mess now. a crow



[ocr errors]

ments for a long absence, intending to I wish, or wedder you will take de consetake the unhappy girl to entirely new quence.”

- that is to say, to the continent of The “consequence” was an ugly put. Europe. There was, however, a good deal If it meant only a complaint to Mr. Chisto be thought of before he could turn his holm, he thought he could defend himself back upon his possessions.

by saying that he had no warrant for in

dulging the old woman; but if it meant a We now look once more toward Hig- berib next his predecessor over there, he son's Gap, where Mammy Cis one morning had no fancy for it at all. Conceiving as was in a state of great excitement, and he did that he had in this world a very despatched little Pinkie to the busha to distinct mission in which the fair sex was let him know that she wanted to see him. largely interested, he did not quite like “Whew!” said the young man ; "here's a coming face to face with cold obstruction.

I've shot at a pigeon and killed She let him ponder quietly. After a

" - the meaning of which excla- minute he said, “Well, I don't know what mation was supposed to be, that Mammy harm it can do. I take a great responsiCis was enamored of him, having fallen a bility, but I suppose you can inake all right victim to fascinations and embellishments with the proprietor. Yes, I will have the which he had been using for some days to house opened.” subjugate a coquette in the neighborhood.

“ Tank you, sar.

All will be well.” As a bit of fun, the dangerous rascal rather “ But, mainmy, what the deuce is the enjoyed the idea of the affaire; and he matter? You are not like yourself.” even speculated upon the bearing which he Sar, great trouble come upan me. My should adopt in case of his being intro- chile is sick, and I greatly fearful for de duced by the fond old creature to im- end. Ebberyting look black. You material acquaintances. He finished his member when you bring the nyoung solbreakfast briskly, rather curious to see dier buckra to see me?" how the wise woman would conduct her. Certainly; but what has that to do self. When he got to the ground floor he with it?” found her outside her own proper apart. “My good sar, I see de same cloud dat ment, sitting on a bench and rocking her- darken all now when one of dem, de bashself from side to side, occasionally groan- ful one, come before me. Eber since, de ing as she did so.

same cloud black about me an' my chile. “ How d'ye, mammy?” the busha said; And now she sicken as if de duppy call and hereupon the old body looked up, her. It is de spirit and not de body dat showing a very sad countenance.

bad.” “How d'ye, busha ? ” she answered. Well, I hope things will take a favor. “ You wanted to see me.”

able turn yet, mammy,” the busha said. “ I have to tell you, sar, dat I shall want The old lady busied herself that day in to use de big house dis evening. You will seeing that the big house was properly please open it and make them sweep away cleaned and dusted, and tried in that way de dus'.''

to keep down the dark presages that were There on nearly every estate, a larger oppressing her. Towards evening she athouse than that occupied by the busha, tired herself in a showy robe which had at kept for the convenience of the proprietor some time cost a great deal of money. in case he should choose to reside. It She put silk stockings on her feet, and unwas this house that Mammy Cis desired comfortably confined the same in satin to have at her disposal for a while. The shoes. Rings were on her fingers, braceoverseer could not tell what to make of lets round her arms, and on her head the such a request, and began to suspect that ordinary handkerchief was replaced by a the old lady was a little cracked. “ Have huge yellow turban, rich with pink flowers you got an order from big massa ?” he and tinsel

. The principal rooms in the asked.

large house were lighted up after sun“No, sar, I have not seen de big down, and the old lady took her seat there massa," she replied; "but dis mus' be in great state, ordering several negroes to done. I only want de pleace for to-night. be about the building in readiness to obey I will keep you from all blame, sar." her behests.

“ Yes, that's all very fine," said the Mammy Cis had been, as has been busha, “ but

hinted, a favorite slave; and while her Sar, what I say I mean, and you know charms were effective, had no doubt endat I don't always speak for noting. You joyed a vast deal of barbaric grandeur. will please to say if you will do what I | She had been indulged in all kinds of or

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

naments and attires that could set off her | Mammy Cis had been en retraite when beauty. She had been allowed to tyran- she first took to divination. Neither can nize over other slaves; and had enjoyed it be determined whether her greatness every kind of luxury according to her was thrust upon her by the invisible world, ideas. She was entirely ignorant, and in or whether she took to it as a good oldher grandest days became but little less lady-like vice. She possessed, says the uncouth than the negroes in the field. MŠ., some very curious powers, which it By consequence, when her bodily charms is useless to deny, or to daff aside as shalbegan to fade she was supplanted by a low imposture. How or why she came by younger slave, and relegated to the retire it there is no pretence at explaining.* ment in which she was first introduced in But to return. this narrative. Of course the condition of On the day of which we have been such a person was absolutely according to speaking, Sandy Chisholm had gone from the will of her owner. But generally, home on business, and was not expected faded favorites had not to complain of to return till next evening. In the afterilliberality on the part of their masters. noon Arabella issued orders through her If they relapsed into savagery, it was be attendants that a mule with a soft pad on cause that state was more congenial to it, and a man to lead it, were to be ready them than civilized life. They liked salt- in the cool of the evening. She apolofish and plantain better than the dainty gized to Miss Salmon for leaving her for a fare which they might have consumed. short time, and deputed Mr. Spence to erThey liked to stow away in old trunks the tertain the young lady. When the evenfinery of their former days, to be paraded, ing came she set off quietly and secretpossibly, on some exceptionally grand oc- ly, saying nothing of her destination casions; but the finery was never allowed until she was about a mile from Blenheim. to encroach upon the ease of everyday Then she informed her escort (consisting life. Above all, they enjoyed the dirt in of one man and three women, slaves) of which the negroes lived, and preferred to her intention to proceed by the least fre"pig it.” With all this, they were fond of quented paths that could be found to Hig. reminding those about them that they son's Gap. There she arrived about dusk; were not as ordinary slaves, and that and desiring all her attendants, save one "they could, an' if they would,” show woman, to remain without and to keep themselves to be of considerable impor out of sight, she dismounted and went tance.

stealthily towards the busha's house, the In Mammy Cis's case there was still a girl who had come with her professing to link to connect her with her ancient glory. know well how to guide her. But as they She had a daughter whom it was the pleas. crept along, the slave - girl's arm ure of her lord to distinguish above his touched by an unseen hand, and the voice other offspring, whom he allowed to bear of little Pinkie whispered, “ Miss Juny, de his surname, and whom he did his best to mammy say you is to come to the big bring up as an English gentlewoman. But house." this link had been, according to the cus- “ Who can have told ? ” said Arabella, tom of that society, reduced to the weak. amazed. est tenuity. The first step in Anglicising “Chaw, missy ! nobody tell,” said Juno; the child was to separate her from her Mammy Cis' know everyting. Come, mother. Intercourse between them was den.” more and more restricted as the girl grew The last words meant, “ Let us change up; on both sides the ties of nature were our course." This was accordingly done; to a great extent effaced, but more espe- and the party, guided by Pinkie, made for cially on the side of the daughter. Chil- the mansion. At the bottom of the stair dren thus recognized by their fathers have (which was outside the house) two negro in many instances disowned their mothers, women were in waiting, whó exclaimed especially while prosperous. Arabella had “Hei!” when they distinguished the fignot been utterly unnatural, but she had ures through the gloom. These preceded be tolerably unmindful of her dark par- Arabella up the steps, and ushered her ent.

And the old lady, however contempt. into the large hall, which was tolerably ible she might choose to appear to ordi. well lighted, and which looked brilliant to nary people, always endeavored to be a persons who had just come from the darkperson of some dignity in the eyes of her child, who had only too much encourage has been informed how the empress Josephine was in

* Since Ensign Clifton wrote this remark, the world ment to despise her.

her It is pot with certainty known how long would wcar a crown.


[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

ness outside. Mammy Cis, in gorgeous | Blenheim that he was at all likely to make
array, sat on a faded sofa, attended by a “ bairn” of. Being satisfied on these
two or three more women. She rose as points, she exhorted the young lady to
Arabella crossed the threshold, and said, drink her coffee, and herself set the ex-
“Welcome, Miss Bell; how d'ye, my ample of so doing. When this process
child ?" At the same moment the glasses had been gone through, the old lady
on a large sideboard at the end of the ordered all the negro women out of the
room began to jingle in an extraordinary apartment.
manner; presently the floor shook, and a “You is sick at heart, my chile ?” said
noise as of a multitude tramping was heard Mammy Cis, when she and Arabella were
as it were under the house. The negroes alone.
looked aghast, and were for an instant “Yes, mammy, I am very, very misera-
speechless with terror. Then they made able, and I feel as if I should die."
a rush towards the door, where Arabella • What misfortune come to make you
was still standing. But the old woman's sad ? "
voice arrested them. “Where you goin? “No misfortune ; only my heart sinks,
now, you creechas? "Tand quiet

, I tell and nothing can raise it.”
you; nothing goin' for hurt you. De “Dere come a buckra soldier lad here,
eart'quake pass.' It was all over; it had some time ago, who bring a shadow to de
not lasted three minutes; but it cast a house. You sure he not bring de sor-
mysterious awe over this meeting of the row ?."
mother and daughter. There was no em- “Oh, mammy, yes; you saw him. He
brace, nor any demonstration of affection told me so. Mammy, you are wise. You
between them. Arabella said, “How d'ye, can kill him. Do kill bim, and my heart
mammy?” and was conducted by Cis to will be light again."
the sofa, where they both seated them- “Ah! dis is de matter, den,” the sor-

ceress said. “De nyoung man doan't love You have come to live in the big house you back.” now, mammy?” inquired Arabella, open- “ Ob kill him ! kill him!” said Arabella, ing the conversation.

getting into one of her paroxysms. “ No, Miss Bell, I live where I did. “I think the nyoung man not bad. He But dat is not a place to receive a fine seem soft and gentle. He please me.” nyoung leady dat live more finer dan a “Yes, mammy, he is soft and gentle. princess.”

He is the dearest man alive. I would die “ Yes,” said Arabella ; " I live daintily, for him. But he is far away in England, and I have more than I wish for every- thinking nothing of the quadroon girl. thing splendid and delightful; but it does Tell me, mammy, is there a hope that he not make me happy."

will be true and will come out again?” “My chile," answered the mother, “I " It was dark about him when he was know what it is to live in grandeur, and here. It is all dark now. I can see nothI know your fader can be an open-handed ing clear about him, only as at de fust

I know, too, dat happiness don't trouble to me and mine concerning him.” come always wid fine tings."

“Cannot you tell me, mammy, whether “But, mammy, if you have come here to the light will come again? I will believe receive me, how could you know I was it if you say so." coming? I never spoke of it to a soul till “ My chile, I can see noting plain conafter I left Blenheim a little before sun- cerning you.' down."

“ But what do you see?” (66 I knew dis mornin' early dat you

would “ It is all dark about you. I can see come see me before midnight. Eberyting neider good man at your side, nor pickprepare dis mornin'. But now, Miss Bell

, ninny at your bres', and my heart doan't you will take some coffee and refresh tell of noting pleasant.” yourself. After dat I talk to you."

“ Then it is as I feared," returned AraOn a sign to the women, they proceeded bella placidly. “I am going to a far to some part of the establishment, from country. I have often seen this fate in which after a time they returned bearing the distance; now it is near.” two large cups of coffee, already sweet- “ Your heart is good ? ened and mixed with goat's milk, no waiter “Yes, for death my heart is good. I being used.

While the women were thought you could have given me comfort. absent, Mammy Cis had made inquiries At least you show me that no comfort is to concerning Sandy Chisholm, and as to be had.” whether there was any pickninoy about The sorceress did not reply. And as

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



[ocr errors]

Arabella looked towards her for her answer One day when Mr. Spence was exerting it was plain that her thoughts were else himself to amuse her, and Miss Salmon where. Her rapt gaze and motionless was not present, Arabella, being in a very figure attested it. The quadroon girl sat low condition, for the first time gave way still for a few minutes, until the old wom. before him to weeping and moaning. The an's form became less rigid; then she young man had presence of mind to ask pressed her arm.

no question and to exhibit no surprise, but “I see you meet de gentle buckra by de he redoubled his efforts to cheer her. cotton-tree in Broadrent Gully. But it not Suddenly she cast her glistening eyes upon a joyful meeting. De shadow dere still, him and said, “You are very good, Mr. and you is pale as death."

Spence, to try and comfort me. But it is “ í sball meet him," were Arabella's of no use; I know my fate." words;

“if it is in death, I shall meet him. Spence replied that her fate was, no Let me die, then.”

doubt, to be a healthy, happy woman, adArabella had now risen to go, for it was mired and beloved. But this remark getting late.

“Go in peace, my chile,” somehow disturbed her, and her humor said the old lady, as she took Arabella's changed. There came the bright flashing two hands in hers and pressed them gently. eye again, and the excited, imperious man“De Lard sen' you better tiogs dan I can "I shall not be long here, you may see for you.”

rest assured. You will live and be happy, And the young girl slid silently out into I hope. But if you care anything for me, the night, and summoning her slave, made there is a thing I will bind you to do for rapidly for the entrance-gate. As she my sake." turned out of the little square of buildings “ I shall only be too happy to serve you, the busha bappened to have come to the Miss Chisholm.” window to take a goblet of cool water off " That is well. Now listen to me. You the sill, and a gleam of moonlight showed recollect - you recollect our fellow-passenhim a figure such as he well knew the ger in the ‘Berkeley Castle. I mean, of estate did not own. Whereupon that course, Mr.- Mr. Clifton," and as she proyoung man, persuaded that some lady of nounced his name she rose and stamped distinction bad fallen a victim to his on the floor, and gave way to great rage.

ms, rushed to his toilet-table and Then coming up to Spence and speaking gilded the refined gold of his person as in a calm voice, though her whole frame much as was practicable in a few seconds. quivered with emotion, she went on : “You After that he sat in agony of expectation will go to England and kill him, for he has for some time, and passed a feverish, rest- killed me. I give this to you as a charge : less night - the first of many feverish, don't dare to disobey." This scene im. restless nights. And while he was waiting pressed Spence very profoundly. He per. in the furry of a vague hope, Arabella was ceived, or thought he perceived, that Clifproceeding bomeward in the horror of a ton had acted infamously; and, in generous vague despair. Heavy clouds obscured indignation, he thought it would be a chivthe moon,

and made the heavens as alrous act to dare the traitor to the field. gloomy as the chambers of her heart. But he did not take for granted everything

The desponding races can be induced that Arabella said about her own condiby an augury, a prophecy, or some equally tion. She had youth on her side, and trifing cause, to abandon hope or desire might probably outlive, and learn to smile of living. Once they take a freak of this over, her sad anticipations. It was not sort there is no turning them from it. long, however, before he saw reason to be They are as resolute to part with life as less confident on this head. Miss Chispeople of another temperament would be holm looked worse and worse, and all her to preserve it.

strange symptoms were aggravated. ByArabella was observed after this to be and-by a curious rumor got about among visited by frequent fits of excitement and the slaves, and soon found its way to the depression : the former made her eyes white people. “ Hei! missy nyam dirt," Aash like brilliants, and brought bright which means, eats dirt, - and imputed a spots of color to her now sunken cheek. disorder not uncommon among negroes She scarcely consumed food, and it was belonging to a race inhabiting a certain a marvel how she subsisted. Her father region on the African coast. These tribes had already selected a gentleman to act as were known to be addicted to melancholy attorney for his estates, and now pushed and suicide ; and when they fell into their on his preparations for departure vigor- despondency, they were observed to swalously,

low at times a sinall portion of a certain LIVING AGE. VOL. XXVI. 1304


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

kind of clay, the provocation to do which Mr. Chisholm and Mr. Spence looked at
was never understood, so far as Clifton each other, each wishing to know what the
was informed, although the fact that such a other thought of this proposal. It was a
practice indicated the worst form of hypo- place they would not have thought of; but
chondria was undoubted. As all the negro Sandy remarked, “ Cis is wonderfully saga-
tribes were not liable to this affliction, it cious sometimes. I can suggest nothing
was made a reproach to certain breeds of better. Suppose we go.”
them. “For you modda nyam dirt". Broadrent Gully was a cleft on the moun-
that is, “your mother ate dirt”. – being a tain-side opening an extensive view over
common form of reviling. It is to be many miles of variegated country, down
feared that Arabella had only too truly to the blue sea. It was a place for sight-
fallen into this dreadful infirmity which was seers and for pleasure-parties. But not
incidental to her mother's blood. Her only did it afford a glorious view — it was
father heard of the appearance of the in itself a romantic and remarkable local-
symptom with horror and alarm. He com- ity. The bottom of the cleft, which me-
pleted his preparations now with all speed, andered charmingly, was the boundary
engaged passages, and only on the day between two distinct formations of ground.
preceding that of embarkation told the On one side of it -- that is, to the right,
afflicted girl of the proposed change. She as you looked towards the sea - - the rock
received the announcement without show-rose steep and sharp as a whole, but beau-
ing emotion of any kind, and simply ac- tifully broken with rocky pillars and pro-
quiescing in the arrangement.

jections, interspersed with slopes and faces A little before sunset that evening the of earth, from which sprang forth grasses, sky was black with clouds, and as the night shrubs, and trees in much variety. The felí, there came on onc of those sudden rocks, where their shapes could be distinstorms with which dwellers in the tropics guished, were covered with mosses of are so well acquainted. Wind, lightning, many, colors; the thinly-clad spaces ditorrents of rain; nature convulsed, as if minished in number and size towards the she meant to wreck herself; and then after summit of the steep; and the trees bea few hours everything looking placid and came larger and stronger, the height being bright, as though there had been no tem- crowned with large timber, which was the pest.

border of a primeval forest tha stretched The next morning there was an alarm away for miles over the mountain. On the a great running to and fro — the young left side of the chasm the slope was genlady was nowhere to be found. Her father erally much easier. Here, too, the ground fancied that, in a fit of mania, she had was irregular; but it was not so ragged taken to flight; and he went himself and but that there was a turf all over it, which started all his neighbors to scour the roads spread itself in graceful irregularity. It and adjacent villages. The negroes had to rise gradually almost to the height seemed to see the hand of fate in her dis- of the opposite steep; but it had shown appearance, and took part in the search the waywardness of a spoiled beauty or an without hope of success, and uttering all Irishman's pig, in taking its direction, and kinds of melancholy reflections, such as, thus many a dint and fold diversified its “ I know it mus' come.” " She didn't care breadth. Trees stood about on this side, for live." “Me hear de duppy call her in but they were single or in very small de storm : him call her name."

O Lard, groups.

The distinction between the two she gone; and we doan't see her no more. ." sides of the cleft was not invariable. In

The search continued all day, but in one or two instances the rock stretched vain. Sandy Chisholm was in despair across at a low level, and penetrated a little when he found the evening approaching; way into the grass bank on the other side. and Mr. Spence, who had loyally kept at Where this occurred there was a sudden his side and assisted him, began to fear the step in the bottom of the cleft, which worst. They were some way from home, would make a waterfall when a stream and pausing to decide on what direction should be running in the channel. One of they next should take, when the overseer these outbreaks of the rock, bringing over from Higson's Gap. rode up and said he with it some of the wild grass and foliage, had been tracking them for the last hour. and showing in itself charming forms and

“ Have you anything to tell us of my colors, was marked by the growth, at its bairn?” asked poor Sandy.

extremity, of a gigantic silk-cotton-tree, “Only this, sir, that Mammy Cis bade the straight stem of which measured its me follow


and you must go to height against the opposite precipice, and the silk-cotton-tree in Broadrent Gully.” was hardly surpassed. When the waters

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

say that

« VorigeDoorgaan »