Harriet Wilson


--"Other cares engross me, and my tired soul with emulative haste,
Looks to its God."

THE brother associated with James in business,
in Baltimore, was sent for to confer with one
who might never be able to see him there.
James began to speak of life as closing; of
heaven, as of a place in immediate prospect; of
aspirations, which waited for fruition in glory.
His brother, Lewis by name, was an especial fa-
vorite of sister Mary; more like her, in disposi-
tion and preferences than James or Jack.
He arrived as soon as possible after the re-
quest, and saw with regret the sure indications
of fatality in his sick brother, and listened to his
admonitions--admonitions to a Christian life--
with tears, and uttered some promises of atten-
tion to the subject so dear to the heart of

How gladly he would have extended healing


aid. But, alas! it was not in his power; so,
after listening to his wishes and arrangements
for his family and business, he decided to return

Anxious for company home, he persuaded his
father and mother to permit Mary to attend him.
She was not at all needed in the sick room; she
did not choose to be useful in the kitchen, and
then she was fully determined to go.

So all the trunks were assembled and cram-
med with the best selections from the wardrobe
of herself and mother, where the last-mentioned
articles could be appropriated.

"Nig was never so helpful before," Mary re-
marked, and wondered what had induced such a
change in place of former sullenness.

Nig was looking further than the present, and
congratulating herself upon some days of peace,
for Mary never lost opportunity of informing
her mother of Nig's delinquencies, were she
otherwise ignorant.

Was it strange if she were officious, with such
relief in prospect?

The parting from the sick brother was tearful
and sad. James prayed in their presence for


their renewal in holiness; and urged their im-
mediate attention to eternal realities, and gained
a promise that Susan and Charlie should share
their kindest regards.
No sooner were they on their way, than Nig
slyly crept round to Aunt Abby's room, and tip-
toeing and twisting herself into all shapes, she

"She's gone, Aunt Abby, she's gone, fairly
gone;" and jumped up and down, till Aunt
Abby feared she would attract the notice of her
mistress by such demonstrations.

"Well, she's gone, gone, Aunt Abby. I hope
she'll never come back again."

"No! no! Frado, that's wrong! you would
be wishing her dead; that won't do."

"Well, I'll bet she'll never come back again;
somehow, I feel as though she wouldn't."

"She is James's sister," remonstrated Aunt

"So is our cross sheep just as much, that I
ducked in the river; I'd like to try my hand at
curing her too."

"But you forget what our good minister told
us last week, about doing good to those that
hate us."


"Didn't I do good, Aunt Abby, when I washed
and ironed and packed her old duds to get rid
of her, and helped her pack her trunks, and run
here and there for her?"

"Well, well, Frado; you must go finish your
work, or your mistress will be after you, and
remind you severely of Miss Mary, and some
others beside."

Nig went as she was told, and her clear voice
was heard as she went, singing in joyous notes
the relief she felt at the removal of one of her

Day by day the quiet of the sick man's room
was increased. He was helpless and nervous;
and often wished change of position, thereby
hoping to gain momentary relief. The calls
upon Frado were consequently more frequent,
her nights less tranquil. Her health was im-
paired by lifting the sick man, and by drudgery
in the kitchen. Her ill health she endeavored
to conceal from James, fearing he might have
less repose if there should be a change of at-
tendants; and Mrs. Bellmont, she well knew,
would have no sympathy for her. She was at
last so much reduced as to be unable to stand


erect for any great length of time. She would
sit at the table to wash her dishes; if she heard
the well-known step of her mistress, she would
rise till she returned to her room, and then sink
down for further rest. Of course she was longer
than usual in completing the services assigned
her. This was a subject of complaint to Mrs.
Bellmont; and Frado endeavored to throw off
all appearance of sickness in her presence.
But it was increasing upon her, and she could
no longer hide her indisposition. Her mistress
entered one day, and finding her seated, com-
manded her to go to work. "I am sick," replied
Frado, rising and walking slowly to her unfin-
ished task, "and cannot stand long, I feel so

Angry that she should venture a reply to her
command, she suddenly inflicted a blow which
lay the tottering girl prostrate on the floor. Ex-
cited by so much indulgence of a dangerous pas-
sion, she seemed left to unrestrained malice; and
snatching a towel, stuffed the mouth of the suf-
ferer, and beat her cruelly.

Frado hoped she would end her misery by
whipping her to death. She bore it with the


hope of a martyr, that her misery would soon
close. Though her mouth was muffled, and the
sounds much stifled, there was a sensible com-
motion, which James' quick ear detected.
"Call Frado to come here," he said faintly, "I
have not seen her to-day."

Susan retired with the request to the kitchen,
where it was evident some brutal scene had just
been enacted.

Mrs. Bellmont replied that she had "some
work to do just now; when that was done, she
might come."

Susan's appearance confirmed her husband's
fears, and he requested his father, who sat by
the bedside, to go for her. This was a messen-
ger, as James well knew, who could not be de-
nied; and the girl entered the room, sobbing
and faint with anguish.

James called her to him, and inquired the
cause of her sorrow. She was afraid to expose
the cruel author of her misery, lest she should
provoke new attacks. But after much entreaty,
she told him all, much which had escaped his
watchful ear. Poor James shut his eyes in
silence, as if pained to forgetfulness by the re-


cital. Then turning to Susan, he asked her to
take Charlie, and walk out; "she needed the
fresh air," he said. "And say to mother I wish
Frado to sit by me till you return. I think you
are fading, from staying so long in this sick
room." Mr. B. also left, and Frado was thus left
alone with her friend. Aunt Abby came in to
make her daily visit, and seeing the sick coun-
tenance of the attendant, took her home with
her to administer some cordial. She soon re-
turned, however, and James kept her with him
the rest of the day; and a comfortable night's
repose following, she was enabled to continue, as
usual, her labors. James insisted on her attend-
ing religious meetings in the vicinity with Aunt

Frado, under the instructions of Aunt Abby
and the minister, became a believer in a future
existence--one of happiness or misery. Her
doubt was, is there a heaven for the black? She
knew there was one for James, and Aunt Abby,
and all good white people; but was there any
for blacks? She had listened attentively to all
the minister said, and all Aunt Abby had told
her; but then it was all for white people.


As James approached that blessed world, she
felt a strong desire to follow, and be with one
who was such a dear, kind friend to her.

While she was exercised with these desires
and aspirations, she attended an evening meet-
ing with Aunt Abby, and the good man urged
all, young or old, to accept the offers of mercy,
to receive a compassionate Jesus as their Sa-
viour. "Come to Christ," he urged, "all, young
or old, white or black, bond or free, come all to
Christ for pardon; repent, believe."

This was the message she longed to hear; it
seemed to be spoken for her. But he had told
them to repent; "what was that?" she asked.
She knew she was unfit for any heaven, made
for whites or blacks. She would gladly repent,
or do anything which would admit her to share
the abode of James.

Her anxiety increased; her countenance bore
marks of solicitude unseen before; and though
she said nothing of her inward contest, they all
observed a change.

James and Aunt Abby hoped it was the
springing of good seed sown by the Spirit of
God. Her tearful attention at the last meeting


encouraged his aunt to hope that her mind was
awakened, her conscience aroused. Aunt Abby
noticed that she was particularly engaged in
reading the Bible; and this strengthened her
conviction that a heavenly Messenger was striv-
ing with her. The neighbors dropped in to in-
quire after the sick, and also if Frado was "seri-
ous?" They noticed she seemed very thought-
ful and tearful at the meetings. Mrs. Reed was
very inquisitive; but Mrs. Bellmont saw no ap-
pearance of change for the better. She did not
feel responsible for her spiritual culture, and
hardly believed she had a soul.

Nig was in truth suffering much; her feelings
were very intense on any subject, when once
aroused. She read her Bible carefully, and as
often as an opportunity presented, which was
when entirely secluded in her own apartment,
or by Aunt Abby's side, who kindly directed her
to Christ, and instructed her in the way of salva-

Mrs. Bellmont found her one day quietly
reading her Bible. Amazed and half crediting
the reports of officious neighbors, she felt it was
time to interfere. Here she was, reading and


shedding tears over the Bible. She ordered her
to put up the book, and go to work, and not be
snivelling about the house, or stop to read

But there was one little spot seldom penetra-
ted by her mistress' watchful eye: this was her
room, uninviting and comfortless; but to her-
self a safe retreat. Here she would listen to the
pleadings of a Saviour, and try to penetrate the
veil of doubt and sin which clouded her soul,
and long to cast off the fetters of sin, and rise
to the communion of saints.

Mrs. Bellmont, as we before said, did not trou-
ble herself about the future destiny of her ser-
vant. If she did what she desired for her bene-
fit, it was all the responsibility she acknowledged.
But she seemed to have great aversion to the
notice Nig would attract should she become
pious. How could she meet this case? She re-
solved to make her complaint to John. Strange,
when she was always foiled in this direction, she
should resort to him. It was time something
was done; she had begun to read the Bible

The night of this discovery, as they were


retiring, Mrs. Bellmont introduced the conver-
sation, by saying:

"I want your attention to what I am going
to say. I have let Nig go out to evening meet-
ings a few times, and, if you will believe it, I
found her reading the Bible to-day, just as
though she expected to turn pious nigger, and
preach to white folks. So now you see what
good comes of sending her to school. If she
should get converted she would have to go to
meeting: at least, as long as James lives. I wish
he had not such queer notions about her. It
seems to trouble him to know he must die and
leave her. He says if he should get well he
would take her home with him, or educate her
here. Oh, how awful! What can the child
mean? So careful, too, of her! He says we
shall ruin her health making her work so hard,
and sleep in such a place. O, John! do you
think he is in his right mind?"

"Yes, yes; she is slender."

"Yes, yes!" she repeated sarcastically, "you
know these niggers are just like black snakes;
you can't kill them. If she wasn't tough she


would have been killed long ago. There was
never one of my girls could do half the work."

"Did they ever try?" interposed her husband.

"I think she can do more than all of them

"What a man!" said she, peevishly. "But I
want to know what is going to be done with her
about getting pious?"

"Let her do just as she has a mind to. If it
is a comfort to her, let her enjoy the privilege of
being good. I see no objection."
"I should think you were crazy, sure. Don't
you know that every night she will want to go
toting off to meeting? and Sundays, too? and
you know we have a great deal of company
Sundays, and she can't be spared."
"I thought you Christians held to going to
church," remarked Mr. B.
"Yes, but who ever thought of having a nig-
ger go, except to drive others there? Why,
according to you and James, we should very
soon have her in the parlor, as smart as our
own girls. It's of no use talking to you or
James. If you should go on as you would like,
it would not be six months before she would be


leaving me; and that won't do. Just think how
much profit she was to us last summer. We
had no work hired out; she did the work of two

"And got the whippings for two with it!"
remarked Mr. Bellmont.

"I'll beat the money out of her, if I can't get
her worth any other way," retorted Mrs. B.
sharply. While this scene was passing, Frado
was trying to utter the prayer of the publican,
"God be merciful to me a sinner."