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can sabe yer fifty dollars, shoo-er-r-r, Kunnle Delancy Hyde, if you 'll do as how dis nigger tells yer to.”
“ How 'll yer do it, Peek ?” asked the Colonel, much pacified by the slave's repetition of his entire name and title.
“I'll promise to be a good nigger all the way to Cincinnati, and not try to run away, — no, not wunst, — if you twenty-five dollars."
“Will yer sign to that, Peek, and put in, 'So help me Gawd'?” asked the Colonel.
Peek started, and looked sharply at Hyde ; and then quietly replied, “ Yes, I 'll do it, if you 'll gib me the money to do with as I choose ; but you must agree to le'm me write a letter, and put it in the post-office afore we leeb.”
The Colonel considered the matter a moment, then turned to Charlton, and said, “ Draw up an agreement, and let the nigger sign it, and be sure and put in, “ So help me Gawd.'”
The arrangement was speedily concluded. The witnesses and the officers were paid off. Charlton received his fifty dollars and Peek his twenty-five. The slave then asked for pen, ink, and paper, and placed five cents on the table as payment. In two minutes he finished a letter to Flora, and enclosed it with the money in an envelope, on which he wrote an address. Charlton tried hard to get a sight of it, but Peek did not give him a chance to do this.
The Colonel and Peek then walked to the post-office, where the slave deposited his letter; after which they passed over to Jersey City in the ferry-boat, and took the train to Philadelphia.
As for Charlton, no sooner had his company left him, than he seized his hat, locked up his office, and hurried to Greenwich Street, where he proceeded to examine the lodgings vacated by Peek. He found Mrs. Petticum engaged in collecting into baskets the various articles abandoned to her by the negroes, ---old dusters, a hod of charcoal, kindling-wood, loaves of bread, and small collections of groceries, sufficient for the family for a week. Mrs. Petticum appeared to have been weeping, for she raised her apron and wiped her eyes as Charlton came in.
Well, have they gone?” asked he.
Yes, sir, and the wuss for me!” said the old woman. Charlton took his cue at once, and replied : “ They were excellent people, and I'm sorry they've gone. What was the matter? Were the slave-catchers after them ? "
“I don't know,” sighed Petticum ; “I should n't wonder. Poor Flora! That was all she worried about. I'd like to have got my hands in the hair of the man that would have carried her off. Where 'll you find the white folks better and decenter than they was ? ”
"Not in New York, ma'am,” said Charlton, stealthily looking about the room, examining every article of furniture, and opening the drawers.
“ The furniture belongs to Mr. Craig; but all in the drawers is mine," said the old woman, not favorably impressed by Charlton's inquisitiveness.
“O, it's all right,” replied Charlton ; “ I did n't know but I could be of some help. You've no idea where they went to ?”
They did n't tell me, and if I knowed, I should n't tell you, without I knowed they wanted me to.”
“O, it's no sort of consequence. I’m a particular friend, that's all,” said Charlton. “ Did you notice the carriage they went off in ?”
“Yes, I did.”
Seeing an old handkerchief in one of the baskets, Charlton took it out, and looked at the mark. He could get nothing from that; so he threw it back. An old shoe lay swept in a corner. He took it up. Stamped on the inner sole were the words, “ J. Darling, Ladies' Shoes, Vicksburg.” Charlton copied the inscription in his memorandum-book before putting the shoe back where he had found it. The Sun newspaper lay on the floor. Taking it up, he found that an advertisement had been cut out. Selecting an opportunity when Mrs. Petticum was not looking, he thrust the paper in his pocket.
And then, after examining an old stove-funnel, he went out.
“ He's no gentleman, anyhow," said Mrs. Petticum ; " and I don't believe he ever was a friend of the Jacobses.”
GROUPS ON THE DECK.
"Incredulity is but Credulity seen from behind, bowing and nodding assent to the Habitual and the Fashionable.” — - Coleridge.
\HE Pontiac had passed New Madrid on the Mississippi.
She was advertised as a first-class high-pressure boat, bound to beat any other on the river in the long run, but with a captain and officers who were “teetotalers,” and never raced.
The weather had been stormy for several days; but it was now a delightful April forenoon. The sun-bright atmosphere was at once fresh and soft, exhilarating and luxurious, in a combination one rarely enjoys so fully as on a Western prairie. The delicate spring tracery of the foliage was fast expanding into a richer exuberance on either bank of the great river. The dogwood, with its blossoms of an alabaster whiteness, here and there gleamed forth amid the tender green of the surrounding trees, - maples, sycamores, and oaks.
All at once a magnolia sent forth a gush of fragrance from its snowy flowers. With every mile southward the verdure grew thicker and the blossoms larger.
Two miles in the rear of the Pontiac, ploughing up the tawny waters with her sharp and pointed beak, came the Champion, a new boat, and destined, as many believed, to prove the fastest on the river, Whatever her capacities, she had thus far shown herself inferior to the Pontiac in speed. She kept within two or three miles, but failed to get much nearer. Captain Crane of the Pontiac, a small, thin, wiry man, who had acquired a great reputation for sagacity by always holding his tongue, kept puffing away at a cigar, looking now and then anxiously at his rival, but evidently happy in the assurance of victory. The passengers of the Pontiac were distributed in
about different parts of the boat. Some were in the cabin playing at euchre or brag. Some, regardless of the delicious atmosphere which they could drink in without money and without price, were imbibing fiery liquors at the bar, or puffing away at bad cigars on the forward part of the lower deck.
A few were reading, and here and there a lady might be seen busy with her needle.
On the hurricane deck were those who had come up for conversation or a promenade. Smokers were requested to keep below. The groups here were rather more select and less numerous than on the main deck. They were mostly gathered aft, so that the few promenaders could have a clear space.
Among these last were a lady and two gentlemen, one on either side of her; the younger, a man apparently about thirty-two, of middle height, finely formed, handsome, and with the quiet, unarrogating air of one whose nobility is a part of his nature, not a question of convention. (The snob’s nonchalance is always spurious. He hopes to make you think he is unconscious of your existence, and all the while is anxiously trying to dazzle or stun you by his appearance.)
The other gentleman was also one to whom that muchabused name would be unhesitatingly applied. He seemed to be about fifty-five, with a person approaching the portly, dignified, gray-haired, and his face indicating benevolence and selfcontrol.
The lady, who appeared to be the wife of the younger man, was half a head shorter than he, and a model of delicate beauty in union with high health. Personally of a figure and carriage which Art and Grace could hardly improve, she was dressed in a simple gray travelling-habit, with a velvet hat and ostrich-plumes of the same color. But she had the rare skill of making simplicity a charm. Flounces, jewels, and laces vould have been an impertinence. While she conversed, she seemed to take a special interest in a group that occupied two “ patent life-preserving stools near the centre of the deck. A young boy held in his lap a little girl, seemingly not more than two years old, and pointed out pictures to her from a book, while a mulatto woman, addressed as Hattie, who appeared to have the infant in charge, joined in their juvenile prattle, and placed her arm so as to assist the boy in securing his hold.
“ Your son seems to know how to fascinate children,” said the lady, addressing the elder gentleman ; "he has evidently won the heart of my little Clara.”.
“ He has a sister just about her age in Texas,” replied the father ; “he is glad to find in your little girl a substitute for Emily.”
“ You live in Texas then?” asked the younger gentleman.
“ Yes ; let me introduce myself, since I was the first to broach conversation. My name is John Onslow, and my home is in Southwestern Texas, though I was born in Mississippi, whence I removed some six or seven years ago. My family consists of a wife, two sons, and a daughter. The younger of my sons, Robert, sits yonder. The elder, William Temple, is a student at Yale. I inherited several hundred slaves. I have gradually liberated them all. In Texas I am trying the experiment of free labor; but it is regarded with dislike by my slaveholding neighbors, and they do not scruple, behind my back, to call me an Abolitionist. I have been North to buy farming implements, and to offer inducements to German immigrants. There, sir, you have my story; and if you are a Yankee, you will appreciate my candor.”
“ And requite it, I suppose you think,” returned the younger gentleman, laughing." It strikes me that it is you, Mr. Onslow, who are playing the Yankee. You have been talking, sir, with one Henry Berwick, New Yorker by birth, retired lawyer by profession, and now on his way to New Orleans to attend to some real estate belonging to his wife. That little girl is his daughter. This lady is his wife. My dear, this is our fellowpassenger,
Mr. Onslow. Allow me to introduce him to your better acquaintance."
The lady courtesied, flashing upon the stranger a smile that said as eloquently as smile could say, "I need no vouchers; I flatter myself I can distinguish a gentleman.”
As she turned aside her glance it met that of a third person, till then unnoticed. He was pacing the deck and held an operaglass in his hand, with which he looked at places on either bank. He was slightly above the middle height, compactly built, yet rather slender than stout, erect, square-shouldered, neatly limbed. He might be anywhere between thirty and