Harriet Wilson


"What are our joys but dreams? and what our hopes
But goodly shadows in the summer cloud?"
H. K. W.

JAMES did not improve as was hoped. Month
after month passed away, and brought no pros-
pect of returning health. He could not walk
far from the house for want of strength; but he
loved to sit with Aunt Abby in her quiet room,
talking of unseen glories, and heart-experiences,
while planning for the spiritual benefit of those
around them. In these confidential interviews,
Frado was never omitted. They would discuss
the prevalent opinion of the public, that people
of color are really inferior; incapable of cultiva-
tion and refinement. They would glance at the
qualities of Nig, which promised so much if
rightly directed. "I wish you would take her,
James, when you are well, home with you," said
Aunt Abby, in one of these seasons.


"Just what I am longing to do, Aunt Abby.
Susan is just of my mind, and we intend to take
her; I have been wishing to do so for years."
"She seems much affected by what she hears
at the evening meetings, and asks me many
questions on serious things; seems to love to
read the Bible; I feel hopes of her."

"I hope she is thoughtful; no one has a kinder
heart, one capable of loving more devotedly.
But to think how prejudiced the world are to-
wards her people; that she must be reared in
such ignorance as to drown all the finer feelings.
When I think of what she might be, of what she
will be, I feel like grasping time till opinions
change, and thousands like her rise into a noble
freedom. I have seen Frado's grief, because she
is black, amount to agony. It makes me sick to
recall these scenes. Mother pretends to think
she don't know enough to sorrow for anything;
but if she could see her as I have, when she sup-
posed herself entirely alone, except her little dog
Fido, lamenting her loneliness and complexion, I
think, if she is not past feeling, she would retract.
In the summer I was walking near the barn, and
as I stood I heard sobs. 'Oh! oh!' I heard,


'why was I made? why can't I die? Oh, what
have I to live for? No one cares for me only to
get my work. And I feel sick; who cares for
that? Work as long as I can stand, and then
fall down and lay there till I can get up. No
mother, father, brother or sister to care for me,
and then it is, You lazy nigger, lazy nigger--all
because I am black! Oh, if I could die!'

"I stepped into the barn, where I could see
her. She was crouched down by the hay with
her faithful friend Fido, and as she ceased speak-
ing, buried her face in her hands, and cried bit-
terly; then, patting Fido, she kissed him, saying,
'You love me, Fido, don't you? but we must go
work in the field.' She started on her mission;
I called her to me, and told her she need not go,
the hay was doing well.

"She has such confidence in me that she will
do just as I tell her; so we found a seat under
a shady tree, and there I took the opportunity to
combat the notions she seemed to entertain
respecting the loneliness of her condition and
want of sympathizing friends. I assured her that
mother's views were by no means general; that
in our part of the country there were thousands


upon thousands who favored the elevation of
her race, disapproving of oppression in all its
forms; that she was not unpitied, friendless, and
utterly despised; that she might hope for better
things in the future. Having spoken these
words of comfort, I rose with the resolution that
if I recovered my health I would take her home
with me, whether mother was willing or not."
"I don't know what your mother would do
without her; still, I wish she was away."

Susan now came for her long absent husband,
and they returned home to their room.
The month of November was one of great
anxiety on James's account. He was rapidly
wasting away.

A celebrated physician was called, and per-
formed a surgical operation, as a last means.
Should this fail, there was no hope. Of course
he was confined wholly to his room, mostly to
his bed. With all his bodily suffering, all his
anxiety for his family, whom he might not live
to protect, he did not forget Frado. He shielded
her from many beatings, and every day imparted
religious instructions. No one, but his wife,
could move him so easily as Frado; so that in


addition to her daily toil she was often deprived
of her rest at night.

Yet she insisted on being called; she wished
to show her love for one who had been such a
friend to her. Her anxiety and grief increased
as the probabilities of his recovery became

Mrs. Bellmont found her weeping on his ac-
count, shut her up, and whipped her with the
raw-hide, adding an injunction never to be seen
snivelling again because she had a little work to
do. She was very careful never to shed tears on
his account, in her presence, afterwards.