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eyes, he went out to hunt up old Nep to share his grief; but he soon
returned, and locking the door after him, proceeded to fasten every
window in the house.

Sea-flower, who was bathing her mother's temples, observing what the
negro was about, was at a loss to account for his movements; but knowing
he disliked to be questioned upon points touching his judgment, she
humored him by letting him have his own way, till finally, he peered
into his mistress's face, and in a voice scarcely above a whisper, said,
"Dar, missy, de rest ob us am safe! he no cotch any more dis time!"

"What is it? Vingo, what has happened?"

"Ah, little missy, if I wasn't clean gone tuck! 'pears like I never
shall get ober it."

"What is the matter, Vingo?"

"Well, missy Sea-flower, I tinks it am de ebil one dat has taken dem
away, after all; for dat dog neber go 'way peaceably wid anyting short
ob de debil; he got too much de spirit ob his massa to be afeard ob
anyting dat belong on dis earth!"

"Is Neptune gone, too, Vingo?"

"Yes, missy, dar not eben a shadow left ob him; and, [the negro had a
remarkable imagination], 'pears like I see de print ob a cloben tread in
de soft ground, by his door; and among de hay de old fellow hab lef some
ob his plunder trough mistake."

Sea-flower hastened to the dog's kennel, and there indeed was a small
parcel, folded neatly in white paper, but no trace of the dog was to be
seen; opening the package, there was a small locket, containing the
likeness of her mother and herself, which had been left upon the parlor
table, but how it came in the dog's kennel was a mystery.

"Oh, our faithful Neptune! how much we shall miss him! It must be that
he has gone with his master; but perhaps it is all for the best."

"I tinks eberyting should be ob de best for you, missy; 'pears like if
my poor old Phillis could get used to de tribilations, like you do, it
help to make de road easier; but I specks she neber learn how."

"O, Vingo, it makes my heart bleed to think that your people have no
opportunities for learning that they may cast their burdens on the Lord.
I cannot imagine anything more dreadful than the ignorance in which the
slaves are kept."

"Yes, missy, I neber remembers much about it till I leabes old Berginny;
some how or oder, I finds out dat old massa's people hab a God, but I
neber 'spect he know anyting 'bout poor black man."

Days and months passed on, as the lonely days of sorrow do come, and go,
and come again; but as the lengthened shades of the summer solstice had
again become less, another cloud had arisen in the firmament of mingled
joys and sorrows, threatening to encompass even the bright rays of hope
within its gloom.

Mrs. Grosvenor had written her husband of the conduct of their truant
son, as Harry had wished, and had in reply received his full forgiveness
for the boy. Captain Grosvenor had written that he much regretted not
having taken Harry along with him, "for," said he, "a second thought
would have convinced me that the boy had too much of the spirit of his
father to remain contentedly on shore; he has but followed in my
footsteps, for I never shall forget the night I stole away from my
father's house, when I was but ten years old, and went to sea. Yes, tell
my boy that I forgive him, yet it annoys me very much that you and our
dear Natalie are left alone, my wife; but at the rate we have been
doing, it will not be long before we shall be homeward bound."

Nearly a twelvemonth had passed since this letter had been received; not
a word had been heard of the Tantalizer for a long time; several ships
had returned which had left since she had sailed, but they had brought
no tidings of her. Over a year had passed since she was last reported,
and her owners began to look doubtful in regard to her fate; and there
were rumors that the Tantalizer was counted among the missing vessels,
yet no one dared to breathe the thought to the still hoping family,
while there was the least possibility that she might be heard from
again; and who would wish to be the first to pronounce that gentle wife
a widow? Darker and still deeper grew the overshadowing cloud, and the
hopes of the trusting ones less. Mrs. Grosvenor would sit for whole days
brooding over her sorrows, clinging to the last ray of hope, with
almost the insanity of hope; but the last spark finally went out, never
again to be rekindled. The untiring wheels of time still went their
rounds, and everything moved on, as if there were no hearts beating in
discordant measure to the joyous song of nature. Sympathizing friends
pitied the afflicted, and the world read, - "A noble ship lost at sea!
all on board supposed to have perished! Ship and cargo valued at thirty
thousand dollars; no insurance!" and they exclaim, - "ah, the sailor's
life is indeed hard!" But they dwell upon the latter clause of the
paragraph with as much real pity, the words fall upon their ear,
conveying as much of real sadness to their minds, as that many families
have been called to mourn the loss of one of their members. The
Sea-flower could hardly become reconciled to the thought that she would
never see her father more, yet for her mother's sake she suppressed her
grief, endeavoring to soothe her weary spirits by those refreshing
promises of Him who dries the mourner's tear, - binding up the wounds of
the broken-hearted.

"Dear mother, we are called upon to bear a heavy trial; this is indeed
a bitter, bitter draught, yet we must not forget 'tis our Father holds
the cup. You have taught me to smile upon his chastening rod, but in
this dark hour of trial truly the flesh is weak; yet we will rest upon
the strength of His arm, He will not forsake us; and, mother, His ways
indeed are higher than our ways. How tenderly has he dealt with us,
inasmuch as he has so ordered that our dear Harry should be spared to
us; for as I look upon the past, I can see nothing but the kindly
interference of his will, that my brother did not share the same grave
with his father."

"My darling, your precious words shed light over my weary pathway. I
fear that I have sinned in thus murmuring at God's will, for I would not
see his loving kindness in sparing to me my boy. But it is so very
hard, - so dreadful, - that in that hour when his spirit winged its way to
that better land, we might not pause from our worldly pursuits, turning
our eyes heavenward; craving strength to bear our cross; but your words
of love, my child, remind me of that Being who is the fountain-head of
loveliness, and I thank God for his gift of you."

"If I am a comfort to you, mother, it is through your influence, for
you have taught me to walk in the paths of virtue."

"True, I have pointed out to you the ways of righteousness, but when you
looked upon that bright river of life, I observed that its waters were
no less tranquil, and mirrored upon its bosom was one more shining star;
and it has been increasing in magnitude, till now its radiance illumes
even the bright river itself."

So did the Sea-flower gather together the broken threads of this family,
weaving them closer with that golden thread of tender remembrance of him
who had gone to await them for a little in that happier home above; this
family, of which she had never the slightest suspicion but that they
were of her own flesh and blood; and as she sat with her hand clasped
within that of her mother's, reading from that blessed book, "Come unto
me all ye that are weary," Mrs. Grosvenor could not but notice the
striking resemblance which she bore to those lovely features of the
miniature, which was found within the golden band. The child was growing
to resemble her unknown mother, and were there any who had ever known
the parents, to see their child, they could not but have discovered her
descent. As the thought came to Mrs. Grosvenor's mind, she shuddered;
and she asked herself if it could ever be that her darling should be
torn from her? if another cloud would arise, hiding one more cherished
one from her sight? But why should she tremble at the thought? she well
knew there could be nothing, not even the discovery of relatives, which
could lessen her daughter's love for her mother. Not a word had ever
been said to the child in regard to her mysterious parentage. Captain
Grosvenor had thought it best not to reveal the fact until she should
have become of a suitable age to fully realize her situation. Those who
had known the circumstances of her discovery, had gradually come to look
upon her as the child of those who treasured her as if she had been
their own; and the playmates of her childhood days had never mistrusted
there was a mystery hanging about her "romantic" name, - Sea-flower.
Harry, indeed, had never forgotten his delight at having a new sister;
and as they had grown up together, he had often looked into her dreamy
eyes, and thought, "How unlike she is to any one else; she is too good
to be my sister;" and as the reality came to him, he had banished the
remembrance, ere it had taken to itself a form. The original Vingo had
never lost sight of "that commentful" day, as he termed it; not a day
passed but he made some allusion to "dat wee gem among de sea-weeds,"
and the Sea-flower would open wide her eyes, as from his wild laugh she
caught his broken sentences, and would wonder why the negro's words
should meet with such a response within her own bosom. The child's
dress, together with the ornaments which had been found upon her, had
been laid carefully away, reserved until she should have become familiar
with her history. But Mrs. Grosvenor, since the loss of her husband, had
weighed the question in her mind, whether she should still keep the
secret from her, for the child's mind was much beyond her years, and she
questioned whether it would be for the best to permit her to grow to
maturer years thus undeceived; but she reflected that such had been the
design of her husband, and, therefore, for the present, the subject was
dismissed from her mind.

It was the close of the third year in which Harry had been from home.
Mrs. Grosvenor had received four letters from him in that time. His
last had stated they were doing well, that he was under one of the
kindest of captains, and all that was wanting to make him perfectly
happy, was to see his dear mother, and the rest of the family once more.
Poor boy, he little thought that there was one of its members whom he
would never see again, until he had passed over that sea from which no
navigator ever returns! Harry had never written his mother of the brutal
treatment which he had received from his first captain, but he had said
that Neptune had been the means of saving his life, and that the old
fellow was getting to be quite a sailor, inasmuch as he could take a
turn on the quarter-deck with as much dignity as the captain himself. It
had been some time since Harry's last letter had been received, and now
Mrs. Grosvenor was anxiously looking for news from him, with a state of
mind prepared for receiving almost anything, so fraught with sad events
had been the last few years, when one day Vingo was seen far down the
street, coaxing his time-wearied limbs into a run, and bursting into the
room, he stood panting in the middle of the floor, grinning with
delight, and holding at arm's length a letter, which Mrs. Grosvenor
recognized as coming from her son. The Sea-flower read the letter aloud,
and when Vingo learned that massa Harry was homeward bound, he could
contain himself no longer; it seemed as if he would go beside himself at
the thought of having his young massa home once more, for everything had
appeared so different since he went away; there had been so many
changes, that the fellow had really had his fears that it might be his
turn next to be taken off, and he had often had visions of his old slave
massa in nearer proximity than was at all consistent with his ideas
of liberty.

"De good Lord be praised!" exclaimed the negro, as Sea-flower ceased
reading; "dis am too good news for old black man live me! but I knew de
bright sunshine not be contented to stay away from missy Sea-flower
long. I tinks missy get along better widout him, dan he can widout her;
but dar am some poor souls dat neber sees de shine, making dem feel as
full ob sing as a camp-meeting!" and the negro gave a deep sigh at the
remembrance of his poor old Phillis, who was, for aught he knew, still
wearing the accursed yoke of slavery.

"Poor things! poor things!" sighed the Sea-flower; "I would willingly
share with them my joys, were it in my power. Theirs would be a lighter
burden to those who have learned of that glorious home, where the
resplendent shining of its bright ones is forever! But they, alas, have
no bright future to look forward to, giving them renewed strength to
bear their cross; or if they ever hear of that All-Father who hears the
cry of the most wretched of his children, their masters would have them
believe that he is but the white man's God! Oh, Vingo, how could you
have had the heart to believe that God would disown his children?"

"Dunno, missy; but 'pears like de slabe jus' no more chilen dan de oder
animals; and I tinks old massa done teach de hounds about de big bible,
sooner dan he niggers."

"What became of your wife, Vingo, when father took you away? Could you
not prevail on your master to let her come with you?"

"O, missy, old Bingo hoe in de cotton field great many long years since
he sot eyes on poor, torn-down Phillis, or the young uns."

"The little ones! and had you some children, Vingo?"

"Ah! if I known how to praise de good Lord in dem days, I specks I
shouted for joy, when I see de wee creters burstin' wid de laugh; and
Phillis, she clean tuck ober, to see them fist each oder wid dar little
feet, 'pearing like dey hab inherit all de peruigilinations ob dar
daddy; and den de little creters change dar minds, and burst into de
smiles again. O, dem was happy days! and I and Phillis tink we just de
pleasantest creters in de whole ob Berginny; and we takes de young uns
out wid us to de cotton field, and after dey gets use to de hot sun in
dar eyes, dey crawl round on de ground, snatchin' up de bits ob cotton,
like dey hab been use to it all dar days; and we not mind it much if old
oberseer did gib us a lash ober de head, 'casionally, when we stops to
cotch a bref, long as we habs de young uns to lift us up a bit. But dem
days not stay long, for one day dar come a fierce looking man, from way
down in Kentuck, and as he went ober de plantation, I oberhears him
saying to massa, dat he must hab just de smartest, good-looking niggars
dat could be scared up, for dar was one ob de richest men in Kentuck dat
was willing to pay any price for dem; but dey must be made ob de right
material, for he worked his niggars, and cut dem up so, dat he hab to
get in a fresh supply ebery now and den. Dat was death-blow to me, for I
knew my Phillis was considered de smartest, best looking gal on de
plantation; for many a time I hear massa say, dat gal worth a dozen
common ones, and he spoke de truth for once, for I knows dar neber was
anoder like her. Well, I tells Phillis dat night what I hears, and I
tells her to jus slack off a little, and put on her worst look when de
man come round next day, and perhaps dey oberlook her; but 'pears like
we didn't get much comfort from dat, and all night long we keeps awake,
for we couldn't help tinking dat might be de last time we eber see each
oder again; for we neber hear ob de good place den, where we might meet
when slabe massa get trough wid us. De next morning, afore de broke ob
day, massa and de trader comes round to our cabin, and seeing Phillis at
de door, putting de young uns to rights, and clarin' up a little, 'fore
we goes out to de field, de fierce man cracked his whip, and jumping
ober de young uns, caught Phillis by de arm, and whirling her round and
round, called out, 'I say, mister, dis ere's de likelist critter I've
sot eyes on dis many a day! I must hab dis one at any price!, Old
Killall be good-natured a month, when he sees dis handsome critter; but
if he don't use her up in less dan dat time, he'll do what he neber done
afore! I tell you, sar, it's surprisin' to see how much work he'll get
out ob his niggars; goes ahead ob anyting you eber heard ob; dat's de
way he's made such a power ob money. He says he's tried it faithfully,
year in and year out, and he's thoroughly convinced dat de way to make
anyting by dis niggar business, is to get de work; if dey wont work
widout de whip, why, put it on! get dar steam up some way or oder, and
when one lot gibs out, get a fresh stock! I'll tell you what, sir,
Killall understands it; he'll sell dar hides for shoe leather radder dan
let his niggars stand idle!' When I hear dat, missy, my bery blood boil,
and 'pears like I couldn't keep my hands off from de villain; but I know
dat if I make any resistance, it fare all de worse wid Phillis, and I
get sent to de whippin'-place, into de bargain; so I only grind my
teeth, and look on, like I didn't know any better; but, missy, didn't I
wish I white man den, jus' for de sake ob sabin' my wife and young uns?
for I lib wid Phillis so long I couldn't help feeling 'tached to her.
Ole massa, he not 'pear to like de idea ob parting wid Phillis jus den,
for he know right well dat he not get anoder like her bery soon, and so
he tells de trader dat de niggar 'pear bery well, but as for de real
work, he got a dozen dat go ahead ob her, and if de gemman want de real
workin' niggar, dey step round de oder side de plantation; but de
trader, he keep his eye on Phillis, like he understand de business too
well to be put off dat way, and he say to massa, tell you what 'tis,
mister, dat gal may not hab de genuine work 'bout her now, but if she
get tinder old Killall's lash, dar be no trouble bout dat, and den when
she good for notin' else, after de work all out ob her, she might keep a
little ob her looks, 'nough to make her go for a hundred or so. But
massa, he not like to gib her up, and dey talk a long time togeder, and
I hears de trader say, - 'de gal should square off all de old affair, wid
five hundred to boot;' till by and by massa gibs in, and de bargain was
closed, bery much to de satisfaction ob both parties. But dey not stop
to ask how we like de idea ob being separated for life! dey not tink
dat perhaps de mother find it hard to leabe her chil'en. De trader 'pear
bery much pleased wid his bargain, and he slipped a cord round Phillis's
arm, and tell her to go wid him. O, missy, dat was de awfullest minute
in my life! Poor Phillis look at de chil'en, den at me, and wid one
long, piercing shriek, dat I hear many times since, she clung round my
neck, begging me to go wid her, to sabe her from de dreadful place where
dey would take her! But afore I could say one word, the trader, wid a
dreadful curse, seize her by de throat, and in his hurry to get her
away, stumbled ober one ob de young uns wid his great heaby boots, dat
was made 'spressly to kick de fractious niggars, as he called it, and de
chile neber breathe again! he had step clean on to its neck, strangling
it in an instant! At de sight ob her chile, all bleedin', and still,
poor Phillis become all quiet, and her eyes were shut, just like good
missus, when she find massa Harry take hesef away. Ole massa he 'pear
rather sober like, when he find one ob his niggars killed, for he sot a
heap on de young uns dat was comin' up, 'cause dey be big enough soon to
be ob some 'count; but de trader hand ober fifty dollar bill, to make
de accident good, and took de opportunity to get away, 'fore Phillis
come to again; but dey not say any ting to me 'bout my loss, and 'pears
like dey could not cober de great break in my heart, wid all de fifty
dollar bills in Berginny. Dat was de last time I eber sees my Phillis. I
specks by dis time dey hab got de work all out ob her, and I hopes dey
hab, missy; for though she neber hear ob dat place where all are made
bright, I know she good enough to find de way; but I hopes she not be
too full ob shine, coz I fraid I not know her from de white folks."

"I hope you will meet her there, indeed, Vingo: for after such a
separation here, how great will be your joy. I feel assured that the
poor down-trodden negro will not be in that day forgotten; the dreadful
curse which hangs over your race will then be explained, and I fear
there will be many called to an account for the wrongs which they have
done their fellow-men. But what became of your child, Vingo? Did you not
feel grateful that one of your dear ones was spared to you?"

"Ah, missy, I tinks dar no place for gratitude in de slabe's heart; and
sometimes I specks I neber hab a heart, till missy Sea-flower spare me
a part ob hers. Well, after Phillis and de young un tuck away, 'pears
like I neber look up any more; and if it not for de little Phillis dat
was left, I tink I clean gib up. I takes her wid me to de cotton field,
and she lay and look at me all day long, so strange like, as if she want
to know why we dar all alone; and at night I feed her wid de corn-cake,
like her poor mammy used to do, and at eb'ry mouthful she look up in my
face, den at de door, to see if its mammy not comin'. After a while I
gets a little used to de ache, which I hab since Phillis tuck away, and
all de time I not at work in de field, I takes care ob de young un, to
keep from hearing dat awful shriek, when one mornin' I wakes up, and de
little Phillis nowhar' to be seen, and I's neber seen her since, missy."

"They could not surely have robbed you of your only comfort! O, how
dreadful!"

"Yes, missy; I inquires all round if dey see anyting ob my Phillis, but
I gets only a laugh from one, and a curse from anoder; for eben de slabe
get so used to de hard treatment ob dar massa, dat dey sometimes show de
same spirit towards dar fellows, specially if dey happens to be clean
tuck down wid the 'blue imps,' as dey calls it. At last I asks a poor,
broken-down ting, dat hab all her young uns sold away from her only a
day or two afore, if she know anyting 'bout my young un, and she tells
me dar hab been a sale ob a dozen young uns, on de plantation, and she
sees massa, long afore day-broke, pack dem into a wagon, and dey carried
off. I knows den it no use to look for her any longer, and de more I
grows to look down, 'pears like de more dey laughs at me, and dey calls
me 'dat moon-hit niggar.' I gets so stupid after a while, dat massa
threatens to sell me way down whar dey works de niggars up; and I gets
so, I don't care how much dey whips me, or anyting else, for I tinks I
neber be mysef again, when one day massa takes me wid him down to de
boats, to fotch de cotton, and I hears de captain ask, what ail dat
fellow to look so blue, and massa tells him, I got a notion dat I hab a
right to keep my wife and young uns, like I hab de feelin's ob white
folks. Den de captain talk wid massa 'bout buyin' me, and I got to be
such a torn-down critter, massa glad to let me go for most anyting, for
de sake ob gettin' rid ob me. When de bargain struck, my new masa
Grobener claps me on de shoulder, and says, 'now, my man, come wid me,
and see if we can't gib a better 'plexion to matters.' Dem was de first
kind words I eber hears from de white man, and after dat I springs right
up, like de wilted roses missy brought to life de oder day; and when de
Sea-flower come to us, I tink she sent to smooth ober de rough places,
dat hab been gathering trough de long years ob my life in slabery."

"Yours is a sad history, Vingo, and I am happy if I have helped to make
your pathway pleasanter; but do not look upon your life in slavery as
having been unprofitably spent, for the very darkness through which you
have come, serves to make brighter that glorious light which is now shed
o'er your way. Your sad tale has impressed me with renewed gratitude to
our Father for his mercies towards me; and while I thank him for the
many blessings which I have received from his hand, my heart shall also
praise him that with these joys have been mingled, - the purifying light
of his chastening love."




CHAPTER VII.


NATALIE.


"If ever angels walked this weary earth
In human likeness, thou wert one of them."

ANONYMOUS.


"'Mid pleasures and palaces, where'er we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home;
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there
Which, seek through the world, is ne'er met with elsewhere."

MOORE.


"Sampson, Mr. Sampson! just step this way, and bring your eye to bear a
little to the nothe-nothe-east, and tell me what you make."


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