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"An excellent society—excellent, I assure you, Madame—"

"Truly, Mr. Hadger," interrupted Mrs. Swiggs, "your labors on behalf of this Tract Society will be rewarded in heaven—"

"Dear-a-me," Mr. Hadger returns, ere Mrs. Swiggs can finish her sentence, "don't mention such a thing. I assure you it is a labor of love."

"Their tracts are so carefully got up. If my poor old negro property could only read—(Mrs. Swiggs pauses.) I was going to say—if it wasn't for the law (again she pauses), we couldn't prejudice our cause by letting our negroes read them—"

"Excuse the interruption," Mr. Hadger says, "but it wouldn't, do, notwithstanding (no one can be more liberal than myself on the subject of enlightening our negro property!) the Tract Society exhibits such an unexceptionable regard to the requirements of our cherished institution."

This conversation passes between Mrs. Swiggs and Mr. Hadger, who, as he says with great urbanity of manner, just dropped in to announce joyous tidings. He has a letter from Sister Abijah Slocum, which came to hand this morning, enclosing one delicately enveloped for Sister Swiggs. "The Lord is our guide," says Mrs. Swiggs, hastily reaching out her hand and receiving the letter. "Heaven will reward her for the interest she takes in the heathen world."

"Truly, if she hath not now, she will have there a monument of gold," Mr. Hadger piously pursues, adding a sigh.

"There! there!—my neuralgy; it's all down my left side. I'm not long for this world, you see!" Mrs. Swiggs breaks out suddenly, then twitches her head and oscillates her chin. And as if some electric current had changed the train of her thoughts, she testily seizes hold of her Milton, and says: "I have got my Tom up again—yes I have, Mr. Hadger."

Mr. Hadger discovers the sudden flight her thoughts have taken: "I am sure," he interposes, "that so long as Sister Slocum remains a member of the Tract Society we may continue our patronage."

Mrs. Swiggs is pleased to remind Mr. Hadger, that although her means have been exceedingly narrowed down, she has not, for the last ten years, failed to give her mite, which she divides between the house of the "Foreign Missions," and the "Tract Society."

A nice, smooth-faced man, somewhat clerically dressed, straight and portly of person, and most unexceptionable in his morals, is Mr. Hadger. A smile of Christian resignation and brotherly love happily ornaments his countenance; and then, there is something venerable about his nicely-combed gray whiskers, his white cravat, his snowy hair, his mild brown eyes, and his pleasing voice. One is almost constrained to receive him as the ideal of virtue absolved in sackcloth and ashes. As an evidence of our generosity, we regard him an excellent Christian, whose life hath been purified with an immense traffic in human——(perhaps some good friend will crack our skull for saying it).

In truth (though we never could find a solution in the Bible for it), as the traffic in human property increased Mr. Hadger's riches, so also did it in a corresponding ratio increase his piety. There is, indeed, a singular connection existing between piety and slavery; but to analyze it properly requires the mind of a philosopher, so strange is the blending.

Brother Hadger takes a sup of ice-water, and commences reading Sister Slocum's letter, which runs thus:

"{{smallcaps|New York}}, May —, 1850.

"Dear Brother Hadger:

"Justice and Mercy is the motto of the cause we have lent our hands and hearts to promote. Only yesterday we had a gathering of kind spirits at the Mission House in Centre street, where, thank God, all was peace and love. We had, too, an anxious gathering at the 'Tract Society's rooms.' There it was not so much peace and love as could have been desired. Brother Bight seemed earnest, but said many unwise things; and Brother Scratch let out some very unwise indiscretions which you will find in the reports I send. There was some excitement, and something said about what we got from the South not being of God's chosen earnings. And there was something more let off by our indiscreet Brothers against the getting up of the tracts. But we had a majority, and voted down our indiscreet Brothers, inasmuch as it was shown to be necessary not to offend our good friends in the South. Not to give offence to a Brother is good in the sight of the Lord, and this Brother Primrose argued in a most Christian speech of four long hours or more, and which had the effect of convincing every one how necessary it was to free the tracts

of everything offensive to your cherished institution. And though we did not, Brother Hadger, break up in the continuance of that love we were wont to when you were among us, we sustained the principle that seemeth most acceptable to you—we gained the victory over our disaffected Brothers. And I am desired on behalf of the Society, to thank you for the handsome remittance, hoping you will make it known, through peace and love, to those who kindly contributed toward it. The Board of 'Foreign Missions,' as you will see by the report, also passed a vote of thanks for your favor. How grateful to think what one will do to enlighten the heathen world, and how many will receive a tract through the medium of the other.

"We are now in want of a few thousand dollars, to get the Rev. Singleton Spyke, a most excellent person, off to Antioch. Aid us with a mite, Brother Hadger, for his mission is one of God's own. The enclosed letter is an appeal to Sister Swiggs, whose yearly mites have gone far, very far, to aid us in the good but mighty work now to be done. Sister Swiggs will have her reward in heaven for these her good gifts. How thankful should she be to Him who provides all things, and thus enableth her to bestow liberally.

"And now, Brother, I must say adieu! May you continue to live in the spirit of Christian love. And may you never feel the want of these mites bestowed in the cause of the poor heathen.

{{smallcaps|Sister Abijah Slocum.}}"

"May the good be comforted!" ejaculates Mrs. Swiggs, as Mr. Hadger concludes. She has listened with absorbed attention to every word, at times bowing, and adding a word of approval. Mr. Hadger hopes something may be done in this good cause, and having interchanged sundry compliments, takes his departure, old Rebecca opening the door.

"Glad he's gone!" the old lady says to herself. "I am so anxious to hear the good tidings Sister Slocum's letter conveys." She wipes and wipes her venerable spectacles, adjusts them piquantly over her small, wicked eyes, gives her elaborate cap-border a twitch forward, frets her finger nervously over the letter, and gets herself into a general state of confritteration. "There!" she says, entirely forgetting her Milton, which has fallen on the floor, to the great satisfaction of the worthy old cat, who makes manifest his regard for it by coiling himself down beside it, "God bless her. It makes my heart leap with joy when I see her writing," she pursues, as old Rebecca stands contemplating her, with serious and sullen countenance. Having prilled and fussed over the letter, she commences reading in a half whisper:

"{{smallcaps|No. —,4th Avenue, New York}},

May —, 1850.

"Much Beloved Sister:

"I am, as you know, always overwhelmed with business; and having hoped the Lord in his goodness yet spares you to us, and gives you health and bounty wherewith to do good, must be pardoned for my brevity. The Lord prospers our missions among the heathen, and the Tract Society continues to make its labors known throughout the country. It, as you will see by the tracts I send herewith, still continues that scrupulous regard to the character of your domestic institution which has hitherto characterized it. Nothing is permitted to creep into them that in any way relates to your domestics, or that can give pain to the delicate sensibilities of your very excellent and generous people. We would do good to all without giving pain to any one. Oh! Sister, you know what a wicked world this is, and how it becomes us to labor for the good of others. But what is this world compared with the darkness of the heathen world, and those poor wretches ('Sure enough!' says Mrs. Swiggs) who eat one another, never have heard of a God, and prefer rather to worship idols of wood and stone. When I contemplate this dreadful darkness, which I do night and day, day and night, I invoke the Spirit to give me renewed strength to go forward in the good work of bringing from darkness ('Just as I feel,' thinks Mrs. Swiggs) unto light those poor benighted wretches of the heathen world. How often I have wished you could be here with us, to add life and spirit to our cause—to aid us in beating down Satan, and when we have got him down not to let him up. The heathen world never will be what it should be until Satan is bankrupt, deprived of his arts, and chained to the post of humiliation—never! ('I wish I had him where my Tom is!' Mrs. Swiggs mutters to herself.) Do come on here, Sister. We will give you an excellent reception, and make you so happy while you sojourn among us. And now, Sister, having never appealed to you in vain, we again extend our hand, hoping you will favor the several very excellent projects we now have on hand. First, we have a project—a very excellent one, on hand, for evangelizing the world; second, in consideration of what has been done in the reign of the Seven Churches—Pergamos Thyatira, Magnesia, Cassaba, Demish, and Baindir, where all is darkness, we have conceived a mission to Antioch; and third, we have been earnestly engaged in, and have spent a few thousand dollars over a project of the 'Tract Society,' which is the getting up of no less than one or two million of their excellent tracts, for the Dahomy field of missionary labor—such as the Egba mission, the Yoruba mission, and the Ijebu missions. Oh! Sister, what a field of labor is here open to us. And what a source of joy and thankfulness it should be to us that we have the means to labor in those fields of darkness. We have selected brother Singleton Spyke, a young man of great promise, for this all-important mission to Antioch. He has been for the last four years growing in grace and wisdom. No expense has been spared in everything necessary to his perfection, not even in the selection of a partner suited to his prospects and future happiness. We now want a few thousand dollars to make up the sum requisite to his mission, and pay the expenses of getting him off. Come to our assistance, dear Sister—do come! Share with us your mite in this great work of enlightening the heathen, and know that your deeds are recorded in heaven. ('Verily!' says the old lady.) And now, hoping the Giver of all good will continue to favor you with His blessing, and preserve you in that strength of intellect with which you have so often assisted us in beating down Satan, and hoping either to have the pleasure of seeing you, or hearing from you soon, I will say adieu! subscribing myself a servant in the cause of the heathen, and your sincere Sister,

"{{smallcaps|Mrs. Abijah Slocum}}.

"P.S.—Remember, dear Sister, that the amount of money expended in idol-worship—in erecting monster temples and keeping them in repair, would provide comfortable homes and missions for hundreds of our very excellent young men and women, who are now ready to buckle on the armor and enter the fight against Satan.

"A.S."

"Dear-a-me," she sighs, laying the letter upon the table, kicking the cat as she resumes her rocking, and with her right hand restoring her Milton to its accustomed place on the table. "Rebecca," she says, "will get a pillow and place it nicely at my back." Rebecca, the old slave, brings the pillow. "There, there! now, not too high, nor too low, Rebecca!" her thin, sharp voice echoes, as she works her shoulders, and permits her long fingers to wander over her cap-border. "When 'um got just so missus like, say—da he is!" mumbles the old negress in reply. "Well, well—a little that side, now—" The negress moves the pillow a little to the left. "That's too much, Rebecca—a slight touch the other way. You are so stupid, I will have to sell you, and get Jewel to take care of me. I would have done it before but for the noise of her crutch—I would, Rebecca! You never think of me—you only think of how much hominy you can eat." The old negress makes a motion to move the pillow a little to the right, when Mrs. Swiggs settles her head and shoulders into it, saying, "there!"

"Glad'um suit—fo'h true!" retorts the negress, her heavy lips and sullen face giving out the very incarnation of hatred.

"Now don't make a noise when you go out." Rebecca in reply says she is "gwine down to da kitchen to see Isaac," and toddles out of the room, gently closing the door after her.

Resignedly Mrs. Swiggs closes her eyes, moderates her rocking, and commences evolving and revolving the subject over in her mind. "I haven't much of this world's goods—no, I haven't; but I'm of a good family, and its name for hospitality must be kept up. Don't see that I can keep it up better than by helping Sister Slocum and the Tract Society out," she muses. But the exact way to effect this has not yet come clear to her mind. Times are rather hard, and, as we have said before, she is in straightened circumstances, having, for something more than ten years, had nothing but the earnings of eleven old negroes, five of whom are cripples, to keep up the dignity of the house of the Swiggs. "There's old Zeff," she says, "has took to drinking, and Flame, his wife, ain't a bit better; and neither one of them have been worth anything since I sold their two children—which I had to do, or let the dignity of the family suffer. I don't like to do it, but I must. I must send Zeff to the workhouse—have him nicely whipped, I only charge him eighteen dollars a month for himself, and yet he will drink, and won't pay over his wages. Yes!—he shall have it. The extent of the law, well laid on, will learn him a lesson. There's old Cato pays me twenty dollars a month, and Cato's seventy-four—four years older than Zeff. In truth, my negro property is all getting careless about paying wages. Old Trot runs away whenever he can get a chance; Brutus has forever got something the matter with him; and Cicero has come to be a real skulk. He don't care for the cowhide; the more I get him flogged the worse he gets. Curious creature! And his old woman, since she broke her leg, and goes with a crutch, thinks she can do just as she pleases. There is plenty of work in her—plenty; she has no disposition to let it come out, though! And she has kept up a grumbling ever since I sold her girls. Well, I didn't want to keep them all the time at the whipping-post; so I sold them to save their characters." Thus Mrs. Swiggs muses until she drops into a profound sleep, in which she remains, dreaming that she has sold old Mumma Molly, Cicero's wife, and with the proceeds finds herself in New York, hob-nobbing it with Sister Slocum, and making one extensive donation to the Tract Society, and another to the fund for getting Brother Singleton Spyke off to Antioch. Her arrival in Gotham, she dreams, is a great event. The Tract Society (she is its guest) is smothering her with its attentions. Indeed, a whole column and a half of the very conservative and highly respectable old Observer is taken up with an elaborate and well-written history of her many virtues.

The venerable old lady dreams herself into dusky evening, and wakes to find old Rebecca summoning her to tea. She is exceedingly sorry the old slave disturbed her. However, having great faith in dreams, and the one she has just enjoyed bringing the way to aid Sister Slocum in carrying out her projects of love so clear to her mind, she is resolved to lose no time in carrying out its principles. Selling old Molly won't be much; old Molly is not worth much to her; and the price of old Molly (she'll bring something!) will do so much to enlighten the heathen, and aid the Tract Society in giving out its excellent works. "And I have for years longed to see Sister Slocum, face to face, before I die," she says. And with an affixed determination to carry out this pious resolve, Mrs. Swiggs sips her tea, and retires to her dingy little chamber for the night.

A bright and cheerful sun ushers in the following morning. The soft rays steal in at the snuffy door, at the dilapidated windows, through the faded curtains, and into the "best parlor," where, at an early hour, sits the antique old lady, rummaging over some musty old papers piled on the centre-table. The pale light plays over and gives to her features a spectre-like hue; while the grotesque pieces of furniture by which she is surrounded lend their aid in making complete the picture of a wizard's abode. The paper she wants is nowhere to be found. "I must exercise a little judgment in this affair," she mutters, folding a bit of paper, and seizing her pen. Having written—

"To the Master of the Work-house:

"I am sorry I have to trouble you so often with old Cicero. He will not pay wages all I can do. Give him at least thirty—well laid on. I go to New York in a few days, and what is due you from me for punishments will be paid any time you send your bill.

{{smallcaps|Sarah Pringle Hughes Swiggs}}."

"Well! he deserves what he gets," she shakes her head and ejaculates. Having summoned Rebecca, Master Cicero, a hard-featured old negro, is ordered up, and comes tottering into the room, half-bent with age, his hair silvered, and his face covered with a mossy-white beard—the picture of a patriarch carved in ebony. "Good mornin', Missus," he speaks in a feeble and husky voice, standing hesitatingly before his august owner. "You are—well, I might as well say it—you're a miserable old wretch!" Cicero makes a nervous motion with his left hand, as the fingers of his right wander over the bald crown of his head, and his eyes give out a forlorn look. She has no pity for the poor old man—none. "You are, Cicero—you needn't pretend you ain't," she pursues; and springing to her feet with an incredible nimbleness, she advances to the window, tucks up the old curtain, and says, "There; let the light reflect on your face. Badness looks out of it, Cicero! you never was a good nigger—"

"Per'aps not, Missus; but den I'se old."

"Old! you ain't so old but you can pay wages," the testy old woman interrupts, tossing her head. "You're a capital hand at cunning excuses. This will get you done for, at the workhouse." She hands him a delicately enveloped and carefully superscribed billet, and commands him to proceed forthwith to the workhouse. A tear courses slowly down his time-wrinkled face, he hesitates, would speak one word in his own defence. But the word of his owner is absolute, and in obedience to the wave of her hand he totters to the door, and disappears. His tears are only those of a slave. How useless fall the tears of him who has no voice, no power to assert his manhood! And yet, in that shrunken bosom—in that figure, bent and shattered of age, there burns a passion for liberty and hatred of the oppressor more terrible than the hand that has made him the wretch he is. That tear! how forcibly it tells the tale of his sorrowing soul; how eloquently it foretells the downfall of that injustice holding him in its fierce chains!

Cicero has been nicely got out of the way. Molly, his wife, is summoned into the presence of her mistress, to receive her awful doom. "To be frank with you, Molly, and I am always outspoken, you know, I am going to sell you. We have been long enough together, and necessity at this moment forces me to this conclusion," says our venerable lady, addressing herself to the old slave, who stands before her, leaning on her crutch, for she is one of the cripples. "You will get a pious owner, I trust; and God will be merciful to you."

The old slave of seventy years replies only with an expression of hate in her countenance, and a drooping of her heavy lip. "Now," Mrs. Swiggs pursues, "take this letter, go straight to Mr. Forcheu with it, and he will sell you. He is very kind in selling old people—very!" Molly inquires if Cicero may go. Mrs. Swiggs replies that nobody will buy two old people together.

The slave of seventy years, knowing her entreaties will be in vain, approaches her mistress with the fervency of a child, and grasping warmly her hand, stammers out: "Da—da—dah Lord bless um, Missus. Tan't many days fo'h we meet in t'oder world—good-bye."

"God bless you—good-bye, Molly. Remember what I have told you so many times—long suffering and forbearance make the true Christian. Be a Christian—seek to serve your Master faithfully; such the Scripture teacheth. Now tie your handkerchief nicely on your head, and get your clean apron on, and mind to look good-natured when Mr. Forcheu sells you." This admonition, methodically addressed to the old slave, and Mrs. Swiggs waves her hand, resumes her Milton, and settles herself back into her chair. Reader! if you have a heart in the right place it will be needless for us to dwell upon the feelings of that old slave, as she drags her infirm body to the shambles of the extremely kind vender of people.