Harriet Wilson


We have now
But a small portion of what men call time,
To hold communion.

SPRING opened, and James, instead of rallying,
as was hoped, grew worse daily. Aunt Abby
and Frado were the constant allies of Susan.
Mrs. Bellmont dared not lift him. She was not
"strong enough," she said.

It was very offensive to Mrs. B. to have Nab
about James so much. She had thrown out
many a hint to detain her from so often visiting
the sick-room; but Aunt Abby was too well
accustomed to her ways to mind them. After
various unsuccessful efforts, she resorted to the
following expedient. As she heard her cross
the entry below, to ascend the stairs, she slipped
out and held the latch of the door which led
into the upper entry.

"James does not want to see you, or any one
else," she said.


Aunt Abby hesitated, and returned slowly to
her own room; wondering if it were really
James' wish not to see her. She did not ven-
ture again that day, but still felt disturbed and
anxious about him. She inquired of Frado, and
learned that he was no worse. She asked her if
James did not wish her to come and see him;
what could it mean?

Quite late next morning, Susan came to see
what had become of her aunt.

"Your mother said James did not wish to see
me, and I was afraid I tired him."

"Why, aunt, that is a mistake, I know. What
could mother mean?" asked Susan.
The next time she went to the sitting-room
she asked her mother,--

"Why does not Aunt Abby visit James as she
has done? Where is she?"

"At home. I hope that she will stay there,"
was the answer.

"I should think she would come in and see
James," continued Susan.

"I told her he did not want to see her, and to stay
out. You need make no stir about it; remem-
ber:" she added, with one of her fiery glances.


Susan kept silence. It was a day or two
before James spoke of her absence. The family
were at dinner, and Frado was watching beside
him. He inquired the cause of her absence,
and she told him all. After the family returned
he sent his wife for her. When she entered, he
took her hand, and said, "Come to me often,
Aunt. Come any time,--I am always glad to
see you. I have but a little longer to be with
you,--come often, Aunt. Now please help lift
me up, and see if I can rest a little."

Frado was called in, and Susan and Mrs. B. all
attempted; Mrs. B. was too weak; she did not
feel able to lift so much. So the three suc-
ceeded in relieving the sufferer.

Frado returned to her work. Mrs. B. fol-
lowed. Seizing Frado, she said she would "cure
her of tale-bearing," and, placing the wedge of
wood between her teeth, she beat her cruelly
with the raw-hide. Aunt Abby heard the blows,
and came to see if she could hinder them.
Surprised at her sudden appearance, Mrs. B.
suddenly stopped, but forbade her removing the
wood till she gave her permission, and com-
manded Nab to go home.


She was thus tortured when Mr. Bellmont
came in, and, making inquiries which she did
not, because she could not, answer, approached
her; and seeing her situation, quickly removed
the instrument of torture, and sought his wife.
Their conversation we will omit; suffice it to
say, a storm raged which required many days to
exhaust its strength.

Frado was becoming seriously ill. She had
no relish for food, and was constantly over-
worked, and then she had such solicitude about
the future. She wished to pray for pardon.
She did try to pray. Her mistress had told her
it would "do no good for her to attempt prayer;
prayer was for whites, not for blacks. If she
minded her mistress, and did what she com-
manded, it was all that was required of her."
This did not satisfy her, or appease her long-
ings. She knew her instructions did not har-
monize with those of the man of God or Aunt
Abby's. She resolved to persevere. She said
nothing on the subject, unless asked. It was
evident to all her mind was deeply exercised.
James longed to speak with her alone on the
subject. An opportunity presented soon, while


the family were at tea. It was usual to sum-
mon Aunt Abby to keep company with her, as
his death was expected hourly.

As she took her accustomed seat, he asked,
"Are you afraid to stay with me alone, Frado?"
"No," she replied, and stepped to the window
to conceal her emotion.

"Come here, and sit by me; I wish to talk
with you."

She approached him, and, taking her hand, he

"How poor you are, Frado! I want to tell
you that I fear I shall never be able to talk with
you again. It is the last time, perhaps, I shall
ever talk with you. You are old enough to
remember my dying words and profit by them.
I have been sick a long time; I shall die pretty
soon. My Heavenly Father is calling me home.
Had it been his will to let me live I should take
you to live with me; but, as it is, I shall go and
leave you. But, Frado, if you will be a good
girl, and love and serve God, it will be but a
short time before we are in a heavenly home to-
gether. There will never be any sickness or
sorrow there."


Frado, overcome with grief, sobbed, and buried
her face in his pillow. She expected he would
die; but to hear him speak of his departure him-
self was unexpected.

"Bid me good bye, Frado."

She kissed him, and sank on her knees by
his bedside; his hand rested on her head; his
eyes were closed; his lips moved in prayer
for this disconsolate child.

His wife entered, and interpreting the scene,
gave him some restoratives, and withdrew for
a short time.

It was a great effort for Frado to cease
sobbing; but she dared not be seen below in
tears; so she choked her grief, and descended
to her usual toil. Susan perceived a change
in her husband. She felt that death was near.
He tenderly looked on her, and said, "Susan,
my wife, our farewells are all spoken. I feel
prepared to go. I shall meet you in heaven.
Death is indeed creeping fast upon me. Let
me see them all once more. Teach Charlie
the way to heaven; lead him up as you come."
The family all assembled. He could not
talk as he wished to them. He seemed to


sink into unconsciousness. They watched him
for hours. He had labored hard for breath
some time, when he seemed to awake sud-
denly, and exclaimed, "Hark! do you hear

"Hear what, my son?" asked the father.

"Their call. Look, look, at the shining
ones! Oh, let me go and be at rest!"
As if waiting for this petition, the Angel of
Death severed the golden thread, and he was
in heaven. At midnight the messenger came.
They called Frado to see his last struggle.
Sinking on her knees at the foot of his bed,
she buried her face in the clothes, and wept
like one inconsolable. They led her from the
room. She seemed to be too much absorbed
to know it was necessary for her to leave.
Next day she would steal into the chamber
as often as she could, to weep over his remains,
and ponder his last words to her. She moved
about the house like an automaton. Every
duty performed--but an abstraction from all,
which shewed her thoughts were busied else-
where. Susan wished her to attend his burial
as one of the family. Lewis and Mary and


Jack it was not thought best to send for, as
the season would not allow them time for the
journey. Susan provided her with a dress for
the occasion, which was her first intimation
that she would be allowed to mingle her grief
with others.

The day of the burial she was attired in
her mourning dress; but Susan, in her grief,
had forgotten a bonnet.

She hastily ransacked the closets, and found
one of Mary's, trimmed with bright pink ribbon.
It was too late to change the ribbon, and
she was unwilling to leave Frado at home;
she knew it would be the wish of James she
should go with her. So tying it on, she said,
"Never mind, Frado, you shall see where our
dear James is buried." As she passed out, she
heard the whispers of the by-standers, "Look
there! see there! how that looks,--a black
dress and a pink ribbon!"

Another time, such remarks would have
wounded Frado. She had now a sorrow with
which such were small in comparison.

As she saw his body lowered in the grave
she wished to share it; but she was not fit to


die. She could not go where he was if she
did. She did not love God; she did not serve
him or know how to.

She retired at night to mourn over her
unfitness for heaven, and gaze out upon the
stars, which, she felt, studded the entrance of
heaven, above which James reposed in the
bosom of Jesus, to which her desires were has-
tening. She wished she could see God, and
ask him for eternal life. Aunt Abby had taught
her that He was ever looking upon her. Oh,
if she could see him, or hear him speak words
of forgiveness. Her anxiety increased; her
health seemed impaired, and she felt constrained
to go to Aunt Abby and tell her all about her

She received her like a returning wanderer;
seriously urged her to accept of Christ; ex-
plained the way; read to her from the Bible,
and remarked upon such passages as applied
to her state. She warned her against stifling
that voice which was calling her to heaven;
echoed the farewell words of James, and told
her to come to her with her difficulties, and


not to delay a duty so important as attention
to the truths of religion, and her soul's interests.
Mrs. Bellmont would occasionally give in-
struction, though far different. She would tell
her she could not go where James was; she
need not try. If she should get to heaven at
all, she would never be as high up as he.
He was the attraction. Should she "want
to go there if she could not see him?"

Mrs. B. seldom mentioned her bereavement,
unless in such allusion to Frado. She donned
her weeds from custom; kept close her crape
veil for so many Sabbaths, and abated nothing
of her characteristic harshness.

The clergyman called to minister consolation
to the afflicted widow and mother. Aunt Abby
seeing him approach the dwelling, knew at once
the object of his visit, and followed him to the
parlor, unasked by Mrs. B! What a daring
affront! The good man dispensed the conso-
lations, of which he was steward, to the appar-
ently grief-smitten mother, who talked like one
schooled in a heavenly atmosphere. Such resig-
nation expressed, as might have graced the trial
of the holiest. Susan, like a mute sufferer,


bared her soul to his sympathy and godly
counsel, but only replied to his questions in
short syllables. When he offered prayer, Frado
stole to the door that she might hear of the
heavenly bliss of one who was her friend on
earth. The prayer caused profuse weeping, as
any tender reminder of the heaven-born was
sure to. When the good man's voice ceased,
she returned to her toil, carefully removing all
trace of sorrow. Her mistress soon followed,
irritated by Nab's impudence in presenting her-
self unasked in the parlor, and upbraided her
with indolence, and bade her apply herself more
diligently. Stung by unmerited rebuke, weak
from sorrow and anxiety, the tears rolled down
her dark face, soon followed by sobs, and then
losing all control of herself, she wept aloud.
This was an act of disobedience. Her mistress
grasping her raw-hide, caused a longer flow of
tears, and wounded a spirit that was craving
healing mercies.