Harriet Wilson


"Hours of my youth! when nurtured in my breast,
To love a stranger, friendship made me blest:--
Friendship, the dear peculiar bond of youth,
When every artless bosom throbs with truth;
Untaught by worldly wisdom how to feign;
And check each impulse with prudential reign;
When all we feel our honest souls disclose--
In love to friends, in open hate to foes;
No varnished tales the lips of youth repeat,
No dear-bought knowledge purchased by deceit."

WITH what differing emotions have the deni-
zens of earth awaited the approach of to-day.
Some sufferer has counted the vibrations of the
pendulum impatient for its dawn, who, now that
it has arrived, is anxious for its close. The vo-
tary of pleasure, conscious of yesterday's void,
wishes for power to arrest time's haste till a few
more hours of mirth shall be enjoyed. The un-
fortunate are yet gazing in vain for golden-
edged clouds they fancied would appear in their
horizon. The good man feels that he has accom-


plished too little for the Master, and sighs that
another day must so soon close. Innocent child-
hood, weary of its stay, longs for another mor-
row; busy manhood cries, hold! hold! and pur-
sues it to another's dawn. All are dissatisfied.
All crave some good not yet possessed, which
time is expected to bring with all its morrows.
Was it strange that, to a disconsolate child,
three years should seem a long, long time?
During school time she had rest from Mrs. Bell-
mont's tyranny. She was now nine years old;
time, her mistress said, such privileges should

She could now read and spell, and knew the
elementary steps in grammar, arithmetic, and
writing. Her education completed, as she said, Mrs.
Bellmont felt that her time and person belonged
solely to her. She was under her in every sense
of the word. What an opportunity to indulge
her vixen nature! No matter what occurred to
ruffle her, or from what source provocation came,
real or fancied, a few blows on Nig seemed to
relieve her of a portion of ill-will.

These were days when Fido was the entire
confidant of Frado. She told him her griefs as


though he were human; and he sat so still, and
listened so attentively, she really believed he
knew her sorrows. All the leisure moments she
could gain were used in teaching him some feat
of dog-agility, so that Jack pronounced him
very knowing, and was truly gratified to know
he had furnished her with a gift answering his

Fido was the constant attendant of Frado,
when sent from the house on errands, going and
returning with the cows, out in the fields, to the
village. If ever she forgot her hardships it was
in his company.

Spring was now retiring. James, one of the
absent sons, was expected home on a visit. He
had never seen the last acquisition to the family.
Jack had written faithfully of all the merits of
his colored protege, and hinted plainly that
mother did not always treat her just right.
Many were the preparations to make the visit
pleasant, and as the day approached when he
was to arrive, great exertions were made to
cook the favorite viands, to prepare the choicest

The morning of the arrival day was a busy


one. Frado knew not who would be of so much
importance; her feet were speeding hither and
thither so unsparingly. Mrs. Bellmont seemed
a trifle fatigued, and her shoes which had, early
in the morning, a methodic squeak, altered to an
irregular, peevish snap.

"Get some little wood to make the fire burn,"
said Mrs. Bellmont, in a sharp tone. Frado
obeyed, bringing the smallest she could find.
Mrs. Bellmont approached her, and, giving her
a box on her ear, reiterated the command.
The first the child brought was the smallest to
be found; of course, the second must be a trifle
larger. She well knew it was, as she threw it
into a box on the hearth. To Mrs. Bellmont
it was a greater affront, as well as larger wood,
so she "taught her" with the raw-hide, and sent
her the third time for "little wood."

Nig, weeping, knew not what to do. She
had carried the smallest; none left would suit
her mistress; of course further punishment await-
ed her; so she gathered up whatever came first,
and threw it down on the hearth. As she ex-
pected, Mrs. Bellmont, enraged, approached her,
and kicked her so forcibly as to throw her upon


the floor. Before she could rise, another foiled
the attempt, and then followed kick after kick in
quick succession and power, till she reached the
door. Mr. Bellmont and Aunt Abby, hearing the
noise, rushed in, just in time to see the last of
the performance. Nig jumped up, and rushed
from the house, out of sight.

Aunt Abby returned to her apartment, fol-
lowed by John, who was muttering to himself.
"What were you saying?" asked Aunt Abby.

"I said I hoped the child never would come
into the house again."

"What would become of her? You cannot
mean that," continued his sister.

"I do mean it. The child does as much work
as a woman ought to; and just see how she is
kicked about!"

"Why do you have it so, John?" asked his

"How am I to help it? Women rule the
earth, and all in it."

"I think I should rule my own house, John,"--

"And live in hell meantime," added Mr.


John now sauntered out to the barn to await
the quieting of the storm.

Aunt Abby had a glimpse of Nig as she
passed out of the yard; but to arrest her, or
shew her that she would shelter her, in Mrs.
Bellmont's presence, would only bring reserved
wrath on her defenceless head. Her sister-in-
law had great prejudices against her. One
cause of the alienation was that she did not
give her right in the homestead to John, and
leave it forever; another was that she was a
professor of religion, (so was Mrs. Bellmont;)
but Nab, as she called her, did not live accord-
ing to her profession; another, that she would
sometimes give Nig cake and pie, which she was
never allowed to have at home. Mary had
often noticed and spoken of her inconsistencies.
The dinner hour passed. Frado had not ap-
peared. Mrs. B. made no inquiry or search.
Aunt Abby looked long, and found her con-
cealed in an outbuilding. "Come into the
house with me," implored Aunt Abby.
"I ain't going in any more," sobbed the

"What will you do?" asked Aunt Abby.


"I've got to stay out here and die. I ha'n't
got no mother, no home. I wish I was dead."

"Poor thing," muttered Aunt Abby; and
slyly providing her with some dinner, left her
to her grief.

Jane went to confer with her Aunt about the
affair; and learned from her the retreat. She
would gladly have concealed her in her own
chamber, and ministered to her wants; but she
was dependent on Mary and her mother for
care, and any displeasure caused by attention to
Nig, was seriously felt.

Toward night the coach brought James. A
time of general greeting, inquiries for absent
members of the family, a visit to Aunt Abby's
room, undoing a few delicacies for Jane, brought
them to the tea hour.

"Where's Frado?" asked Mr. Bellmont, ob-
serving she was not in her usual place, behind
her mistress' chair.

"I don't know, and I don't care. If she
makes her appearance again, I'll take the skin
from her body," replied his wife.

James, a fine looking young man, with a
pleasant countenance, placid, and yet decidedly


serious, yet not stern, looked up confounded.
He was no stranger to his mother's nature; but
years of absence had erased the occurrences
once so familiar, and he asked, "Is this that
pretty little Nig, Jack writes to me about, that
you are so severe upon, mother?"

"I'll not leave much of her beauty to be
seen, if she comes in sight; and now, John,"
said Mrs. B., turning to her husband, "you need
not think you are going to learn her to treat me
in this way; just see how saucy she was this
morning. She shall learn her place."

Mr. Bellmont raised his calm, determined eye
full upon her, and said, in a decisive manner:
"You shall not strike, or scald, or skin her, as you
call it, if she comes back again. Remember!"
and he brought his hand down upon the table.
"I have searched an hour for her now, and she
is not to be found on the premises. Do you
know where she is? Is she your prisoner?"

"No! I have just told you I did not know
where she was. Nab has her hid somewhere, I
suppose. Oh, dear! I did not think it would
come to this; that my own husband would treat
me so." Then came fast flowing tears, which no


one but Mary seemed to notice. Jane crept
into Aunt Abby's room; Mr. Bellmont and
James went out of doors, and Mary remained to
condole with her parent.

"Do you know where Frado is?" asked Jane
of her aunt.

"No," she replied. "I have hunted every-
where. She has left her first hiding-place. I
cannot think what has become of her. There
comes Jack and Fido; perhaps he knows;" and
she walked to a window near, where James and
his father were conversing together.

The two brothers exchanged a hearty greet-
ing, and then Mr. Bellmont told Jack to eat his
supper; afterward he wished to send him away.
He immediately went in. Accustomed to all
the phases of indoor storms, from a whine to
thunder and lightning, he saw at a glance marks
of disturbance. He had been absent through
the day, with the hired men.

"What's the fuss?" asked he, rushing into
Aunt Abby's.

"Eat your supper," said Jane; "go home,


Back again through the dining-room, and out
to his father.

"What's the fuss?" again inquired he of his

"Eat your supper, Jack, and see if you can
find Frado. She's not been seen since morning,
and then she was kicked out of the house."
"I shan't eat my supper till I find her," said
Jack, indignantly. "Come, James, and see the
little creature mother treats so."

They started, calling, searching, coaxing, all
their way along. No Frado. They returned to
the house to consult. James and Jack declared
they would not sleep till she was found.
Mrs. Bellmont attempted to dissuade them
from the search. "It was a shame a little nigger
should make so much trouble."

Just then Fido came running up, and Jack
exclaimed, "Fido knows where she is, I'll bet."
"So I believe," said his father; "but we shall
not be wiser unless we can outwit him. He will
not do what his mistress forbids him."

"I know how to fix him," said Jack. Taking
a plate from the table, which was still waiting,
he called, "Fido! Fido! Frado wants some sup-


per. Come!" Jack started, the dog followed,
and soon capered on before, far, far into the
fields, over walls and through fences, into a
piece of swampy land. Jack followed close, and
soon appeared to James, who was quite in the
rear, coaxing and forcing Frado along with him.
A frail child, driven from shelter by the cru-
elty of his mother, was an object of interest to
James. They persuaded her to go home with
them, warmed her by the kitchen fire, gave her
a good supper, and took her with them into the

"Take that nigger out of my sight," was Mrs.
Bellmont's command, before they could be

James led her into Aunt Abby's, where he
knew they were welcome. They chatted awhile
until Frado seemed cheerful; then James led
her to her room, and waited until she retired.

"Are you glad I've come home?" asked

"Yes; if you won't let me be whipped to-

"You won't be whipped. You must try to
be a good girl," counselled James.


"If I do, I get whipped," sobbed the child.
"They won't believe what I say. Oh, I wish I
had my mother back; then I should not be
kicked and whipped so. Who made me so?"

"God," answered James.

"Did God make you?"


"Who made Aunt Abby?"


"Who made your mother?"


"Did the same God that made her make


"Well, then, I don't like him."

"Why not?"

"Because he made her white, and me black.
Why didn't he make us both white?"

"I don't know; try to go to sleep, and you
will feel better in the morning," was all the re-
ply he could make to her knotty queries. It
was a long time before she fell asleep; and a
number of days before James felt in a mood to
visit and entertain old associates and friends.