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首页 » 儿童英文小说 » A Child's Anti-Slavery Book » PREFACE. CHAPTER I.
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PREFACE. CHAPTER I.
The facts narrated in the following pages occurred in St. Louis a few years ago. They were communicated to the author by a friend residing temporarily in that city.
MARK AND HASTY.
CHAPTER I.

On a bright and pleasant morning in the month of November, Mrs. Jennings and her children were sitting in one of the bedrooms of a handsome dwelling in St. Louis. It was evident that preparations were being made for a long journey. Two large trunks, strapped and corded, stood in the center of the room, while folded and unfolded articles of clothing lay in confusion on the floor and chairs.

"Katy," said Mrs. Jennings to a colored girl, who had just entered the room, "I wish you would bring in the other trunk, so that it will be ready for the children's clothes when Hasty comes."

"Yes, missus," said Kate, and then, as she was leaving the room, she turned and said: "There's Hasty comin' in de gate, though she aint got de clothes wid her; 'pears to me she looks awful sorrowful."

"Why, Hasty, what is the matter?" inquired Mrs. Jennings, as a pretty, but sad-looking mulatto woman made her appearance at the door.

"O missus!" she said, "you must please 'scuse me, kase I hasn't de clothes done; but I'se been so nigh distracted dis week, dat I aint had heart nor strength to do anything. My husband has been sold down South, and I specs I'll never see him again if he once get down dar, kase dey never gets back."

"Why, how did that happen, Hasty?" asked Mrs. Jennings. "Mark has always been such a trusty servant, and has lived so long in the family, that I thought nothing would have induced Mr. Nelson to part with him."

"Yes, missus, I knows all dat. Mark has been the faithfulest sarvant dat his massa ever had. But ye see, on Saturday night when he cum down to see me, little Fanny was berry sick, and I had been out washin' all day, and Mark wanted me to go to bed, but I didn't; and we both sat up all night wid de chile. Well, early de next morning he started for his massa's, and got dere about church time, kase he had a good piece to walk. Den he hauled out de carriage, and fed de horses, and while dey was eatin', de poor crittur fell asleep. And after bit, Massa Nelson got mighty uneasy, kase he had to wait for de carriage, so he sent one of de men out to see whar Mark was; and dey found him asleep and went in and told his massa. Den he sent for Mark to cum into de parlor, and when he went in Massa Nelson axed him what right had he to go sleep, when it was time for de carriage to be round. And Mark said dat his chile had been sick, and he had sat up all night wid it, and dat was what made him so sleepy. Den Massa Nelson said he had no right to sit up, if it was gwine to interfere wid his work. And Mark stood right up and looked Massa Nelson in de face, and said: 'Massa Nelson, I think I hab as much right to sit up wid my sick chile, as you had to sit up de other night wid little Massa Eddie.' O my sakes alive! but Massa Nelson was mad den; he said: 'You, you black nigger, dare to talk to me about rights;' and he struck Mark over de face wid de big carriage whip, and said 'he'd 'tend to him in de mornin'.'"

"And did Mark say nothing more than that?" inquired Mrs. Jennings; thinking that Hasty, like any other wife, would endeavor to hide her husband's faults.

"No, missus, dat was every ting he said, and just went away and got de carriage round for Massa Nelson to go to church. Well, de next mornin' Massa Nelson told him to put on his coat and follow him, and he toted him down to old M'Affee's pen, and sold him to go down some river way down South; and I have cum dis mornin'," she said, looking up inquiringly into Mrs. Jennings's face, "to see if you, Missus, or Massa Jennings, wouldn't do something for him."

"Well, Hasty, I'm sorry, very sorry for you," said Mrs. Jennings; "but don't be down-hearted; I will postpone going East this week, and see what can be done for you; and if my husband can't buy Mark, he probably knows some one who wants a trusty servant, such as I know Mark to be. However, Hasty, you may be assured that I will do all in my power to prevent your husband from going."

Hasty dried her tears, and with many thanks took her departure, feeling much comforted by the confident tone with which Mrs. Jennings spoke.

After Hasty had gone, Mrs. Jennings pondered, as she had never before done, on the evil effects of slavery. She thought of Hasty's grief, as poignant as would have been her own, had her husband been in Mark's place, and which had changed that usually bright countenance to one haggard with suffering. She thought of the father torn from his wife and child; of the child fatherless, though not an orphan; of that child's future; and as it presented itself to her, she clasped her own little girl closer to her heart, almost fearing that it was to share that future. Ah! she was putting her "soul in the slave soul's stead."


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