Harriet Wilson


Misery! we have known each other,
Like a sister and a brother,
Living in the same lone home
Many years--we must live some
Hours or ages yet to come.


JIM, proud of his treasure,--a white wife,--
tried hard to fulfil his promises; and furnished
her with a more comfortable dwelling, diet, and
apparel. It was comparatively a comfortable
winter she passed after her marriage. When
Jim could work, all went on well. Industrious,
and fond of Mag, he was determined she should
not regret her union to him. Time levied an
additional charge upon him, in the form of two
pretty mulattos, whose infantile pranks amply
repaid the additional toil. A few years, and a
severe cough and pain in his side compelled him
to be an idler for weeks together, and Mag had


thus a reminder of by-gones. She cared for him
only as a means to subserve her own comfort;
yet she nursed him faithfully and true to mar-
riage vows till death released her. He became
the victim of consumption. He loved Mag to the
last. So long as life continued, he stifled his
sensibility to pain, and toiled for her sustenance
long after he was able to do so.

A few expressive wishes for her welfare; a
hope of better days for her; an anxiety lest
they should not all go to the "good place;"
brief advice about their children; a hope ex-
pressed that Mag would not be neglected as she
used to be; the manifestation of Christian pa-
tience; these were all the legacy of miserable
Mag. A feeling of cold desolation came over
her, as she turned from the grave of one who
had been truly faithful to her.

She was now expelled from companionship
with white people; this last step--her union
with a black--was the climax of repulsion.
Seth Shipley, a partner in Jim's business,
wished her to remain in her present home; but
she declined, and returned to her hovel again,
with obstacles threefold more insurmountable


than before. Seth accompanied her, giving her
a weekly allowance which furnished most of the
food necessary for the four inmates. After a
time, work failed; their means were reduced.
How Mag toiled and suffered, yielding to fits
of desperation, bursts of anger, and uttering
curses too fearful to repeat. When both were
supplied with work, they prospered; if idle, they
were hungry together. In this way their inter-
ests became united; they planned for the future
together. Mag had lived an outcast for years.
She had ceased to feel the gushings of peni-
tence; she had crushed the sharp agonies of an
awakened conscience. She had no longings for
a purer heart, a better life. Far easier to
descend lower. She entered the darkness of
perpetual infamy. She asked not the rite of
civilization or Christianity. Her will made her
the wife of Seth. Soon followed scenes familiar
and trying.

"It's no use," said Seth one day; "we must
give the children away, and try to get work in
some other place."

"Who'll take the black devils?" snarled Mag.


"They're none of mine," said Seth; "what
you growling about?"

"Nobody will want any thing of mine, or
yours either," she replied.

"We'll make 'em, p'r'aps," he said. "There's
Frado's six years old, and pretty, if she is yours,
and white folks'll say so. She'd be a prize
somewhere," he continued, tipping his chair
back against the wall, and placing his feet upon
the rounds, as if he had much more to say when
in the right position.

Frado, as they called one of Mag's children,
was a beautiful mulatto, with long, curly black
hair, and handsome, roguish eyes, sparkling
with an exuberance of spirit almost beyond

Hearing her name mentioned, she looked up
from her play, to see what Seth had to say of

"Wouldn't the Bellmonts take her?" asked

"Bellmonts?" shouted Mag. "His wife is a
right she-devil! and if--"

"Hadn't they better be all together?" inter-


rupted Seth, reminding her of a like epithet
used in reference to her little ones.

Without seeming to notice him, she continued,
"She can't keep a girl in the house over a
week; and Mr. Bellmont wants to hire a boy to
work for him, but he can't find one that will
live in the house with her; she's so ugly, they

"Well, we've got to make a move soon,"
answered Seth; "if you go with me, we shall go
right off. Had you rather spare the other
one?" asked Seth, after a short pause.

"One's as bad as t'other," replied Mag.
"Frado is such a wild, frolicky thing, and means
to do jest as she's a mind to; she won't go if
she don't want to. I don't want to tell her
she is to be given away."

"I will," said Seth. "Come here, Frado?"
The child seemed to have some dim fore-
shadowing of evil, and declined.
"Come here," he continued; "I want to tell
you something."

She came reluctantly. He took her hand and
said: "We're going to move, by-'m-bye; will
you go?"


"No!" screamed she; and giving a sudden
jerk which destroyed Seth's equilibrium, left
him sprawling on the floor, while she escaped
through the open door.

"She's a hard one," said Seth, brushing his
patched coat sleeve. "I'd risk her at Bell-

They discussed the expediency of a speedy
departure. Seth would first seek employment,
and then return for Mag. They would take
with them what they could carry, and leave the
rest with Pete Greene, and come for them when
they were wanted. They were long in arrang-
ing affairs satisfactorily, and were not a little
startled at the close of their conference to find
Frado missing. They thought approaching night
would bring her. Twilight passed into dark-
ness, and she did not come. They thought she
had understood their plans, and had, perhaps,
permanently withdrawn. They could not rest
without making some effort to ascertain her
retreat. Seth went in pursuit, and returned
without her. They rallied others when they dis-
covered that another little colored girl was miss-
ing, a favorite playmate of Frado's. All effort


proved unavailing. Mag felt sure her fears
were realized, and that she might never see her
again. Before her anxieties became realities,
both were safely returned, and from them and
their attendant they learned that they went to
walk, and not minding the direction soon found
themselves lost. They had climbed fences and
walls, passed through thickets and marshes, and
when night approached selected a thick cluster
of shrubbery as a covert for the night. They
were discovered by the person who now restored
them, chatting of their prospects, Frado attempt-
ing to banish the childish fears of her com-
panion. As they were some miles from home,
they were kindly cared for until morning. Mag
was relieved to know her child was not driven
to desperation by their intentions to relieve
themselves of her, and she was inclined to think
severe restraint would be healthful.

The removal was all arranged; the few days
necessary for such migrations passed quickly,
and one bright summer morning they bade fare-
well to their Singleton hovel, and with budgets
and bundles commenced their weary march.
As they neared the village, they heard the


merry shouts of children gathered around the
schoolroom, awaiting the coming of their teacher.
"Halloo!" screamed one, "Black, white and
yeller!" "Black, white and yeller," echoed a
dozen voices.

It did not grate so harshly on poor Mag as
once it would. She did not even turn her head
to look at them. She had passed into an insen-
sibility no childish taunt could penetrate, else
she would have reproached herself as she passed
familiar scenes, for extending the separation
once so easily annihilated by steadfast integrity.
Two miles beyond lived the Bellmonts, in a
large, old fashioned, two-story white house, en-
vironed by fruitful acres, and embellished by
shrubbery and shade trees. Years ago a youth-
ful couple consecrated it as home; and after
many little feet had worn paths to favorite fruit
trees, and over its green hills, and mingled at
last with brother man in the race which belongs
neither to the swift or strong, the sire became
grey-haired and decrepit, and went to his last
repose. His aged consort soon followed him.
The old homestead thus passed into the hands
of a son, to whose wife Mag had applied the


epithet "she-devil," as may be remembered.
John, the son, had not in his family arrange-
ments departed from the example of the father.
The pastimes of his boyhood were ever freshly
revived by witnessing the games of his own sons
as they rallied about the same goal his youthful
feet had often won; as well as by the amuse-
ments of his daughters in their imitations of
maternal duties.

At the time we introduce them, however,
John is wearing the badge of age. Most of his
children were from home; some seeking em-
ployment; some were already settled in homes
of their own. A maiden sister shared with him
the estate on which he resided, and occupied a
portion of the house.

Within sight of the house, Seth seated himself
with his bundles and the child he had been lead-
ing, while Mag walked onward to the house
leading Frado. A knock at the door brought
Mrs. Bellmont, and Mag asked if she would be
willing to let that child stop there while she
went to the Reed's house to wash, and when she
came back she would call and get her. It
seemed a novel request, but she consented.


Why the impetuous child entered the house,
we cannot tell; the door closed, and Mag
hastily departed. Frado waited for the close of
day, which was to bring back her mother. Alas!
it never came. It was the last time she ever
saw or heard of her mother.