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CHAPTER III.
When Mrs. Jennings awoke the next morning, her first thoughts were of Hasty, and she determined that the day should not pass over without her making another effort for Mark. Accordingly, after breakfast she ordered the carriage, intending to make a visit to Mr. Nelson's.

"Where are you going, Maggie?" inquired Mr. Jennings of his wife, as he heard her give the order.

"I am going to Mr. Nelson's about Mark," she answered.

"Why, my dear, I told you what M'Affee said, that Nelson was implacable. And besides, I am afraid he will think it impertinent in you to meddle with his affairs."

"I shall make an apology for my visit," she answered, "but I cannot rest satisfied until I hear a direct refusal from his own lips. His conduct toward Mark seems more like revenge than punishment. I do not think he can persist in it."

"Well, I give you credit for your perseverance," he said, laughingly, "but I am afraid you will come home disappointed."

"If I do," she replied, "I shall feel less conscience-stricken than if I had remained at home, knowing that I have done all in my power to prevent his going."

As Mrs. Jennings rode along she felt that she had a disagreeable duty to perform, but, like a true Christian woman, she shrunk not, but grew stronger as she approached the dwelling of the lordly oppressor, and she prayed to God for strength to be true to him and to the slave. When she arrived, she entered the house of Mr. Nelson with strong hopes, but, much to her disappointment, was informed that he had left the city, and would be absent for some weeks. Her next thought was to see his wife, if she was at home. The servant said that his mistress was at home, but doubted if she could be seen.

"Present my card to her," said Mrs. Jennings, "and say to her that I have called on business, and will detain her but a few moments if she will see me."

The servant retired with the card, and in a few moments returned, saying that Mrs. Nelson would be glad to see her in the sitting-room. When Mrs. Jennings entered the room she apologized for the intrusion to a handsome, though slightly careworn lady, who arose to receive her.

"Madame," said Mrs. Jennings, "I have called on you this morning in relation to your servant Mark. I hope you will not think it impertinent in me to interfere in this matter, but I am very much interested in him. His wife has been my laundress for several years, and is exceedingly distressed at the idea of being separated from him. She came to me yesterday, and told me that he had been impertinent, and that Mr. Nelson intended selling him down South. I promised to use what influence I had to keep him in the city. And I have called this morning to see if I could persuade Mr. Nelson to overlook this offense, pledging myself for his future good conduct, for I really think that this will be a lesson to him that he will never forget."

"I can appreciate and sympathize with your feelings." said Mrs. Nelson, "for I have myself endeavored to change my husband's determination. But he is a rigid disciplinarian, and makes it a rule never to overlook the first symptom of insubordination in any of the servants. He says if a servant is once permitted to retort, all discipline ceases, and he must be sold South. It is his rule and he never departs from it. O! I sometimes feel so sick when I see the punishments inflicted that seem necessary to keep them in subjection. But we wives can do nothing, however great our repugnance may be to it. The children have begged me to take them to see Mark before he goes. I heard from one of the servants that his owner intended starting to-morrow, so that this will be the only opportunity they will have to see him, and I think I will gratify them and let them go."

Mrs. Nelson rang the bell, and in a few moments Sally had the children ready.

"I intended to go down myself," said Mrs. Jennings, "and if you have no objections, I will take the children down in my carriage, as it is waiting at the door."

"O, I thank you, that will suit me very well," said Mrs. Nelson, "as my engagements this morning will hardly permit me to go, and I was almost afraid to trust them with any of the other servants, now that Mark has gone."

Mrs. Jennings and the children immediately entered the carriage and drove to the yard. As the carriage drew up before the door, Mr. M'Affee came out and assisted the party to alight, and on hearing the business, summoned Mark to them.

"O! Massa Eddie and Missy Bell," said he joyfully, "I'se so glad you cum to see poor Mark; I was afeard I would never see you again."

"O yes," said Eddie, "we came as soon as mamma told us about it. You see we didn't know it until yesterday, when we went out to ride, and that cross old Noah drove us, and we couldn't tell what it meant; so as soon as we came home Bell asked mother about it, and she said that you had been naughty, and papa sent you away. But I don't care; I think pa might forgive you just this once."

"Yes, so do I," broke in Bell; "pa ought to let you stay, because little Fanny won't have any father to come and see at our house, and I like her to play with me."

"I'se afeard Fanny won't play any more," said Mark sadly. "She is berry sick; de doctor said it was de scarlet fever, and the oder night, when I was up home, she was out of her head and didn't know me."

"Why, is she sick?" asked Bell; "I didn't know that; I'll ask mamma if I can't go and see her when I get home. But mamma says maybe you'll come back one of these days. Won't you, Mark?"

"No, honey, I don't ever 'spec to get back; and if I do, it will be a long, long time. It's so far down where I'se sold to, down the Arkansas river, I believe."

"Are you sold there, Mark?" inquired Mrs. Jennings.

"Yes, missus, and I don't know what'll come of poor Hasty when she knows it. She was here dis morning, and said that you had gone to Massa Nelson's, and was going to try to get me off; but I knowed how it would be; but I couldn't bar to cast her down when she was so hopeful like, so I didn't tell her I was sold. O Missus Jennings! do please comfort de poor soul, she's so sick and weak, she can hardly bar up. I used to give her all the arnings I got from people, but I can't give her any more. O Lord! it comes nigh breakin' me down when I think of it," said Mark, the big tears coursing down his face.

"Don't cry, Mark," said little Bell, "Eddie and I will save up our money, and by the time we are big, we'll have enough to buy you; then I'll send Eddie down to bring you home."

"Yes," said Eddie, "and mamma will give us many a picayune, when we tell her what it's for."

Mrs. Jennings had been an interested spectator of the scene, and would have remained longer with Mark, to comfort him; but as it was after the dinner hour, she feared Mrs. Nelson would be anxious about the children, so she told them it was time to go, and that they must part with Mark.

"Well, Mark, if we must go," said the children, throwing their arms around his neck, "Good by."

"Good by, dear children," he said, "and please be kind to my poor little
Fanny, that will soon have no father."

"We will," they answered, as they sadly passed from the yard.



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