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A Visit to Alexandria
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Alias, William Chubbee, Son of the Head Chief, Mosholch Tubbee of the Choctaw Nation of Indians
I have no way of knowing if this book is truth or fiction, we present here for you to make your own conclusion.
A visit to Alexandria – Thrilling Interview with the Indians
I was one day walking the streets of New Orleans, when Mrs. Russell accosted me, saying how do you do sir? I think I know you, I replied probably you do madam. She then said do you remember once telling a man that God would punish him for his cruel treatment to you? I answered perfectly well. She said my words had proved too true, and said she was his wife; after telling me her husband died, went on to say to me that she was in distress, and had not eat anything in three days, and begged me to lend her some money, to buy something to eat, and tell her where I lived. I had some $10 in my jacket, and immediately gave her $5 50 and 26 cents to the child that was with her. After this she came to the house where I lived, and offered to return my money, but I looked at her feet, and saw that she was partly barefooted, and I gave her $2.50 to buy her another pair of shoes, for which she thanked me very kindly. My heart was full with sorrow for her; I could not nor would not take anything from her, but gave her my well wishes, and advised her to change her course. She gave me a full history of the rascality that had been practiced against me. Upon her promising to reform I gave her the rent of my house free for three months. She soon became industrious, and by her labors was enabled to sustain herself. Having to repair my house, she left, and I have not heard from her since.
My friends took me away from Russell, home with them, where I remained until I revived, and any who offered to take me home with them, became afraid of them. I saw the future in the past, as I visited from place to place, among my friends; I was secretly devising a plan to visit some of the Indian tribes. An opportunity soon offered. One day 1 walked down to the river, and found Steam Boats from every part of the great valley of the Mississippi. The captain of one of them, bound to Red River, who knowing I was unprotected, without employment, asked how I would like a trip to Alexandria, saying he thought it would improve my health and spirits. I told him if I could pay my expenses I would gladly go. I was soon on board, and the boat soon under way. Before we reached the place of destination, I frankly told the Captain my belief respecting my birth, and that I did not wish to return, but rather to remain in that country to visit some of the Indian villages he willingly permitted me to stay and promised to say nothing on his return respecting my retreat. I here felt reassured, and though I had no friends present, it was a comfort to know I had no enemies. I soon obtained sundry small jobs, which paid for my board, and something beside. I did not wish to enter into steady employment, as I intended the first opportunity to visit the Indians.
Perhaps I should have stated that I had seen Indians frequently in Natchez, but soon learned that when any of them came to town I was carefully and closely watched. It appears that someone always gave the necessary information to whoever I lived with, saying 1 had threatened to run away with them. Permit me to describe my feelings the first time I ever saw Indians. I had just stepped out of a door into the street as they were coming down the street; they were walking slowly, seeming to be looking at the buildings; I appeared nailed to the spot, my heart leaped with joy, yet a choking sensation amounting to pain seized me; confused ideas crowded upon my mind; they were near me, yet I moved not, until the keen eyes of one of them rested upon me; he spoke, the eyes of the whole company turned upon me, and then upon each other, while as it seemed to me they uttered an exclamation of surprise; they came towards me, I was wild with delight, I thought I was their child, that they were seeking for me; I started and held out my hands, tears gushed from my eyes, I addressed them in a language to me unknown before, it was neither English, Spanish, or French; astonished, they spoke kind to me, smoothing my hair with their hands; an explanation now took place as one could speak English; he said I had asked in Choctaw for my father, saying that he had gone and left me, and I was with bad people; that I begged to know if he was not with them; they then asked for my mother, this pained me; I told them she was not my mother; they looked at each other, spoke faster and louder, and looked very angry; there had a crowd of children and men and women gathered; the Indians loudly asked where and to whom does this child belong? Some one answered to a colored woman. The clouds seemed to grow darker on their way, yet to me sweet fact, the same one said, to a slave woman, and he is a slave. The Indian held his hands high above his head and said, but while man lie, he no good, him no slave, no Niger, no, bad white man steal him, his skin is red; this was repeated in imperfect English by them all, me, I love him, the crowd were some smoking, laughing, some mocking, angry and cursing, the Indians conversed in a low tone together: here some of the crowd interfered, and separated me from my new, but dear friends, while all the time, bad white man lie, he steal him, he no Niger, him Indian boy, now and then reached my ears. I was then torn from them, my feelings towards them I cannot attempt to explain.
I now returned to Alexandria. I hear learned that the Indians often visited the village that they came here and fished and sold their fish to the inhabitants, and I determined to make their acquaintance here, and so get an invitation to their camps. As I still retained a love for the hook and line, it was just in my hand. The first Indian I met, assisted me in a friendly manner, which I returned, and was soon happy among them, for they seemed to regard me as a companion; they did not even ask for or look for other blood in me. I tasked my memory in bringing to mind words, often on my tongue though I had no recollection of their meaning. They told me it was the Choctaw tongue. I was over anxious to gain the friendship of those who spoke a little English, and as soon as I was sure of their confidence, I gave to them a history of my sorrows in part; it was might, and we were gathered around the camp fire, one of them serving as interpreter. I had scarcely began before the pipe was laid by, one saying their hearts were sorry, and they could not smoke; the elder ones bent their eyes on the ground, their features settled into an immoveable silence, their arms were folded upon their breasts; their very silence said to me, this is but another lesson in the deceitfulness of the pale face; the eyes of the younger ones were fixed upon me, and their features manifested a restlessness, and they manifested signs of revenge; they grasped their tomahawks firmly; my emotion soon prevented my proceeding; I showed them my back; that expression, eagh! eagh!! eagh!! so significant of high resolves, contempt, and indignation, dec, escaped the lips of the older, while an angry wail went forth from the young.
Their leader spoke, when all was silent; their interpreter gave me what follows: Pale face always say he friend, poor Indian get money, bad pale face get fire-water, then he friend; Indian got no money, then he got no friend, but he got hunting-ground, pale face want it, he fight a little, give little this, and little that, last poor Indian take fire-water, he then loses sense, then white man get his home, the Great Spirit gave pale face children, houses, cattle, but this no enough, he love black slave, Indian skin no white, but dark red, so he think Indian make good slave, so he try him, but he no make slave, so bad white man steal papoose, maybe he make good slave, no, no, no, bad white man, he no good, he speak with a forked tongue. While he was speaking not a motion was made, or any other sound heard, not a leaf trembled; as he ceased my ears were almost deafened with the loud yells of indignation that burst upon me as they sprang to their feet and began dancing around me. This was a scene novel to me; I had roused their feelings for me, but knew not how to quell them. It was late before we laid down in our wigwams, we rose very early, they said they could not sleep, and were sorry for their brother’s son, and their fears plainly showed me that they were ill at ease. We washed ourselves all over, thoroughly; they gathered around the fire, standing in a circle, holding their left hand up to the Great Spirit, said a few words in their own tongue deeply serious, wet the fore finger with the same hand, dipped it in the ashes, beginning at the corner of the eye drew it downwards, imitating the trickling of a tear; their leader then spoke a few words, the others imitating him, at holding up the same hand, their eyes fixed on the morning sky as their words fell from their lips, they looked upon me, as though they were reading my heart, instead of searching my features I did not know how to act, but the interpreter told me they were invoking the Great Spirit for me, and expressing sorrow for my situation. They then very gravely informed me, that I must not fish for them anymore, as I had caught more fish than they, and they were convinced that the Great Spirit had given him this as a gift to supply his wants, and he would be angry with them if they accepted of any which I could sell. To this I undertook to object, telling them I had some little money and was their visitor, and had partaken of their bread, and still they answered, we also have partaken of your fish. My interpreter here motioned me to be silent; they believed a supernatural power would uphold me, and that these difficulties were suffered to gather around the path to test my honor, that the God of the pale face, and the bad alike, had come before mc, if 1 chose the good, the Great Spirit would deliver me, I then wished to be cheerful, but as long as they let the ashes grow upon their faces I scarcely spoke, but when this was taken off, I felt at liberty, and attempted to answer them, by telling anecdotes about myself which pleased them so much that they had a great pow, pow about it, and they were in perfect ecstasies about them.
I had stolen away one morning, repaired to the spot where I had hidden my fish poles under a flat-bottomed boat, on touching the poles I heard tho cry which was like what I had always supposed to proceed from a Niger baby, and which gave me the most horrid sensations, though I had never seen one, but had often heard white people speak of the peculiarity of their cry, not doubting, I stooped down to examine more closely, it seemed in a sitting posture, leaning forward, looked young, and I felt all my former disgust return, 1 touched it with a pole, again it uttered a hideous cry; I snatched up my poles and returned to the lake, I could not but reflect that if it was human it was sensible of pain, cold and hunger. I was touched with pity, and returned, determining to serve it; but I could not reach it, it seemed frightened at me: I relinquished the idea, and went back to the lake, I passed several houses in watching, expecting to see it emerge from its concealment, on being left alone, about one o’clock, a Spaniard come to me, I told him my exploit, spoke of its cries, and endeavored to interest him in its favor, he stooped down and examined closely and said ah, this Johny Crapo and to my amazement drew forth a large Bull-frog whose head was nearly as large as my head: it still kept on crying like a Niger baby, the Spanish man killed, and dressed it, and sold it to some Frenchmen for $3; another one opposite kept hollowing chubbe, chubbe, chubbe; I am coming, I started to go to it, and on the way passed two large moccasin snakes, but they did not molest me; I killed the frog and sold it for half a dollar; while I was fishing, I made a little basket to put my fish in and when I went to put my fish in it, a large moccasin jumped at me, but I soon dispatched him; I was afterwards attacked by two of their snake ships who had stretched themselves on a log that had fallen across a small river; they were after my fish, I killed one and the other escaped from me, this restored cheerfulness, and the leader drew a moral from this, saying, my enemies took me for a Niger baby, but it will all come out like the frog story. The Spanish man told the joke, and my enemies often tormented me with it. I then would sit by the side of the lake and watch the 20 frogs, I then imitated them in a coarse base voice, the head one answered knee deep, and another one call out, fried bacon, more rum, another, snatch him, the head frog called out, toleration, his mate hollowed flam him, and another crawled along on a log crying, caty dit, they were so delighted that they entered heartily into the feast and dance.
I then returned to Alexandria, where I made many friends, French, Spanish, and one English family especially, who made me acquainted with a gentleman who was very wealthy, who resided in Mississippi; claimed me as his cousin, he was related to the family who became so friendly to me. Mrs. Kitchen, was a sister of this gentleman, which would have made us relatives. Captain Brown, was going up to Natchitoches in a keel boat, he engaged me to accompany him, after having proceeded some miles up the river, I being on deck, surveying the scenery as we passed, having a pair of high heel shoes on made me very clumsy, and 1 fell overboard; the current was swift here and carried me down, as I was not an expert swimmer, I struggled and did not exert myself; a young man saw me sinking and dove in and rescued me from drowning; I came up out of the water, farther down the river than he had expected; he by using all his exertions saved me as I was sinking the third time; I had not until this moment had any acquaintance with either the young man, or his father, but a brotherly feeling sprang up between us, we made our trip and returned together, his father living opposite Alexandria. I went home with him, the young man proposed that I should assist him at the ferry, I worked with them three months; my Indian friends often visited me, and informed me that many of the Choctaws living in Mississippi advised me to visit them.
Return to Natchez
About this time a gentleman living in Natchez landed here; recognized me, coaxed me to return with him, saying I had many friends in Natchez who were anxious about me, and which had been much concerned about my absence. I found that to visit the Indian country I must return by the way of Natchez; he promised that my unnatural mother should have no control over me; he said I should go to a trade and be used well, and I told him that I must make one more expedition; I left Alexandria, many friends followed me to the boat, sending their best wishes; I returned to Natchez, having been absent nine months; my friends greeted me with smiles, complimenting me with my improvement; I had not only become more bulky, but much taller, and my spirits were much improved.
My Sufferings in Connection with Learning the Blacksmith Trade
I had offers on every hand for employment; a Mr. McCafry, who had ever been my friend, proposed that I should finish the blacksmithing with him, here I was treated as a member of his family, I worked very hard for some months, when I had a violent attack of the billions fever, the only sickness I ever had in my life; I was almost unconscious, and suffered much for three weeks, I recovered slowly and lingered for some time under the effects, and the physicians advised me to travel for my recovery; I had some money and insisted on the Doctor taking some, and left for a while, starting for Brandon, and my money giving out, threw me again upon my own resources. One night being tired I stopped at a little cottage where the people treated me very kindly, and gave me a poor old horse which they had turned out upon the commons, I rode him on the level road and walked up and down the hills, by this means I was enabled to reach Brandon springs where I soon made friends, and spent the fall and winter. I had sometimes visited ball rooms and acted as a prompter, my voice being strong and distinct. I was employed as a prompter-in the spring I returned to my old employer Mr. McCafry (McCaffrey) and finished my trade.
Many hours I occupied my mind in beating the time of some favorite tune with my sledge hammer. I seemed to work faster, and then it soothed the care of my mind, serving to drive away angry and sorrowful thoughts. Soon after I returned, I was chosen to play for the Natches Cadets, add they elected me Fife Major, gave me my uniform, and on the fourth of July, 1830 or ’31, (if I mistake not,) my feelings were of mingled gratitude and pride, for as we marched through the street I saw mortified countenances on every hand. I received many congratulations from friends and the highest hopes of the future took possession of my mind. I became a great favorite, loved on one hand as strongly as I was hated and oppressed on the other. My boss soon noticed the manner I executed music with my hammer; it was commented upon by the workmen, and by customers, and I got a dime a tune, many times even fifty cents, keeping at my work, throwing in now and then some imitations. Many horse shoes I made in this manner, and from my presents I managed to keep an extra suit of fashionable clothes, preferring white linen for summer, as it suited the redness of my skin. And when the shop was not crowded, I had the privilege of stopping at five or six o’clock, and taking a pleasant stroll with my friends, who seemed to vie with each other to cause me by their kindness to forget the obscurity of my birth; but it seemed to haunt most of my waking hours; otherwise I should have been as happy as need be. I still continued practicing music adding the clarionet to my practice.
Late in the fall, some of the Indians I had seen at Brandywine came to see me. Mr. McCaffrey received them kindly, and told me I was free for the day. I had the in-expressible pleasure of a walk with them through the principal streets, introducing them to friends, and as they were well behaved, we were invited to visit some of the grandees, where they publicly acknowledged me. This was very gratifying, as enemies always looked blank to see me walking or talking with respectable white people, but now they had no time to look this way, seeming not to see me. We returned to Mr. McCaffrey’s, had something to eat, and retired. On rising, I was warmly greeted by my shop mates, who told me my last march was the best one I ever made, but behind my back some white men who wished to see me held as a slave, sought out the Indians, and said, ‘white no like black man; he liked Indian best, eugh!’ All silent but the Indian and white man. ‘Why you tell me this with a little hesitation.’ The white man answered ‘we see you Indians and slave boy walking together, eugh!’ ‘Again the white man proceeded; ‘may be you no know he slave. We tell you we like Indian heap, eugh!’ ‘No, is excuse, we no know he slave, maybe you no know it, maybe white man lie heap.’ They knew they alluded to me, and angrily told them they would not believe, and soon left the city.
Time moved on in this pleasant manner, without much interruption. I was steady at work, was well treated, nothing of importance occurring that I need relate until the next fall, except that I began to save my money and do extra jobs. Such mending as I could do, my boss gave me pay, and making pot hooks; when one day my heart was gladdened as the sound of bobashelah (which is friend in Choctaw) fell on my ear. There was a large party camped on the bluff, and had sent these after me. I was permitted to go after doing a job. I was very anxious to go, and when my work was done I had not only the satisfaction of going with the consent of all hands, but had their congratulations on being the cause of the approaching festivity, as they were making great preparations. They came for me at the house; I returned with them to the camp, from whence the whole company proceeded through the principal streets; I walked in front with the Chief, the oldest men followed next, the braves bringing up the rear. We walked quietly through the street, back to the camp on the bluffs; there I spent three days before they would let me go; they then conducted me home; I waited at the door until men, women, and children bid me adieu. I thought they did this to gratify themselves and please me, but I found it had great bearing in the minds of many, knowing that one Indian can tell another, and they told all who met them that this brother’s son may be big Chiefs son.
They told me to learn my trade, and then come and see my people, and learn them. My extra jobs began to increase so as to employ every moment. I had learned to make gridirons, tributes or iron stands, &c., and picked up all the scraps of iron, saved all the old horse shoes about the shop, which I began welding together, working late and early, for business in my line was increasing. I soon finished welding, and had iron enough to make a pair of shovel and tongs. My boss bought it for nails, giving me in return as much new iron, and enough over to make a pair of andirons. When I got them finished, I received $3 a piece for the three articles. My health was good, strength increasing every day. In this manner five years passed away, which released me from my trade, Mr. McCaffrey gave me a good suit of clothes, and by my own industry, and through his indulgence, I had saved $300. My friends had often told me to get papers or indentures to show I had served my trade and was released honorably. My boss was very willing; but some opposed it. I looked back on the last five years, and felt I had enjoyed a sweet calm, my sky had long been clear, a cloud seemed gathering in the distance, from which a fearful storm arose.
My First Effort at Keeping House.
A friend offered me a house on reasonable terms, which I fitted up with little expense, for my friends made me many presents in the household line; the front room was fitted for a barber shop. I hired a barber to carry it on, whose custom was quite extensive. Here I kept young bachelor’s hall, being determined that the lessons I had taken in my adversity, should now be of some use to me. I served as market boy and chamber maid.
I had marched a few times with the Natchez Fencibles while at my trade, and now appeared with the Natchez Guards. Soon after, Adams’ Light Guards. This drew my acquaintances to my house. My prosperity seemed to gall my enemies sorely, so much so that I was often abused and insulted in the street by slaves and free, even at the head of companies. This was very painful to me, and served to mar the peace I had so long enjoyed, without much interruption. Some time had elapsed since I left Mr. McCaffrey, and I had not got my indentures yet, I was much opposed. My enemies said that I could make money fast, and could afford to buy myself of the woman and thus settle the dispute. This mortified me very much; indeed my feelings I do not attempt to describe. I was waited upon for an answer to the degrading proposition. What! I, with the consciousness of possessing a good heart, a fine mind; nature having lavished on me talents of the highest order, uncultivated as they were, they were beginning to be highly approved by many. Could I stoop to this? I was exceedingly careful in my manners, and now that the boy was somewhat polished in the man, why should they persecute me still? I firmly refused them; not that I valued the money so much; not to have had them cease tormenting me I would not have begrudged twice the amount, but to have it said that I had to buy my flesh and blood and this lofty spirit! Oh! horrible thought! it stung my inmost soul, and almost maddened me into despair.
Enticement of the Colored Woman
The colored woman, of whom I have had reason to speak so often, had of late appeared to be uncommonly friendly. I felt that something was wrong. Having mentioned it to some of my friends, they argued that she had become repentant and wished to ask my forgiveness; others thought that she might probably confess and bring to light my true parentage, if I would only give her a chance; they advised me to do all I could to bring about at least a seeming reconciliation. I promised to do nothing to hinder it, but could not feel willing to even try to bring it about. Neither did I. Soon after, she dropped into my house, looked at my things, and made many comments, being in a fine humor; she invited me to come to her house; but before I had made a definite answer, she asked me, if I thought I had ever seen Sally Kelly, before I saw her I immediately recollected what Sally had said to me when I was between ten and twelve years old, though I had no recollection of seeing her, when so young, yet I led her to believe that I had. When somewhere about the age named, I met a very black woman in the street; she seemed very glad to see me, and yet big tears stood in her eyes; she asked me to shake hands with her because she was my first black mamma. One black mamma was too many, and I wished to be off, yet her words fast chained me there; she looked about the street and up to the windows; I thought to see if any person was looking at her, still holding on to my hand, said to herself, (but my ears were open) ‘yes, this son of the broad forest Chief was brought to me first; though I was then and am yet very wicked, yet I never wronged an innocent child, and his bitter lamentations for his parents, especially his father, still ring in my ears.’ I had become impatient to know all she knew of me. She ceased speaking, but gazing inquiringly into my eyes said, ‘you are young, and if you should tell they would beat me to death.’ She said if I would not tell until I was grown, she would then tell me all she knew of me; she bade me follow her down the alley and she would talk to me.
She then said, ‘Yes, child, the white man’s blood possesses no more freedom than yours, yet they have made no distinction between you and the Negro slave.’ She then said the white man who found me, and her master, were great friends; that he had been on one occasion some time from home, and on returning he brought me there and wished to see her master alone; (she was the only woman there,) so when they were alone, she slipped up and listened, for my appearance had excited her curiosity, for she had often heard them speak of stealing Indian children and making slaves of them, and she heard him say to her master, ‘Yes, I can get the shiners for him, for the old Chief is away and will search for him when he returns, and 1 can easily say I found him, and he will pay me for my trouble and a present besides, and then I shall not have to raise him or run the risk of his dying.’ And as his colored woman and himself had parted in a quarrel, it was decided that I should be told that he had bought you below, and that I must learn you to talk, as it seemed you did not know how to speak with any sense; my master then asked him if you was old Bill Chubbee’s son; he answered yes, and they laughing, swore he had made a lucky hit. I then left the key-hole and sought the child, who was afraid of me and would not speak. They soon told me some tale about you, little dreaming that I knew you was to be kept close in the house, I was not to take you out myself; you seemed very anxious to go out, and ate very little and either screamed and cried, or sat in sullen silence. I often listened to find out anything concerning you, and at length found that your father supposed you had been destroyed by wild beasts or stolen by some warlike tribe; he had vowed vengeance on whoever had the child.
Now came many consultations; be feared to take you home lest he should suffer. Year father had not thought of your being with the white men; he believed they were friends. They now began to talk of keeping you as a slave; my own conscience smote me, and I threw out my hints, thinking to frighten them, but they carelessly told me I knew too much, saying they must find the child a mother; but I was so black that I would not do. I was glad of it. The man had long promised to set his woman free; he now offered her freedom if she would say she gave birth to this child, when they moved to Natchez. ‘To this she agreed, and he set her free. We all moved to Natchez: she became known as the mother of you.’ She then turned to me and said, ‘now if you can keep this until you are a man, I will tell you more; yes, you will know it all, and be free and respected. I always knew it, and that has kept my tongue still; but I could not help telling you I was your mother first, and when you are about they are afraid I will tell it all, for I always took your part. So good bye; my heart is easier now; come and see me, and remember what I promise when you are grown, so mind your tongue.’
When alone, I endeavored to stamp her words in my brain, saying them over to myself, for fear I should forget them. I had not seen Sally for some years; as some stolen goods were found to be harbored by her, she had to leave the city unexpectedly and unknown to me, and I had heard nothing of her since. I had never named her communication with me, and now that I was thus questioned, I determined to make use of my knowledge. I accordingly accepted an invitation to come to her house, and eat and talked with her. When I told her Sally was my mother before she was, she was silent some moments, and then said, ‘Yes, but we did not think you remembered her, or being with her at least.’ But she refused to tell me where Sally was, but she told a story corroborating Sally’s, alleging she had to do as her master wished. She opened a bureau drawer and showed me a suit of fine clothes that that man left when he went away, saying he expected to return when he left, but she should keep the clothes for his son; she told me her children were his. She then said that slavery was not confined to the Negro, but that any other child the whites could steal, that was not white, was just as much a slave as the Negro; she then said she was going to tell me a little more and trust to my own good heart to do her justice.
I motioned her to proceed, and she said that a white man had got me from old Bill Chubbee, the Chief of some tribe of Mississippi Indians, and that because he was so big and fat they called him Chubbee; that he failed to come for me. Everything turned against the man; he had prepared to give her children a part of his fortune. (At this time eatables were brought in, and I drank coffee freely, while she after waiting as long as she could, added) ‘So he just gave you to them, and now we will do what is fight; you are a fine young man about 25 or 26, I think, though some say, not over 23.’ While she was speaking a painful stupor seemed to come over me: I arose to go, but she. detained me almost forcibly, saying I must hear her out; I sat down for I could scarcely stand, and I tried to rally myself, for I feared my feelings had overcome me; my head seemed ready to burst, while a dizzy sleepiness took possession of me; the old woman finished by saying. ‘You can make the children a few presents, and do something for me, and we will give you up, and thus stop this quarrel.’ I told her I would never give a farthing as a present, or pay for the freedom with which I was born. I again arose but could not walk, or scarcely stand. She told me I must not go, that I was too sleepy, I must go to bed; scarcely knowing what I did I pulled off my coat and vest and threw myself on the bed and went to sleep.
When I awoke it was to a sense of the keenest pain; I seemed smarting. Could it be I felt the lash? yes, writhing under its torture, as it was laid upon my flesh, I endeavored to rise, but I could not move. The blows seemed to fall heavy and fast, but how could this be possible? I had been too happy, I must be suffering under some dreadful disease, I thought I had the night mare. But then by this time I had gathered my scattered senses and remembered that I was in bed, and found I was on my face, the sheet wound close about my head, my hands and feet tied fast to the bedstead. I remembered where I was, and our conversation, I then knew it was no nightmare, no dream, and I struggled with all my might to unwrap my head; at length I partly succeeded, and saw light again; the blows ceased, and oh, horror! there she stood, she whose guest I was, and now her prisoner. Even to this day, when I think of or relate this disgusting scene, the same feelings return; I felt sick at heart.
She soon spoke like this: ‘Sir, I have taken this plan to show you have a master; you have refused to give me anything for yourself, just as I expected though I thought I would try you; you are so ungovernable that no one will buy you, and the people are fools enough to think that you do not belong to us, but I have got you now in my own power in spite of your fraud or cunning, and no craftiness of yours can release you. No, indeed; nothing but your word that you will buy yourself will do; I will take your word for what a slave man is worth; and now promise me quickly, and be like an Indian in keeping your word. You would hate to own you was whipped by me after you came out a fine gentleman, and if you please I will say nothing about it; if not I will beat you until you are glad to promise.’ I then said ‘are you prepared beastly woman to answer to God and man for my life? I now solemnly say, I will never promise that.’ She then saying ‘you are in my power,’ began to lay on the blows. Now that I discovered my foe had tied me and my senses had returned, the reality of my disgraceful situation was plain before me, together with the smart of the keen lash seemed to give me lion-like strength and with a few desperate leaps I succeeded in tearing the bedstead in pieces, breaking the cord that bound my feet, tearing up a pair of cloth pants for which I had just paid seventeen dollars.
With the part to which my hands were fastened I felled the old woman, leaving her to pick up herself, while I rushed to the door where I soon gnawed my right hand loose, and seeing a friend of hers coming to her from a distance, I picked up a piece of brick and leveled him. My jaws and teeth were tired, and by way of experiment I found I could saw a rope in two with two bricks. I was soon loose but almost naked and bloody; with little hesitation I walked to her door; it was locked, I picked up a stick of wood, knocked in her window, and went in, got my coat and vest: but then I had no pants. I opened the drawer and took the suit she had shown me, dared her to move while I washed and dressed in these clothes, and left the house forever.
The Officers of the United States Army kindly protected me from any insulting correction which my enemies might have undertaken to inflict upon me. I returned peaceably to my own house, and attended to my own affairs as usual. My Friends all said that I had suffered too much from her already, and that I had served her just right. But my enemies undertook to force me to bay myself; saying let me be what I might, I was given to the colored woman, and she had a right to me; and that it was impossible to sell me, for I was so well known and had so many friends who all respected me too much to buy me, and all others were afraid of me.
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