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TIDY'S WAY TO FREEDOM (chapter4)

2006-09-08 21:20

    CHAPTER IV.

    SEVERAL EVENTS.

    SHALL I pause here in my narrative to tell you what became of Annie and some of the other persons who have been mentioned in the preceding chapters?

    Tidy often saw her mother. Miss Lee used to visit Mr. Carroll's family, and never went without taking Tidy, that the child and her mother might have a good time together. And good times indeed they were.

    When Annie learned that her baby had been taken to Rosevale, that she was so well cared for, and that they would be able sometimes to see one another, her grief was very much abated, and she began to think in what new ways she could show her love for her little one. She saved all the money she could get; and, as she had opportunity, she would buy a bit of gay calico, to make the child a frock or an apron. Mothers, you perceive, are all alike, from the days of Hannah, who made a "little coat" for her son Samuel, and "brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to the yearly sacrifice," down to the present time. Nothing pleases them more than to provide things useful and pretty for their little ones. Even this slave-mother, with her scanty means, felt this same longing. It did her heart good to be doing something for her child; and so she was constantly planning and preparing for these visits, that she might never be without something new and gratifying to give her. In the warm days of summer, she would take her down to Sweet-Brier Pond, a pretty pool of water right in the heart of a sweet pine grove, a little way from the house, and Tidy would have a good splashing frolic in the water, and come out looking as bright and shining as a newly-polished piece of mahogany. Her mother would press the water from her dripping locks, and turn the soft, glossy hair in short, smooth curls over her fingers, put on the new frock, and then set her out before her admiring eyes, and exclaim in her fond motherly pride,-

    "You's a purty cretur, honey. You dun know noffin how yer mudder lubs ye."

    Tidy remembers to this day the delightful afternoon thus spent the very last time she went to see her mother, though neither of them then thought it was to be the last. Mr. Carroll, Annie's master, was very close in all his business transactions, never allowing, as he remarked, his left hand to know what his right hand did. He stole Tidy away, as we have already told you, from her mother; and this was the way he usually managed in parting his slaves, especially any that were much valued. He said it was "a

    part of his religion to deal TENDERLY with his people!"

    "'Tis a great deal better," said he, "to avoid a row. They would moan and wail and make such a fuss, if they knew they were to change quarters."

    Humane man, wasn't he?

    Mr. Carroll got into debt, and an opportunity occurring, he sold Annie and her four boys. The bargain was made without the knowledge of any one on the estate; and in the night they were transferred to their new master. Nobody ever knew to what part of the country they were carried.

    When the news reached the ear of Marcia, Annie's mother, it proved to be more than she could bear. Her very last comfort was thus torn from her. When she was told of it, the poor, decrepit old woman fell from her chair upon the floor of her cabin insensible. The people lifted her up and laid her upon the bed, but she never came to consciousness. She lay without sense or motion until the next day, when she died. The slaves said, "Old Marcia's heart broke."

    Thus little Tidy was left alone in the world, without a single relative to love her. Didn't she care much about it? That happened thirty years ago, and she can not speak of it even now without tears. But she comforts herself by saying, "I shall meet them in heaven." Annie may not yet have arrived at that blessed home; but Marcia has rejoiced all these years in the presence of the Lord she loved, and has found, by a glad experience, that the happiness of heaven can compensate for all the trials of earth.

    "For God has marked each sorrowing day, And numbered every secret tear; And heaven's long age of bliss shall pay For all his children suffer here."

    And now I must tell you of another death which occurred about this same time. It was that of Colonel Lee. He had been a rich and a proud man, and it would seem, that, like the rich man in the parable, he had had all his good things in this life; and now that he had come to the gates of death, he found himself in a sadly destitute and lamentable condition. He was afraid to die; and when he came to the very last, his shrieks of terror and distress were fearful. His mind was wandering, and he fancied some strong being was binding him with chains and shackles. He screamed for help, and even called for Rosa, his faithful old servant, to come and help him.

    "Take off those hand-cuffs," he cried; "take them off. I can not bear them. Don't let them put on those chains. Oh, I can't move! They'll drag me away! Stop them; help me! save me!"

    But, alas! no one could save him. The man who had all his life been loading his fellow-creatures with chains and fetters was now in the grasp of One mightier than he, who was "delivering him over into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto the judgment."

    How dreadful was such an end!

    "I would rather be a slave with all my sorrows," said Tidy, when she related this sad story, "and wait for comfort until I get to heaven, than to have all the riches of all the slaveholders in the world, gained by injustice and oppression; for I could only carry them as far as the grave, and there they would be an awful weight to drag me down into torments for ever."

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