There were many typos in this book, but I still enjoyed the story. I was given this book from the writer, but was in no way paid for the review. Jul 14, Morgan rated it liked it Shelves: 3-stars. I missed Elizabeth! Covenant illustrates what Lev undergoes after the Sojourner cliffhanger.
I really missed Elizabeth since she is barely in this story, but I think it was important for Hooley to show that Lev had his own obstacles to overcome and battles of his own to fight. I was very frustrated with Evan and Celia in this novel. She is in his dreams and he feels a pull toward her, but he doesn't remember her or understand the significance she has in his life. A lot of the drama could have been avoided if Evan and Celia wouldn't have lied and hidden things from Lev. It just frustrates me that the major conflict could have all been avoided with communication!!
On a similar but different note, I think it was neat how even though Lev doesn't remember Elizabeth he still feels connected to her. If you enjoyed Sojourner this is a must read. Mar 13, Sara rated it really liked it Shelves: kindle. God, this book was so sad It was hard to see Lev suffer like that, not having his full memories but only feeling desperation and a connection to Elizabeth and an ache in his chest. Seeing him cry and look at her suffer and mourn him and slowly die inside for she missed him so much she couldn't live without him It was painful.
I also was a little mad at how things have been dealt with Lev's memories by Evan. I know he meant well, but he just made things worse at the end of the day. Lev had God, this book was so sad Lev had to go seek help to bad angels and that was just so wrong. Speaking of thr Devil, I didn't like the evil gang. They creeped me out. I'm also kind of glad I've read Second Sight first which was initially intended as 2nd book in the series and then read Covenant now being 2nd book in the series , because if I had read this first, I would have already known who the bad guys were in Second Sight and that would have spoiled the fun.
I wouldn't have been in the dark like Elizabeth is. Well written story. Very emotional and touching. Also kind of frustrating and maddening.
I really enjoyed this piece of the story from Lev's point of view. May 19, Lauren rated it really liked it. The first had caught my interest so I bought the second right after reading the first. This one was probably my least favorite out of all of them. Though it was nice to see Lev's side of how his "death" was affecting him and Elizabeth, I missed Elizabeth more. It was very short compared to the other books but I'm glad it was. I think that I only needed a glimpse of what was happening on the other side of things. Jan 04, Martina rated it really liked it.
Mar 27, Christy rated it it was amazing. Unlike the first this story is told from Lev's perspective which gives another heartbreaking side to this tale. Much more information into how the Angels work because the reader gets to learn along with Lev in some ways as he tries to recapture his memory.
The idea that love is the one constant is truly present in this 2nd book to the series Not as good as 1. This book is from Lev's point of view, continuing the story from 1. He makes some stupid decisions and it's just over and over about heartache, love struck, etc. Sep 28, Tracy rated it really liked it Shelves: paranormal-everything , favorite-author , favorites , follow-up-4additional-books.
Great second book to the series. Shadow rated it it was ok Jul 16, Jackie rated it really liked it Jul 13, Kortney rated it really liked it Jan 15, Jaimee rated it it was ok Dec 25, Hilali rated it it was amazing May 25, Susan Martins Miller. Bonnie Harvey. Add to Basket Add to Wishlist. Bestsellers in Biography. Roy Williams , Elizabeth Meyers.
Heaven is For Real. Todd Burpo , Lynn Vincent. Eric T Eichinger. Angels in the Er. Robert D Lesslie. Jackie Hill Perry. Costi Hinn. Abby Johnson. At times, a groan would escape her, and she would Page 18 break cut in the language of the Psalmist--'Oh Lord, how long? Thus, in her humble way, did she endeavor to show them their Heavenly Father, as the only being who could protect them in their perilous condition; at the same time, she would strengthen and brighten the chain of family affection, which she trusted extended itself sufficiently to connect the widely scattered members of her precious flock.
These instructions of the mother were treasured up and held sacred by Isabella, as our future narrative will show. At length, the never-to be-forgotten day of the terrible auction arrived, when the 'slaves, horses, and other cattle' of Charles Ardinburgh, deceased, were to be put under the hammer, and again change masters. Not only Isabella and Peter, but their mother, was now destined to the auction block, and would have been struck off with the rest to the highest bidder, but for the following circumstance: A question arose among the heirs, 'Who shall be burdened with Bomefree, when we have sent away his faithful Mau-mau Bett?
After some contention on the point at issue, none being willing to be burdened with him, it was finally agreed, as most expedient for the heirs, that the price of Mau-mau Bett should be sacrificed, and she receive her freedom, on condition that she take care of and support her faithful James,--faithful, not only to her as a husband, but proverbially faithful as a slave to those who would not willingly sacrifice a dollar for his comfort, now that he had commenced his descent into the dark vale of decrepitude and suffering.
This important decision was received as joyful news indeed to our ancient couple, who were the objects of it, and who were trying to prepare their hearts for a severe struggle, and one altogether new to them, as they had never before been separated; for, though ignorant, helpless, crushed in spirit, and weighed down with hardship and cruel bereavement, they were still human, and their human hearts beat within them with as true an affection as ever caused a human heart to beat.
And their anticipated separation now, in the decline of life, after the last child had been torn from them, must have been truly appalling. Another privilege was granted them--that of remaining occupants of the same dark, humid cellar I have before described: otherwise, they were to support themselves as they best could. And as her mother was still able to do considerable work, and her father a little, they got on for some time very comfortably. The strangers who rented the house were humane people, and very kind to them; they were not rich, and owned no slaves. How long this state of things continued, we are unable to say, as Isabella had not then Page 20 sufficiently cultivated her organ of time to calculate years, or even weeks or hours.
But she thinks her mother must have lived several years after the death of Master Charles. She remembers going to visit her parents some three or four times before the death of her mother, and a good deal of time seemed to her to intervene between each visit.
At length her mother's health began to decline--a fever-sore made its ravages on one of her limbs, and the palsy began to shake her frame; still, she and James tottered about, picking up a little here and there, which, added to the mites contributed by their kind neighbors, sufficed to sustain life, and drive famine from the door. One morning, in early autumn, from the reason above mentioned, we cannot tell what year, Mau-mau Bett told James she would make him a leaf of rye-bread, and get Mrs.
Simmons, their kind neighbor, to bake it for them, as she would bake that forenoon. James told her he had engaged to rake after the cart for his neighbors that morning; but before he commenced, he would pole off some apples from a tree near, which they were allowed to gather; and if she could get some of them baked with the bread, it would give it a nice relish for their dinner.
He beat off the apples, and soon after, saw Mau-mau Bett come out and gather them up. At the blowing of the horn for dinner, he groped his way into his cellar, anticipating his humble, but warm and nourishing meal; when, lo!
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But, on groping his way through the room, his staff, which he used as a pioneer to go before, and warn him of danger, seemed to be impeded in its progress, and a low, gurgling, choking sound proceeded from the object before him, giving him the first intimation of the truth as it was, that Mau-mau Bett, his bosom companion, the only remaining member of his large family, had fallen in a fit of the palsy, and lay helpless and senseless on the earth! Who among us, located in pleasant homes, surrounded with every comfort, and so many kind and sympathizing friends, can picture to ourselves the dark and desolate state of poor old James--penniless, weak, lame, and nearly blind, as he was at the moment he found his companion was removed from him, and he was left alone in the world, with no one to aid, comfort, or console him?
Isabella and Peter were permitted to see the remains of their mother laid in their last narrow dwelling, and to make their bereaved father a little visit, ere they returned to their servitude. And most piteous were the lamentations of the poor old man, when, at last, they also were obliged to bid him "Farewell!
Blind and crippled, he was too superannuated to think for a moment of taking care of himself, and he greatly feared no persons would interest themselves in Page 22 his behalf. What is to become of me? I can't do any thing more--my children are all gone, and here I am left helpless and alone.
I HEAR it now --and remember it as well as if it were but yesterday-- poor old man!!! He thought God had done it all--and my heart bled within me at the sight of his misery. He begged me to get permission to come and see him sometimes, which I readily and heartily promised him.
If, when he made a removal, the place where he was going was not too far off, he took up his line of march, staff in hand, and asked for no assistance. If it was twelve or twenty miles, they gave him a ride. While he was living in this way, Isabella was twice permitted to visit him. Another time she walked twelve miles, and carried her infant in her arms to see him, but when she reached the place where she hoped to find him, he had just left for a place some twenty miles distant, and she never saw him more.
The last time she did see him, she found him seated on a rock, by the-road side, alone, and far from any house. He was then migrating from the house of one Ardinburgh to that of another, several miles distant. His hair was white like wool--he was almost blind--and his gait was more a creep than a walk--but the weather was warm Page 23 and pleasant, and he did not dislike the journey.
When Isabella addressed him, he recognized her voice, and was exceeding glad to see her. He was assisted to mount the wagon, was carried back to the famous cellar of which we have spoken, and there they held their last earthly conversation. He again, as usual, bewailed his loneliness,--spoke in tones of anguish of his many children, saying "They are all taken away from me! I have now not one to give me a cup of cold water--why should I live and not die?
She now says, 'Why, I thought then, in my ignorance, that he could live, if he would. I just as much thought so, as I ever thought any thing in my life--and I insisted on his living: but he shook his head, and insisted he could not. I was about to say, 'their brother-in-law'--but as slaves are neither husbands nor wives in law, the idea of their being brothers-in-law is truly ludicrous.
Sojourner declares of the slaves in their ignorance, that 'their thoughts are no longer than her finger. A rude cabin, in a lone wood, far from any neighbors, was granted to our freed friends, as the only assistance they were now to expect. Bomefree, from this time, found his poor needs hardly supplied, as his new providers were scarce able to administer to their own wants. Yet, lone, blind and helpless as he was, James for a time lived on. One day, an aged colored woman, named Soan, called at his shanty, and James besought her, in the most moving manner, even with tears, to tarry awhile and wash and mend him up, so that he might once more be decent and comfortable; for he was suffering dreadfully with the filth and vermin that had collected upon him.
Soan was herself an emancipated slave, old and weak, Page 25 with no one to care for her; and she lacked the courage to undertake a job of such seeming magnitude, fearing she might herself get sick, and perish there without assistance; and with great reluctance, and a heart swelling with pity, as she afterwards declared, she felt obliged to leave him in his wretchedness and filth. And shortly after her visit, this faithful slave, this deserted wreck of humanity, was found on his miserable pallet, frozen and stiff in death.
The kind angel had come at last, and relieved him of the many miseries that his fellow-man had heaped upon him. Yes, he had died, chilled and starved, with none to speak a kindly word, or do a kindly deed for him, in that last dread hour of need! The news of his death reached the ears of John Ardinburgh, a grandson of the old Colonel; and he declared that 'Bomefree, who had ever been a kind and faithful slave, should now have a good funeral. Answer--some black paint for the coffin, and-- a jug of ardent spirits!
What a compensation for a life of toil, of patient submission to repeated robberies of the most aggravated kind, and, also, far more than murderous neglect!! Mankind often vainly attempt to atone for unkindness or cruelty to the living, by honoring the same after death; but John Ardinburgh undoubtedly meant his pot of paint and jug of whisky should act as an opiate on his slaves, rather than on his own seared conscience.
Having seen the sad end of her parents, so far as it relates to this earthly life, we will return with Isabella to Page 26 that memorable auction which threatened to separate her father and mother. A slave auction is a terrible affair to its victims, and its incidents and consequences are graven on their hearts as with a pen of burning steel. At this memorable time, Isabella was struck off, for the sum of one hundred dollars, to one John Nealy, of Ulster County, New York; and she has an impression that in this sale she was connected with a lot of sheep.
She was now nine years of age, and her trials in life may be dated from this period. She says, with emphasis, ' Now the war begun. Nealy could understand Dutch, but Isabel and her mistress could neither of them understand the language of the other--and this, of itself, was a formidable obstacle in the way of a good understanding between them, and for some time was a fruitful source of dissatisfaction to the mistress, and of punishment and suffering to Isabella.
She says, 'If they sent me for a frying-pan, not knowing what they meant, perhaps I carried them the pot-hooks and trammels. Then, oh! During the winter her feet were badly frozen, for want of proper covering. They gave her a plenty to eat, and also a plenty of whippings. One Sunday morning, in particular, she was told to go to the barn; on going there, she found her master with a bundle of rods, prepared in the embers, and bound together with cords. When he had tied her hands together before her, he gave her the most cruel whipping she was ever tortured with.
He whipped her till the flesh was deeply lacerated, and the blood streamed from her wounds--and the scars remain to the present day, to testify to the fact. She always asked with an unwavering faith that she should receive just what she plead for,--'And now,' she says, 'though it seems curious, I do not remember ever asking for any thing but what I got it. And I always received it as an answer to my prayers. When I got beaten, I never knew it long enough beforehand to pray; and I always thought if I only had had time to pray to God for help, I should have escaped the beating.
And consequently, she could not pray unless she had time and opportunity to go by herself, where she could talk to God without being overheard. When she had been at Mr. Nealy's several months, she began to beg God most earnestly to send her father to her, and as soon as she commenced to pray, she began as confidently to look for his coming, and, ere it was long to her great joy, he came.
She had no opportunity to speak to him of the troubles that weighed so heavily on Page 28 her spirit, while he remained; but when he left, she followed him to the gate, and unburdened her heart to him, inquiring if he could not do something to get her a new and better place. In this way the slaves often assist each other, by ascertaining who are kind to their slaves, comparatively; and then using their influence to get such an one to hire or buy their friends; and masters, often from policy, as well as from latent humanity, allow those they are about to sell or let, to choose their own places, if the persons they happen to select for masters are considered safe pay.
He promised to do all he could, and they parted. But, every day, as long as the snow lasted, for there was snow on the ground at the time, she returned to the spot where they separated, and walking in the tracks her father had made in the snow, repeated her prayer that 'God would help her father get her a new and better place. A long time had not elapsed, when a fisherman by the name of Scriver appeared at Mr.
Nealy's, and inquired of Isabel 'if she would like to go and live with him. He also lived in Ulster County, but some five or six miles from Mr. Scriver, besides being a fisherman, kept a tavern for the accommodation of people of his own class--for his was a rude, uneducated family, exceedingly profane in their language, but, on the whole, an honest, kind and well-disposed people.
They owned a large farm, but left it wholly unimproved; attending mainly to their vocations of fishing Page 29 and inn-keeping. Isabella declares she can ill describe the life she led with them. It was a wild, out-of-door kind of lief. She was expected to carry fish, to hoe corn, to bring roots and herbs from the wood for beers, go to the Strand for a gallon of molasses or liquor as the case might require, and 'browse around,' as she expresses it. It was a life that suited her well for the time--being as devoid of hardship or terror as it was of improvement; a need which had not yet become a want.
Instead of improving at this place, morally, she retrograded, as their example taught her to curse; and it was here that she took her first oath. After living with them about a year and a half, she was sold to one John J. Dumont, for the sum of seventy pounds. This was in Dumont lived in the same county as her former masters, in the town of New Paltz, and she remained with him till a short time previous to her emancipation by the State, in Had Mrs. Dumont possessed that vein of kindness and consideration for the slaves, so perceptible in her husband's character, Isabella would have been as comfortable here, as one had best be, if one must be a slave.
Dumont had been nursed in the very lap of slavery, and being naturally a man of kind feelings, treated his slaves with all the consideration he did his other animals, and more, perhaps. But Mrs. Dumont, who had been born and educated in a non-slaveholding family, and, like many others, used only to work-people, who, under the most Page 30 stimulating of human motives, were willing to put forth their every energy, could not have patience with the creeping gait, the dull understanding, or see any cause for the listless manners and careless, slovenly habits of the poor down-trodden outcast--entirely forgetting that every high and efficient motive had been removed far from him; and that, had not his very intellect been crushed out of him, the slave would find little ground for aught but hopeless despondency.
From this source arose a long series of trials in the life of our heroine, which we must pass over in silence; some from motives of delicacy, and others, because the relation of them might inflict undeserved pain on some now living, whom Isabel remembers only with esteem and love; therefore, the reader will not be surprised if our narrative appear somewhat tame at this point, and may rest assured that it is not for want of facts, as the most thrilling incidents of this portion of her life are from various motives suppressed.
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One comparatively trifling incident she wishes related, as it made a deep impression on her mind at the time--showing, as she thinks, how God shields the innocent, and causes them to triumph over their enemies, and also how she stood between master and mistress. In her family, Mrs. Dumont employed two white girls, one of whom, named Kate, evinced a disposition to 'lord it over' Isabel, and, in her emphatic language, 'to grind her down. Dumont and her white servant, the latter of whom took every opportunity to cry up her faults, lessen her in the esteem of her master Page 31 and increase against her the displeasure of her mistress, which was already more than sufficient for Isabel's comfort.
Her master insisted that she could do as much work as half a dozen common people, and do it well, too; whilst her mistress insisted that the first was true, only because it ever came from her hand but half performed. A good deal of feeling arose from this difference of opinion, which was getting to rather an uncomfortable height, when, all at once, the potatoes that Isabel cooked for breakfast assumed a dingy, dirty look.
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Her mistress blamed her severely, asking her master to observe 'a fine specimen of Bell's work! Kate joined with zest in the censures, and was very hard upon her. Isabella thought that she had done all she well could to have them nice; and became quite distressed at these appearances, and wondered what she should do to avoid them. In this dilemma, Gertrude Dumont, Mr. Isabella gladly availed herself of this kindness, which touched her to the heart, amid so much of an opposite spirit. When Isabella had put the potatoes over to boil.
Page 32 Getty told her she would herself tend the fire, while Isabel milked. She had not long been seated by the fire, in performance of her promise, when Kate entered, and requested Gertrude to go out of the room and do something for her, which she refused, still keeping her place in the corner. While there, Kate came sweeping about the fire, caught up a chip, lifted some ashes with it, and dashed them into the kettle.
Now the mystery was solved, the plot discovered! Kate was working a little too fast at making her mistress's words good, at showing that Mrs.
Dumont and herself were on the right side of the dispute, and consequently at gaining power over Isabella. Yes, she was quite too fast, inasmuch as she had overlooked the little figure of justice, which sat in the corner, with scales nicely balanced, waiting to give all their dues. But the time had come when she was to be overlooked no longer. It was Getty's turn to speak now.
I saw her do it! Look at those that fell on the outside of the kettle! You can now see what made the potatoes so dingy every morning, though Bell washed them clean! Her mistress looked blank, and remained dumb--her master muttered something which sounded very like an oath--and poor Kate was so chop-fallen, she looked like a convicted criminal, who would gladly have hid herself, now that the baseness was out, to conceal her mortified pride and deep chagrin.
It was a fine triumph for Isabella and her master, and she became more ambitious than ever to please him; and he stimulated her ambition by his commendation, and Page 33 by boasting of her to his friends, telling them that ' tha wench' pointing to Isabel 'is better to me than a man --for she will do a good family's washing in the night, and be ready in the morning to go into the field, where she will do as much at raking and binding as my best hands. These extra exertions to please, and the praises consequent upon them, brought upon her head the envy of her fellow-slaves, and they taunted her with being the ' white folks' nigger.
I asked her if her master, Dumont, ever whipped her? She answered, 'Oh yes, he sometimes whipped me soundly, though never cruelly. And the most severe whipping he ever give me was because I was cruel to a cat. And she used sometimes to confess her delinquencies, from the conviction that he already knew them, and that she should fare better if she confessed voluntarily: and if any one talked to her of the injustice of her being a slave, she answered them with contempt and immediately told her master. She then firmly believed that slavery was right and honorable.
Yet she now sees very clearly the false position they were all in, both masters and slaves; and she looks back, with utter astonishment, at the absurdity of the Page 34 claims so arrogantly set up by the masters, over beings designed by God to be as free as kings; and at the perfect stupidity of the slave, in admitting for one moment the validity of these claims. In obedience to her mother's instructions, she had educated herself to such a sense of honesty, that, when she had become a mother, she would sometimes whip her child when it cried to her for bread, rather than give it a piece secretly, lest it should learn to take what was not its own!
And the writer of this knows, from personal observation, that the slaveholders of the South feel it to be a religious duty to teach their slaves to be honest, and never to take what is not their own! Oh consistency, art thou not a jewel? Yet Isabella glories in the fact that she was faithful and true to her master; she says, 'It made me true to my God'--meaning, that it helped to form in her a character that loved truth, and hated a lie, and had saved her from the bitter pains and fears that are sure to follow in the wake of insincerity and hypocrisy.
As she advanced in years, an attachment sprung up between herself and a slave named Robert. But his master, an Englishman by the name of Catlin, anxious that no one's property but his own should be enhanced by the increase of his slaves, forbade Robert's visits to Isabella, and commanded him to take a wife among his fellow-servants.
Notwithstanding this interdiction, Robert, following the bent of his inclinations, continued his visits to Isabel, though very stealthily, and, as he believed, without exciting the suspicion of his master; but one Saturday afternoon, hearing that Bell was ill, he took the liberty to go and see her. The first intimation she had of his visit was the appearance of her master, inquiring if she had seen Bob. They were terribly enraged at finding him there, and the eldest began cursing, and calling upon his son to ' Knock down the d--d black rascal;' at the same time, they both fell upon him like tigers, beating him with the heavy ends of their canes, bruising and mangling his head and face in the most awful manner, and causing the blood, which streamed from his wounds, to cover him like a slaughtered beast, constituting him a most shocking spectacle.
Dumont interposed at this point, telling the ruffians they could no longer thus spill human blood on his premises--he would have 'no niggers killed there. Dumont insisted on loosening the cord, declaring that no brute should be tied in that manner, where he was. And as they led him away, like the greatest of criminals, the more humane Dumont followed them to their homes, as Robert's protector; and when he returned, he kindly went to Bell, as he called her, telling her he did not think they would strike him any more, as their wrath had greatly cooled before he left them. Isabella had witnessed this scene from her window, and was greatly shocked at the murderous treatment of poor Robert, whom she truly loved, and whose only crime, in the eye of his persecutors, was his affection for her.
This beating, and we know not what after treatment, completely subdued the spirit of its victim, for Robert ventured no more to visit Isabella, but like an obedient and faithful chattel, took himself a wife from the house of Page 36 his master. Robert did not live many years after his last visit to Isabel, but took his departure to that country, where 'they neither marry nor are given in marriage,' and where the oppressor cannot molest. Subsequently, Isabella was married to a fellow slave, named Thomas, who had previously had two wives, one of whom, if not both, had been torn from him and sold far away.
And it is more than probable, that he was not only allowed but encouraged to take another at each successive sale. I say it is probable, because the writer of this knows from personal observation, that such is the custom among slaveholders at the present day; and that in a twenty months' residence among them, we never knew any one to open the lip against the practise; and when we severely censured it, the slaveholder had nothing to say; and the slave pleaded that, under existing circumstances, he could do no better.
Such an abominable state of things is silently tolerated, to say the least, by slaveholders--deny it who may. And what is that religion that sanctions, even by its silence, all that is embraced in the 'Peculiar Institution? We have said, Isabella was married to Thomas--she was, after the fashion of slavery, one of the slaves performing the ceremony for them; as no true minister of Page 37 Christ can perform, as in the presence of God, what he knows to be a mere farce, a mock marriage, unrecognized by any civil law, and liable to be annulled any moment, when the interest or caprice of the master should dictate.
With what feelings must slaveholders expect us to listen to their horror of amalgamation in prospect, while they are well aware that we know how calmly and quietly they contemplate the present state of licentiousness their own wicked laws have created, not only as it regards the slave, but as it regards the more privileged portion of the population of the South?
Slaveholders appear to me to take the same notice of the vices of the slave, as one does of the vicious disposition of his horse. They are often an inconvenience; further than that, they care not to trouble themselves about the matter. In process of time, Isabella found herself the mother of five children, and she rejoiced in being permitted to be the instrument of increasing the property of her oppressors!
Think, dear reader, without a blush, if you can, for one moment, of a mother thus willingly, and with pride, laying her own children, the 'flesh of her flesh,' on the altar of slavery--a sacrifice to the bloody Moloch! But we must remember that beings capable of such sacrifices are not mothers; they are only 'things,' 'chattels,' 'property. But since that time, the subject of this narrative has made some advances from a state of chattelism towards that of a woman and a mother; and she now looks back upon her thoughts and feelings there, in her state of ignorance Page 38 and degradation, as one does on the dark imagery of a fitful dream.
One moment it seems but a frightful illusion; again it appears a terrible reality. I would to God it were but a dreamy myth, and not, as it now stands, a horrid reality to some three millions of chattelized human beings. I have already alluded to her care not to teach her children to steal, by her example; and she says, with groanings that cannot be written, 'The Lord only knows how many times I let my children go hungry, rather than take secretly the bread I liked not to ask for.
Another proof of her master's kindness of heart is found in the following fact. If her master came into the house and found her infant crying, as she could not always attend to its wants and the commands of her mistress at the same time, he would turn to his wife with a look of reproof, and ask her why she did not see the child taken care of; saying, most earnestly, 'I will not hear this crying; I can't bear it, and I will not hear any child cry so.
Here, Bell, take care of this child, if no more work is done for a week. When Isabella went to the field to work, she used to put her infant in a basket, tying a rope to each handle, and suspending the basket to a branch of a tree, set another small child to swing it. It was thus secure from reptiles, and was easily administered to, and even lulled to sleep, by a child too young for other labors. I was quite struck with the ingenuity of such a baby-tender, as I have sometimes been with the swinging hammock the native mother prepares for her sick infant--apparently so much Page 39 easier than aught we have in our more civilized homes; easier for the child, because it gets the motion without the least jar; and easier for the nurse, because the hammock is strung so high as to supersede the necessity of stooping.
After emancipation had been decreed by the State, some years before the time fixed for its consummation, Isabella's master told her if she would do well, and be faithful, he would give her 'free papers,' one year before she was legally free by statute. In the year , she had a badly diseased hand, which greatly diminished her usefulness; but on the arrival of July 4, , the time specified for her receiving her 'free papers,' she claimed the fulfilment of her master's promise; but he refused granting it, on account as he alleged of the loss he had sustained by her hand.
She plead that she had worked all the time, and done many things she was not wholly able to do, although she knew she had been less useful than formerly; but her master remained inflexible. Her very faithfulness probably operated against her now, and he found it less easy than he thought to give up the profits of his faithful Bell, who had so long done him efficient service. But Isabella inwardly determined that she would remain quietly with him only until she had spun his wool--about one hundred pounds--and then she would leave him, taking the rest of the time to herself.
Just think of us! Just think! Why, there was Charles Brodhead promised his slave Ned, that when harvesting was over, he might go and see his wife, who lived some twenty or thirty miles off. So Ned worked early and late, and as soon as the harvest was all in, he claimed the promised boon. His master said, he had merely told him he 'would see if he could go, when the harvest was over; but now he saw that he could not go. His master asked him if he intended going, and on his replying 'yes,' took up a sled-stick that lay near him, and gave him such a blow on the head as broke his skull, killing him dead on the spot.
The poor colored people all felt struck down by the blow.
Narrative of Sojourner Truth
Yet it was but one of a long series of bloody, and other most effectual blows, struck against their liberty and their lives. The subject of this narrative as to have been free Page 41 July 4, , but she continued with her master till the wool was spun, and the heaviest of the 'fall's work' closed up, when she concluded to take her freedom into her own hands, and seek her fortune in some other place.
The question in her mind, and one not easily solved, now was, 'How can I get away? Thank you, God, for that thought! As she gained the summit of a high hill, a considerable distance from her master's, the sun offended her by coming forth in all his pristine splendor. She thought it never was so light before; indeed, she thought it much too light.
She stopped to look about her, and ascertain if her pursuers were yet in sight. No one appeared, and, for the first time, the question came up for settlement, 'Where, and to whom, shall I go?
She sat down, fed her infant, and again turning her thoughts to God, her only help, she prayed him to direct her to some safe asylum. And soon it occurred to her, that there was a man living somewhere in the direction she had been pursuing, by the name of Levi Rowe, whom she had known, and who, she thought, would be likely to befriend her.
She accordingly pursued her way to his house, where she found him ready to entertain and assist her, though he was then on his death-bed. He bade her partake of the hospitalities of his house, said he knew of two good places where she might get in, and requested his wife to show her where they were to be found. As soon as she came in sight of the first house, she recollected having seen it and its inhabitants before, and instantly exclaimed, 'That's the place for me; I shall stop there.
Van Wagener, absent, but was kindly received and hospitably entertained by their excellent mother, till the return of her children. When they arrived, she made her case known to them. They listened to her story, assuring her they never turned the needy away, and willingly gave her employment. She had not been there long before her old master, Dumont, appeared, as she had anticipated; for when she took French leave of him, she resolved not to go too far from him, and not put him to as much trouble in looking her up--for the latter he was sure to do--as Tom and Jack had done when they ran away from him, a short time before.
This was very considerate in her, to say the least, and a proof that 'like begets like. When her master saw her, he said, 'Well, Bell, so you've run away from me. Isaac S. Van Wagener then interposed, saying, he had never been in the practice of buying and selling slaves; he did not believe in slavery; but, rather than have Isabella taken back by force, he would buy her services for the balance of the year--for which her master charged twenty dollars, and five in addition for the child.
The sum was paid, and her master Dumont departed; but not till he had heard Mr.
Van Wagener tell her not to call him master,--adding, 'there is but one master; and he who is your master is my master. Van Wagener, who was master to no one. With these noble people, who, though they could not be the masters of slaves, were undoubtedly a portion of God's nobility, she resided one year, and from them she derived the name of Van Wagener; he being her last master in the eye of the law, and a slave's surname is ever the same as his master; that is, if he is allowed to have any other name than Tom, Jack, or Guffin. Slaves have sometimes been severely punished for adding their master's name to their own.
But when they have no particular title to it, it is no particular offence. A little previous to Isabel's leaving her old master, he had sold her child, a boy of five years, to a Dr. Gedney, who took him with him as far as New York city, on his way to England; but finding the boy too small for his service, he sent him back to his brother, Solomon Gedney. This man disposed of him to his sister's husband, a wealthy planter, by the name of Fowler, who took him to his own home in Alabama.