Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

and that when illness confined them at home, a physician was never wanting to attend them. Such indeed, is generally the feeling between the slave and a kind master : but alas! there are too many slave-holders whose cruelty makes them hated and feared by the unfortunate objects of their tyranny.

Colonel Buckingham was a widower, and had two children, a son and daughter. The son, Eugene, was, at the period of his introduction to the writer, about twenty-five years of age, tall, well-proportioned and rather good-looking. In disposition he was openhearted, frank and generous to a fault; but it must be confessed that he possessed a pretty large share of vanity, which could be seen lurking in every lineament of his countenance. Like his father, he was inclined to boasting on subjects concerning himself; and would occasionally tell of his being at a brilliant party at the Charleston Hotel, given in honor of some foreign literary character; when he was told by a gentleman, that the ladies considered him a perfect resemblance of a certain Capt. S. the handsomest man in the room. There was also a degree of haughtiness in his manners which was far from pleasing; but when he desired to please, he could be as polite and affable as any. Yet, he would never humble himself in the least degree to obtain a favor of any man, there was too much pride and independence in his character for that. On the whole, however, he was much liked by his acquaintance, and his company considered quite an acquisition.

His sister Cora was a tall, graceful girl of nineteen, her hair and eyes were blackness itself; and in the latter was an expression of dreaminess and langour that was very fascinating. She had just returned from school, and was already quite a belle, for though not beautiful, there was a lady-like softness of manner, and a sweet insinuating smile, that were to the enthusiastic Southerners, irresistable. Still, accomplished as she was, her acquirements were merely superficial; she was weak-minded and indolent in character and disposition.

Eugene Buckingham had attended college in Columbia for several years, his father being determined he should be well educated; and in this he was not disappointed, for the young man graduated with honors. Well satisfied on this point, the Coloned began to think of a wife for the son-and-heir of his possessions. On looking around him, his choice fell upon the daughter of his nearest neighbor, Frederick Jones, Esq. whose plantation joined that of the Colonel, and which was well stocked with valuable slaves. Without consulting the wishes of Eugene, his father proposed the match to Mr. Jones, who received it with great favor, and immediately recommended it to his daughter Susanna, whose pleasure at the idea was extreme. It was all she wished-all she had striven to gain for the last year. She was a large, showy girl, with rather a pretty face, but her manners were brusque and masculine. She was fond of gayety, and was scarcely ever at home; and being a fearless rider, she raced and hunted as well as any of the young men.

She often visited at Buckingham Hall, although no favorite of Cora's; and as for Eugene, he kept as much as possible out of her way.

But being informed by his father of the alliance he had formed for him, the anger of the young man was uncontrollable; he did not, indeed, disguise his antipathy and disgust of the proposal, whereat his father was so exasperated that he threatened to disinherit him if he did not obey his commands. But Eugene left his presence without any reply.

Now, Mr. Jones had no education himself; and consequently considered that his children could do without it as well as he. Therefore he would not send his daughter to school, nor his son to college; for, said he, “I would be a fool to spend five or six hundred a year on their learning, when I can leave them a slave worth that amount for every year they would be there.” So, as you may suppose, his sons and daughter grew up about as ignorant as their father.

Colonel Buckingham urged his son so often and so strenuously to pay his devoirs to Miss Jones, and her father so incessantly attempted to joke with him on the subject, that he became utterly disgusted at the idea of marriage; and inwardly vowed that he would never tie himself to any woman. Neither parents seemed to understand that Susanna was not the woman formed to excite the tender passion in a man of taste and feeling. Love is a delicate plant,

that grows spontaneously in its native soil; it cannot be forced by artificial means; and if ever transplanted, it requires skillful and tender cultivation, else it withers and dies.

Although the Colonel wished the match on account of the young lady's possessions, Eugene was too noble minded to marry for wealth alone; nothing short of mental beauty and a gifted mind could interest a soul like his.

But at last, wearied out with the persecutions of the two fathers, and the irksome presence of the daughter, who was every day at Buckingham Hall, Eugene resolved to quit his home, and pay a visit to the North, disregarding the repeated threat of his father to disinherit him. Notwithstanding the respect he bore the author of his being, and the love he had for his sister, nothing could induce him to remain where life was to him a torment. Therefore, he suddenly took his departure from Charleston, much to the astonishment and chagrin of Frederick Jones, Esq. and his “very interesting” daughter Susanna, who, however, took the disappointment to heart much less than her father, for he had set his mind on annexing the plantations.

CHAPTER II.

“Upon thy heart there is laid a spell,
“Holy and precious-oh, guard it well!"--Hemans.

Although Eugene Buckingham, when in a fit of spleen, had vowed he would never marry, he had for more than a year been in love-not with any woman he had ever seen-but with an ideal that lay cradled in his heart. The fact was, a lady of New-York had been contributing for some time to the various perio. dicals and magazines throughout the States, under the nom de plume of Corinne Sunshine, and Eugene was so facinated by her writings, that he, enthusiastic fellow! fell in love with an imaginary being, a creature of perfection, which perhaps if ever found would prove nothing more than a mere mortal, likely enough, either old or ugly. But, although this thought sometimes passed through his brain, he immediately banished it, for the romance was so delightful that he would not suffer it to be dispelled. From the character of the lady's writings, he concluded her character and dispo

« PředchozíPokračovat »