edsanders.com - Charles Stewart - My Life as a Slave" - Part 2

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History Index.

Click here for part 1

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    Wa'al, dar I was married, an' I mought jes' as well espress my disappintment fust as last. Treatment makes all de respex dat can happen responseful in de world, but a woman ought to tell some of de trufe once a day, ef it's only to limber up her tongue. It was a good while fust hero' I foun' out what make all Betsey's promises an' arnsers all de time fallin' flatter and flatter, like bad dough or mean pie-crust, but when I seed how 'twas, I jes' sets to wuk to see ef I could cure her. I tried 'suasion an' finery, birch rods split fine, an' a light hickory stick 'bout as thick as my littlest finger, an' I tried makin' her kin an' my kin dat had religion pray fur her at de big camp-meetin'. But it warn't no use. She had three likely arrs, 'bout a year betwixt 'em, an' I neber had but dat one fault to find wid her; she cooked as good biskits, hoe-cake, bacon fry, hominy mush, an' coffee as any gal I seed; den, moreober, she could iron an' wash my shirts, an' keep things a-goin' right smart; but she couldn't seem to tell de trufe to save her life, an' it got to be so'dat I jes' made my mind up to 'vorce her as quick as eber I could. In course an' sartinly I couldn't be out o' pocket for no sech a hussy as she was; an' den de question was wedder it was wuf while to keep de arrs an' raise 'em; but I says, "No, she must ha' come of a bad breed, an' a colt is mos' apt to take after de dam, anyhow; I better git shet of de whole gang of 'em, an' try a new cross." Dar was a horse-dealer t'other side o' Petersburg by de name of Jones, what had de finest nag I had seen in a year fursale at jes' debery price l paid fur Betsey. De horse was named Brown Jim, an' he was wuf de money, I tell you; so I jes' says to Major Puckett dat he could have Betsey back at de same price I paid fur her, an' lowin' fur de war an' tar of de four year I had done kep' her, I-would throw de boys into de bargain. Wa'al, I neber was sorry fur dat 'vorcement, nohow, an' dat autumn de Colonel sarnt me out to Kentucky, what I had Monsieur Tonson and Medley, 'sides Black Elk, Glenroe, Leviathan, an' yothers.

    Our head-quarters was in Paris, Kentucky, an' I staid dar a long time, an' was jes' as happy as a king. In de spring an' fall of de year I would take de horses 'bout fum place to place, en 'cordacte wid marster's orders, an' I was jes' as free an' independent as any gen'leman en de land. I had my helpers an' jockeys, grooms an' stablemen, under me, nobody was ober me, an' de squire or de jedge was always somewhar 'bout to read marster's letters to me. I neber had no book-larnin' myself, kase I neber was willin', fur I knowed my brain was too smart for to stand it. When anybody has got as much sense en de head as I had, dey must take great keer not to be foolin' round tryin' to stuff more en, or de fust thing dey'll bust it open. I lef' all dat fur folks dat wanted fillin' up an' patchin' on to. Yes, I was mighty happy at Paris an' at Bowling Green, whar I staid jes' about de same, 'vidin' my time 'cordin' to de horses. Dar was a heap o' rich gen'lemen all through dat country. Dar was Squire Oglen, what Monsieur Tonson stood some time, an' was showed in the State Fair, wid me standin' alongside, an' we tuk de prizes of three fifty-dollar tankards. Ole Henry Clay was always aroun', an' mighty peart an' perlite de ole man was, too, an' knowed a horse when he seed him, I tell you. His son, Henry Clay junior, dey called him, he thought dat much of me he offered Colonel Johnson $3500 fur me himself, but de Colonel he tole him money couldn't buy me; an' he made jes' de bery same arnser to Wade Hampton, what offered him de bery same price. I had a heap of people after me, I tell you, an' some on 'em used to beg me jes' to say so as I wanted to go wid 'em an' leave my ole marster; but I would neber 'gree to dat ar scheme wid any of 'em; I was too well off fur dat, an' I heerd folks say as how "betwixt a twoedged sword you falls to de groun'," all sech sayin's as has sense en 'em. Whilst I was a-livin' at Paris I foun' anoder good reason fur stayin' jes' how I was an' whar I was. I 'come acquainted wid de likeliest-lookin' an' fa'rest-behavin' lightcolored mulatter gal I eber seed in my life. Lord! I tell you dar ain't no sech niggers now as she was! An' dat genteel an' handy, an' sech snappin' black-eyes an' coal-black hyar, like an Injun's, an' pretty slim shape, wid sich a smooth light yaller skin, 'mos' de color of a ripe pumpkin seed. You may sarch dis world ober, 'but as sho as de Lord is de secret Jedge you won't eber find any 'oman as pretty an as good as my little Kentucky sweetheart. Her name was Mary Jane Mallory, an' her owner, Mr. Robertsons tole me to marry her an' welcome, an' he would neber my nothin' to part us. She had a brother dat hired himself out as a locksmith, an' all her folks was nice, pursentable pussons nobody could be shamed by. So I married her, an' tuk her to a little house I had fixed up near de stables, an' she clear-starched an' sewed an' 'broidered an' wukked wid de hand-loom, an' made more pretty things dan I could count. She paid her marster, en course, reg'lar, so much a month fur her hire, but, lor', she neber touched her airnin's fur dat. I had plenty of 'money to hire as many wives as I wanted, but dis one was de onliest one I eber did want, an' so it was easy enough.

    I kin see dat little house now, wid de big white bed, all clean an' sweet an' hung wid ruffled curtains, in one corner, de cupboard full of flowered chaney an' shinin' metal an' glass opposite, an' de bright wood fire, piled up wid hickory an' ash logs, blazin' on de h'arth, an' Mary Jane settin' in front by de candle wid her fine white sewin' an' her pink caliker dress an' slick black hyar, lookin' so kind o' quiet till I speaks to her, an' den you kin see de fire-light a-glimpsin' on her white teeth. Arter a while she had a arr, sech a fine boy it was a picter to see him, an' as smart an' cunnin' as a little 'coon, an' jes' as like his daddy, what was me, you know, as ole rabbit is like a young one. Dis was little Johnny; we named him arter her folks, her daddy an' her brother; an' I kept on a-reckonin' an' thinkin' that arter a while when marster sarnt for me to take Monsieur Tonson an' Medley back home to Virginny I would fetch Mary Jane and Johnny along wid me, an' show 'em to my folks in Petersburg, kase my mummy she was livln' dar, an' so was my brothers an' sisters an' a heap of kin, an' I wanted 'em all to see my wife an' boy. But it was 'bout six months arter Johnny was born, an' I was jest beginnin' to think 'bout buyin' Mary Jane in good arnest, so as to be all ready fur de time to start, when I begin to notice dat she hub got mighty bad-soundin' cough, an' den her mummy says, "Why don't you eat, darter? you don't eat enough." An' den yother folks say, "What make Mary Jane look so poorly an' git so lean?" I was badly skeered, an' I sarnt for de doctor, an' he says she mus' eat a heap an' drink port-wine, an' 'muse herself; so I takes her to see a ole friend at de springs, an' I buys good victuals, an' de gen'lemen, sich as Squire Oglen an' all of 'em, sends her port wine, sin' de doctor gives her qiuinine an' bark an' everything, but none of it was any use; her time was come, her hour for her to go had done been struck in heaven, an' de time was short. It warn't two year after our weddin' when I laid her in her coffin, wid her big eyes shet foreber, an' I neber grieved so ober anybody in all de world. She was jes' as fond o' me as I was of her, an' it did 'pear hard luck to lose her jes' as I was makin' up my mind to buy her out an' out, only en course it was a fortunate thing I hadn't bought her, as long as she had to die, kase den I would ha' lost her an' de money too. Arter she was in de ground it jes' 'peared to me like eberythlng was different; I tuk a dislikemerit to Paris, an' I didn't feel like goin' home to Virginny. It got so after a while dat I got de squire to write home to marster an' tell him I wanted to go to some strange place, an' marster he writ back dat "ef I could find a owner to suit me, dat would pay his price fur me, I could go, dough he had-neber expected to part wid me by sale." It jes' happened 'bout det time dat Jedge Porter fum 'way down en Louisiana was in de Nu-ninted States, an' trabelling aroun' fur pleasure. He was one of de Washington Sennyters, an' was a great jedge (dey said he was a great jedge of de South, an' could make laws like a book, an' I knows he was a great jedge of a horse), so when he come to Bowling Green him an' me got acquainted, an' he says to me dat he was lookin' after a head trainer fur his stables in de South, an' would I like to go wid him ef he would buy me. So I tuk a week or two to consider de mahter, an' him an' me had a heap o' talk, an' de more I thinks to myself 'bout stayin' in Kentucky widout Mary Jane, de more I says to myself dat' I can't on no 'count do it.

    De eend of de mahter was I tuk sech a likin' to de Jedge dat we fixed it up disaway: I was to go an' stay six months to see how I liked it, an' den, ef I didn't like it, he promised to send me back home, an' ef I did like it, he would pay Colonel Johnson $3500 fur me. Dat's what I sole for when I was young, an' I bet dar ain't many folks wuf 'dat 'mount o' money Norf or South. After dis bargain was made, I went out to Mr. Robertson's, whar my little Johnny was wid his grandmammy; an' Miss Mary Robertson she had jes' tuk sech a likin' to de little feller dat she had him roun' de house harf de time; an' now when I went up to, de house wid Motherin-law Mallory, what was totin' him in her arms, he reached out his two little fisses to her as quick as he seed her a-settin' on de piazzy. I tole her an' Mr. Robertson all 'bout my new prospex, an' when I was done, de ole gen'leman stretched ober an' picked Johnny up, an' stood him on de little stool by him, and says, "Well, Stewart, I see what you want is dis little man, an' you shall hab him for $150, an' not one penny more." I tell you I was pleased, sho enough, an' I paid de money, an' got de receipt, an' we toted Johnny in to Bowling Green dat bery day. You see, de reason why I neber bought him befo' was dat I had to leave him wid his grandmammy. An' some folks is so cur'ous dat I wa'n't sho dey would let a free nigger, or rader a nigger dat belonged to his own daddy, stay on de place; so Mary Jane's sister she offered to keep him fur me till I could send fur him, kase en course I couldn't trabel wid a baby like dat; but I 'lowed to send fur him jes' as soon as I could git settled. An' de eend of de mahter was I lef' him; an' I ain't neber seed dat chile sence. Wa'al, my new marster an' me we started off for Louisiana, an' I 'clar' to Moses I thought we warn't neber goin' to git dar. We was goin' an' goin', en steamboats an' stages, stages an' steamboats, fur weeks an' days, till we come to New Orleans. It warn't as big as New York, but dar was a sight of oranges an' banarnas, an' more oder kinds of fruit dan I could call de names of. But de wust of de place was ef you axed anybody a question dey arnsered you in French, an' you might screech till you was deef befo' dey would let on dat dey knowed what you was talkin' 'bout. I stood dat kind o' nonsense fust-rate rum white folks: ef dey couldn't talk no Christian langwidge, I jes' felt sorry fur 'em: but when it come to a great big fool nigger a-doin' me dat way, I jes' hits him a lick in his ole black jaws dat shets 'em up for dat day. So master an' me we soon left New Orleans, an' come on obor here to de 'Takapas country, what he got sech a big fine plantation, so much of it, so many trees, an' de fields is so broad, an' de lakes is so big, I felt kind o' skeered an' lonesome de fust week. But it didn't take me long to git ober dat feelin' when I seed de race-course, de stables, an' de horses what was ,waitin' fur' me on de Teche.

    It was de prettiest picter of a place, an' as fine a lot of horses as eber I seed togedder, twelve of 'em always. en trainin', wid more brood marrs, outsiders, an' colts dan you could dream 'bout en one night. I had a mighty good large house at de top of de stable yard, an' my bell rung en de oberseer's house, de head helper's, an' de stable; besides, I had a boy to sleep en ebery stall. I was jes' put right at de head of eberything; nobody could say nothin' to me at all. Ef I said I wanted dis, I got it, or must hab dat, I got it too. He was jes' as open-handed an' gin'rous, but he wouldn't stand no foolin' neither, I tell you. Things had to be jes' so, but dar warn't no naggin' nor scoldin'; it was jes' stiddy management.

    Arter my marster, Jedge Porter, died, I belonged to his brother, Mr. James Porter, what done arred [heired] de place an' de niggers, an' ef der eber was a good man walked en shoe-leather, he was one. Dey tells me dat

    "'Twixt de saddle an' de ground
    De sinner hab salvation found ;"
    
    an' en course we all' knows 'bout dat dar horse-thief what our Savior done pardon after he was hung up; but I neber had no 'pinion of dis yere way of jumpin' into heaven ober de fence, 'stid of goin' right 'long by de road an' through de toll-gate, what St. Peter takes de pennies; but dar was none o' dat wild kind of eligion 'bout Mars' Jeames. He was good all through, both outsides an' down de middle, an' him an' me, an', arter he died, his folks an' me, we jes' went on peaceful an' happy till de war come an' rooted ebery blessed thing up by de roots. Click here for part 1
    History Index.
    | AMSOIL | Auto Parts, etc. | Home | Racing | Lancaster, NH | Bookstore | Phonics | Search Engines | Genealogy | Genealogy Sources | Military | Outside Links | File It | History | Maps | Formulas & Recipes |
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    Copyright 1997 by Ed Sanders.