Harriet Wilson


Neath the billows of the ocean, Hidden treasures wait the hand,
That again to light shall raise them
With the diver's magic wand.

THE family, gathered by James' decease, re-
turned to their homes. Susan and Charles
returned to Baltimore. Letters were received
from the absent, expressing their sympathy
and grief. The father bowed like a "bruised
reed," under the loss of his beloved son. He
felt desirous to die the death of the righteous;
also, conscious that he was unprepared, he
resolved to start on the narrow way, and some
time solicit entrance through the gate which
leads to the celestial city. He acknowledged his
too ready acquiescence with Mrs. B., in permit-
ting Frado to be deprived of her only religious
privileges for weeks together. He accordingly


asked his sister to take her to meeting once
more, which she was ready at once to do.
The first opportunity they once more at-
tended meeting together. The minister con-
versed faithfully with every person present.
He was surprised to find the little colored girl
so solicitous, and kindly directed her to the
flowing fountain where she might wash and
be clean. He inquired of the origin of her
anxiety, of her progress up to this time, and
endeavored to make Christ, instead of James,
the attraction of Heaven. He invited her to
come to his house, to speak freely her mind
to him, to pray much, to read her Bible often.
The neighbors, who were at meeting,--among
them Mrs. Reed,--discussed the opinions Mrs.
Bellmont would express on the subject. Mrs.
Reed called and informed Mrs. B. that her col-
ored girl "related her experience the other
night at the meeting."

"What experience?" asked she, quickly, as
if she expected to hear the number of times
she had whipped Frado, and the number of
lashes set forth in plain Arabic numbers.


"Why, you know she is serious, don't you?
She told the minister about it."

Mrs. B. made no reply, but changed the
subject adroitly. Next morning she told Frado
she "should not go out of the house for one
while, except on errands; and if she did not
stop trying to be religious, she would whip
her to death."

Frado pondered; her mistress was a professor
of religion; was she going to heaven? then she
did not wish to go. If she should be near James,
even, she could not be happy with those fiery
eyes watching her ascending path. She resolved
to give over all thought of the future world,
and strove daily to put her anxiety far from

Mr. Bellmont found himself unable to do what
James or Jack could accomplish for her. He
talked with her seriously, told her he had seen
her many times punished undeservedly; he did
not wish to have her saucy or disrespectful, but
when she was sure she did not deserve a whip-
ping, to avoid it if she could. "You are look-
ing sick," he added, "you cannot endure beating
as you once could."


It was not long before an opportunity offered
of profiting by his advice. She was sent for
wood, and not returning as soon as Mrs. B. cal-
culated, she followed her, and, snatching from
the pile a stick, raised it over her.

"Stop!" shouted Frado, "strike me, and I'll
never work a mite more for you;" and throw-
ing down what she had gathered, stood like one
who feels the stirring of free and independent

By this unexpected demonstration, her mis-
tress, in amazement, dropped her weapon, desist-
ing from her purpose of chastisement. Frado
walked towards the house, her mistress following
with the wood she herself was sent after. She
did not know, before, that she had a power to
ward off assaults. Her triumph in seeing her
enter the door with her burden, repaid her for
much of her former suffering.

It was characteristic of Mrs. B. never to rise
in her majesty, unless she was sure she should
be victorious.

This affair never met with an "after clap," like
many others.

Thus passed a year. The usual amount of


scolding, but fewer whippings. Mrs. B. longed
once more for Mary's return, who had been
absent over a year; and she wrote imperatively
for her to come quickly to her. A letter came
in reply, announcing that she would comply as
soon as she was sufficiently recovered from an
illness which detained her.

No serious apprehensions were cherished by
either parent, who constantly looked for notice
of her arrival, by mail. Another letter brought
tidings that Mary was seriously ill; her mother's
presence was solicited.

She started without delay. Before she reached
her destination, a letter came to the parents
announcing her death.
No sooner was the astounding news received,
than Frado rushed into Aunt Abby's, exclaim-
"She's dead, Aunt Abby!"

"Who?" she asked, terrified by the unpre-
faced announcement.

"Mary; they've just had a letter."

As Mrs. B. was away, the brother and sister
could freely sympathize, and she sought him in
this fresh sorrow, to communicate such solace as


she could, and to learn particulars of Mary's
untimely death, and assist him in his journey
It seemed a thanksgiving to Frado. Every
hour or two she would pop in into Aunt Abby's
room with some strange query:

"She got into the river again, Aunt Abby,
didn't she; the Jordan is a big one to tumble into,
any how. S'posen she goes to hell, she'll be as
black as I am. Wouldn't mistress be mad to see
her a nigger!" and others of a similar stamp,
not at all acceptable to the pious, sympathetic
dame; but she could not evade them.

The family returned from their sorrowful
journey, leaving the dead behind. Nig looked
for a change in her tyrant; what could subdue
her, if the loss of her idol could not?

Never was Mrs. B. known to shed tears so pro-
fusely, as when she reiterated to one and another
the sad particulars of her darling's sickness and
death. There was, indeed, a season of quiet
grief; it was the lull of the fiery elements. A
few weeks revived the former tempests, and so
at variance did they seem with chastisement
sanctified, that Frado felt them to be unbear-


able. She determined to flee. But where?
Who would take her? Mrs. B. had always repre-
sented her ugly. Perhaps every one thought
her so. Then no one would take her. She was
black, no one would love her. She might have
to return, and then she would be more in her
mistress' power than ever.

She remembered her victory at the wood-pile.
She decided to remain to do as well as she could;
to assert her rights when they were trampled
on; to return once more to her meeting in
the evening, which had been prohibited. She
had learned how to conquer; she would not
abuse the power while Mr. Bellmont was at

But had she not better run away? Where?
She had never been from the place far enough
to decide what course to take. She resolved to
speak to Aunt Abby. She mapped the dangers
of her course, her liability to fail in finding so
good friends as John and herself. Frado's mind
was busy for days and nights. She contem-
plated administering poison to her mistress, to
rid herself and the house of so detestable a


But she was restrained by an overruling Prov-
idence; and finally decided to stay contentedly
through her period of service, which would ex-
pire when she was eighteen years of age.
In a few months Jane returned home with her
family, to relieve her parents, upon whom years
and affliction had left the marks of age. The
years intervening since she had left her home,
had, in some degree, softened the opposition to
her unsanctioned marriage with George. The
more Mrs. B. had about her, the more ener-
getic seemed her directing capabilities, and her
fault-finding propensities. Her own, she had full
power over; and Jane after vain endeavors, be-
came disgusted, weary, and perplexed, and de-
cided that, though her mother might suffer, she
could not endure her home. They followed Jack
to the West. Thus vanished all hopes of sym-
pathy or relief from this source to Frado. There
seemed no one capable of enduring the oppres-
sions of the house but her. She turned to the
darkness of the future with the determination
previously formed, to remain until she should be
eighteen. Jane begged her to follow her so


soon as she should be released; but so wearied
out was she by her mistress, she felt disposed to
flee from any and every one having her simili-
tude of name or feature.