ruffles : give yourself no trouble sir, as I'll dress you ! I'm here for that purpose,' said Harris, fastening upon the wrists of the manly bondman, a heavy pair of handcuffs.
' You hurt my wrist!' admonished Henry.
' New clothing will be a little tight when first put on. Now sir!' continued the trader, taking him to the back door and pointing into the yard at the slave gang there confined; ' as you have been respectably dressed, walk out and enjoy yourself among the ladies and gentleman there ; you'll find them quite a select company.'
35Shortly after this the sound of the bell-ringer's voice was heard—a sound which usually spread terror among the slaves : ' Will be sold this afternoon at three o'clock by public outcry, at the slave-prison of captain John Harris, a likely choice negro-fellow, the best trained body servant in the state, trained to the business by the most accomplished lady and gentleman negro-trainers in the Mississippi Valley. Sale positive without a proviso.'
'Dah, dah! did'n eh tell yeh so?' Ole man, ole man ! heah dat now ! Come heah. Dat jis what I been tellin on im, but 'e uden blieve me !
ejaculated old mammy Judy on hearing the bell ring and the hand bill read.
Falling upon their knees, the two old slaves prayed fervently to God, thanking him that it was as ' well with them' as it was.
' Bless de Laud ! my soul is happy !' cried out mammy Judy being overcome with devotion, clapping her hands.
40' Tang God, fah wat I feels in my soul !' responded daddy Joe.
Rising from their knees with tears trickling down their cheeks, the old slaves endeavored to ease their troubled souls by singing—
' Oh, when shall my sorrows subside,
And when shall my troubles be ended;
Aud when to the bosom of Christ be conveyed,
To the mansions of joy and bliss;
To the mansions of joy and bliss!'
45' Wuhthy to be praise ! blessed be de name uh de Laud ! Po' black folks, de Laud o'ny knows wats t' come ob us !' exclaimed mammy Judy. ' Look to de Laud ole umin, 'e's able t' bah us out mo' neh conkeh. Keep de monin stah in sight!' advised daddy Joe.
' Yes ole man yes, dat I is done dis many long day, an' ah ain' gwine lose sight uh it now ! No, God bein' my helpeh, I is gwine keep my eyes right on it, dat I is !'
As the hour of three drew near, many there were going in the direction of the slave-prison, a large number of persons having assembled at the sale.
'Draw near,gentlemen! draw near!' cried Harris ; ' the hour of sale is arrived : a positive sale with no proviso, cash down, or no sale at all !' A general laugh succeeded the introduction of the auctioneer.
' Come up here my lad!' continued the auctioneer, wielding a long red rawhide ; ' mount this block, stand beside me, an' let's see which is the best looking man ! We have met before, but I never had the pleasure of introducing you. Gentlemen one and all, I take pleasure in introducing to you Henry—pardon me sir—Mr.
50Henry Holland, I believe—am I right sir ?—Mr. Henry Holland, a good looking fellow you will admit.
' I am offered one thousand dollars; one thousand dollars for the best looking negro in all Mississippi ! If all the negro boys in the state was as good looking as him, I'd give two thousand dollars for 'em all myself !' This caused another laugh. ' Who'll give me one thousand five—'
Just then a shower of rain came on.
' Gentlemen !' exclaimed the auctioneer ; ' without a place can be obtained large enough to shelter the people here assembled, the sale will have to be postponed. This is a proviso we could'nt foresee, an' therefore is not responsible for it.' There was another hearty laugh.
A whisper went through the crowd, when presently a gentleman came forward saying, that those concerned had kindly tendered the use of the Church, which stood near by, in which to continue the sale.
55' Here we are again, gentlemen ! Who bids five hundred more for the likely negro fellow? I am offered fifteen hundred dollars for the finest negro servant in the state ! Come my boy bestir yourself an' dont stan' there like a statue; cant you give us a jig? whistle us a song! I forgot, the negro fellow is religious ; by the by, an excellent recommendation gentlemen. Perhaps he'll give us a sermon. Say, git up there old fellow, an' hold forth. Cant you give us a sermon on Abolition ? I'm only offered fifteen hundred dollars for the likely negro boy ! Fifteen, sixteen, sixteen hundred dollars, seventeen hundred, just agoing at—eighteen, eighteen, nineteen hundred, nineteen nineteen! Just agoing at nineteen hundred dollars for the best body servant in the State; just agoing at nineteen and without a better bid I'll—going ! going ! go—!'
Just at this point a note was passed up the aisle to the auctioneer, who after reading it said:
' Gentlemen! circumstances beyond my control, make it necessary that the sale be postponed until one day next week; the time of continuance will be duly announced,' when bowing he left the stand.
' That's another proviso not in the original bill!' exclaimed a voice as the auctioneer left the stand, at which there were peals of laughter.
To secure himself against contingency, Harris immediately delivered Henry over to Franks. There were present at the sale, Crow, Slider, Walker, Borbridge, Simpson, Hurst, Spangler and Williams, all noted slave traders, eager to purchase, some on their return home, and some with their gangs en route for the southern markets.
60The note handed the auctioneer read thus:
' CAPT. HARRIS:—Having learned that there are private individuals at the sale, who design purchasing my negro man, Harry, for his own personal advantage, you will peremptorily postpone the sale—making such apology as the occasion demands—and effect a private sale with Richard Crow, Esq., who offers me two thousand dollars for him. Let the boy return to me. Believe me to be,
Very Respectfully, STEPHEN FRANKS.
Capt. John Harris.
Natchez, Nov. 29th, 1852.'
65' Now sir,' said Franks to Henry, who had barely reached the house from the auction block ; ' take this pass and go to Jackson and Woodville, or anywhere else you wish to see your friends, so that you be back against Monday afternoon. I ordered a postponement of the sale, thinking that I would try you awhile longer, as I never had cause before to part with you, Now see if you can't be a better boy !'
Eagerly taking the note, thanking him with a low bow, turning away, Henry opened the paper, which read:
' Permit the bearer my boy Henry, sometimes calling himself Henry Holland—a kind of negro pride he has—to pass and repass wherever he wants to go, he behaving himself properly.
To all whom it may concern.
70Natchez, Nov. 29th, 1852.'
Carefully depositing the charte volante in his pocket wallet, Henry quietly entered the hut of mammy Judy and daddy Joe.
To Chapter IX

Textual Notes

1Dah] 59; Dar 61
1dah] 59; dar 61
1yandah] 59; yondeh 61
1yeh] 59; ye 61
1Bettah] 59; Betteh 61
1bisness] 59; business 61
1sahvin] 59; sarvin 61
1eh] 59; I 61
2dont] 59; don't 61
3cah] 59; can' 61
3fom] 59; from 61
3eh] 59; I 61
3don] 59; I don' recken! 61
3,] 59; not in 61
4case] 59; case he 'lone 61
4e '] 59; not in 61
4t' bah] 59; to bar 61
4ouah] 59; our 61
5!'] 59; ! 61
7a] 59; not in 61
7messy] 59; a messey 61
7negro-trader] 59; negro trader 61
7negro-trader;] 59; trader; 'hope yeh 61
7arteh] 59; arter 61
7on] 59; ob 61
7?] 59; ?' 61
9ah heahn] 59; I hearn 61
10yeh] 59; yo 61
10interrnpted] 59; interrupted 61
13summoned. Henry] 59; been summoned, he having been met by the / messenger in the street. 61
15dah] 59; dar 61
15!] 59; !' 61
16Whah] 59; Whar 61
17Dun] 59; Don 61
17Dun'o] 59; Joe. / 'Don'o, out 61
17yandah] 59; yondeh 61
17whah] 59; whar 61
18of] 59; not in 61
21meh] 59; my 61
22soul-drivers] 59; soul drivers 61
23gwin] 59; gwine stay 61
23tay '] 59; not in 61
25da] 59; de 61
26Heah] 59; Hear 61
27-28Harris.] 59; Harris. / 'Eh heh! 61
28colonel] 59; Colonel 61
28you're] 59; your 61
28write] 59; write, cipher; 61
28sir name] 59; surname 61
30menber] 59; member 61
32You're] 59; Your 61
32set] 59; pair 61
34gentleman] 59; gentlemen 61
35bell-ringer] 59; bellringer 61
35spread] 59; spreads 61
35.'] 59; . 61
36Dah] 59; Dar 61
36dah] 59; dar 61
36eh] 59; I 61
36heah] 59; hear 61
36heah] 59; hear 61
36what] 59; wat 61
36on] 59; on 'im, but 61
36!] 59; !' 61
37hand bill] 59; handbill 61
40fah] 59; for 61
40!'] 59; ! 61
42,] 59; not in 61
42Aud] 59; And 61
43joy] 59; Joy 61
45Wuhthy] 59; Wurthy 61
45uh] 59; ob 61
45o] 59; on 61
45ny] 59; y 61
45t'] 59; to 61
45umin,] 59; umin, he's able 61
45e'] 59; not in 61
45t' bah] 59; to bar 61
45neh conkeh] 59; ner conker 61
45stah] 59; star 61
46is] 59; 's 61
46ah] 59; I 61
46gwine] 59; gwin 61
46uh] 59; ob 61
48'] 59; not in 61
48with] 59; and 61
49the auctioneer] 59; he 61
49rawhide] 59; cowhide 61
50fellow] 59; feller 61
54Church,] 59; church 61
55gentlemen] 59; gentleman 61
55fellow] 59; feller 61
55boy] 59; my boy, bestir 61
55fellow] 59; feller 61
55fellow] 59; feller 61
55, sixteen] 59; not in 61
55nineteen] 59; hundred, nineteen, nineteen! 61
55State] 59; state 61
57, make] 59; makes 61
57,'] 59; !' 61
3en route] 59; en route 61
60handed] 59; handed to the 61
61,] 59; not in 61
61personal advantage] 59; personal advantage 61
65anywhere] 59; any where 61
65afternoon] 59; noon 61
65,] 59; . 61
66,] 59; not in 61
67sometimes] 59; some times 61
71charte volante] 59; charte volante 61