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moment Adele was entering it at the other end. The master was smoking and drinking his sangarees in the middle room, and hearing Adele's voice, raised himself in his chair and saw, what certainly was nothing sinful in an affianced pair, but which was gall and wormwood to a jealous rival—Louis takiny, not stealing, for it was freely given, a kiss from the lips of the gentle Adele.
Knowing all he did of their attachment and proposed marriage, this sight should not have excited the feelings of the master in the manner it did—had he been left alone five minutes, the ebullition would in all probability have subsided, but unluckily for himself as well as others, the moment Louis saw Dupres, unconscious of having done any thing unworthy an accepted and acknowledged lover, he stepped forward, and stood before his master prepared to prefer his petition.
He did so, and in a few words explained the object of his visit, and the wish of his brethren.
No sooner were the words out of his mouth, than Dupres, dashing down the glass which he held in his hand, with a force that shivered it into a thousand pieces, exclaimed,
“Scoundrel !--slave !—haven't I warned you of thus thrusting yourself into my presence with petitions and messages from your fellows-why are you sent ? because they think I favour you-because you, let your faults be what they may, are never punished-get out of my sight-I hate to look at you-to-morrow, at daylight, you shall be punished—yes, sir, punished,” repeated he, seeing that Louis started back with surprise and horror at the thought. “Flogged, that's the word, sir, for your insolence, which is the cause of all the insubordination on the estate."
“ Massa,” said Louis, “ pardon, massa, pardon-twenty-six years me live here me love you—me work for you-never, never have me felt the lash. No, massa, my skin smooth, smooth all over, 'xcept where my wound is, which was meant for massa.
-" Hold your tongue, sir,” said Dupres ; “I know perfectly well how to value that wound; your skin has been smooth too long--get out of my sight, I say—and mark me, if I don't do what I say to-morTOW-90
“What flog Louis, massa," said the slave; the tears running down his bronzed cheeks.
“ Yes; flog you, sir,” said Dupres, « and take your revenge, if you like it-go sir”
“God help poor Louis,” said the slave ; never did me think to see this day.” And he went ;-and while his master watched his departure, and heard his deep sobs as he passed through the verandah-he was pleased. Yes; pleased ! and pleased more than all, by the assurance that the anxious Adele must also have heard his denunciation of her beloved.
Tyrants are mostly cowards; and although Dupres, like the rest of his countrymen, possessed a full share of animal courage, when opposed to danger in the field; and although his course of proceeding since the assassin's weapon had been levelled at his breast, gave ample evidence that he was not to be intimidated into a change of conduct; still, when the ardour of his passion cooled, and his lip ceased to quiver with the rage which the intrusion of Louis had excited, he felt some compunctious visitations, caused by the violence of his manner, and the severity of bis
language. There might-we hope there was something like remorse mingling with his other feelings, for having so spoken, and so conducted himself to the particular individual who had just quitted him; but let the sentiment have sprung whence it might, there is no doubt but that he regretted—not deeply, but violently—what he had so precipitately said and done, tempered as it might and should have been by the recollection of past days and long bygone circumstances. The main spring of this repentance was selfishness—he fancied that in his passion he had overreached himself, that his barshness to Louis, instead of debasing him in the opinion of Adele, might give him the increased claims upon her affection, of martyrdom for her sake; and that as fear and love are not usually considered compatible, the arbitrary power he had threatened to exercise, might make her hate him, instead of conducing to a contempt for her lover.
And there was more than this to be considered-Louis, however occasionally envied by his brethren, possessed unquestionable influence over them; Dupres thought he had heard the word “revenge" muttered amidst the sobs which stifled the agonized slave's voice as he departed from his presence, upon which, he had replied. Dupres cared not, as we have seen, for the “ assassin's blow," he despised clamour, and would oppose to the last, an interference with what he held to be his right; but Louis, of his class, was a powerful opponent—the recollection of M. Gallifet's slaves again fitted across his mind, and by the same perverse and perverted mode of reasoning which led him to associate his preserver with his intended murderer, he became first apprehensive, and in less than half an hour, certain that Louis would incite the slaves on the estate to revolt, and that instead of a joyful anniversary as heretofore, " The Planter's Birthday” would be a day of blood.
It had not been long before the period of which we are now speaking, that a circumstance had occurred in a neighbouring island, which flashed into the memory of Dupres, in the midst of his reflections and considerations as to the precepitancy and injudiciousness of his conduct towards Louis. A slave-woman, who belonged to proverbially the kindest master in the colony, in consequence of having been spoken to, by him harshly, resolved to have her revenge—for a considerable length of time the determination rested in her mind, but its execution was delayed only because she could not decide upon the most efficacious way of putting it into practice.
At length, having considered of every means in her power to do the benevolent man, who in one hasty moment had offended her, some serious mischief, she came to the conclusion, that nothing, except taking his life, which she feared to do, could injure him so much as destroying his slaves; and in pursuance of this scheme of revenge, she poisoned two of her own children, over whose existence, although the master's property, she fancied she had a parent's control.
This little anecdote, illustrative of a negro's revenge, certainly came to Dupres' recollection at rather an inauspicious period, and growing nervous and anxious, hc rose from his seat and paced the room; looked into the verandah, half fearing, half hoping, to see Louis still lingering near. But no-he was gone-so was Adele. Dupres became more restless; nay, to do him justice, he began to repent of his rashness and violence, even upon better grounds than apprehension or self-love; but to send for Louis, to recal his violent language, or revoke his hard decree, would have been degrading to a white man, especially one who had received a polished education, and proposed to figure in the salons of Paris.
No! that was impossible; what he would do was this : when Adele came as was her wont to inquire about his supper, and what he would like and what she should do, he would tell her that he did not mean all that he said to Louis—that he was vexed at the time—that the slaves deserved no indulgence, and that Louis should not have permitted himself to be persuaded to come to him, and interrupt him in his privacy by such absurd requests—that he did not care about the celebration of his birthday—that he had no reason to rejoice in having been born, and that the anniversary brought with it no pleasant recollections nor the excitement of any hopes of future happiness.
This he thought would soothe his early playmate this he hoped would please Adele; but then—the birthday-whether celebrated gaily or not, under his sanction, would be celebrated by the slaves, who would as ever heretofore avail themselves of the privilege looked upon almost as a matter of right, of asking grace and favour, and especially in respect to the marriages of any of the young couples who were attached to each other, and were sufficiently moral to desire to be united by the rites of the church before they“ paired off;" for much as it may shock the ears of the black-loving philanthropist, true it is that the prejudice is, or at least was in those days, not universally strong in favour of any particular ceremony, by way of prelude to the establishment of a slave ménage.
Endeavour as he might to avoid and evade the gaieties which seemed to him, in his present state of mind, only so many mockeries, he could not steer clear of these established rites, and therefore he determined not to prohibit, although he resolved not to appear to countenance the festivity.
Adele came as usual to attend her master, to inquire what were his commands; but the bright eye and the light step were wanting. She had been crying, and crept rather than bounded as usual into his presence. When he saw her thus, he was at first undecided how to act; whether as he had proposed to himself to humble his haughty spirit, and admit to her his regret for the intemperance of the language, and the violence of the threat which he had fulminated against Louis, and so by soothing her sorrows, perhaps, render her less obdurate ? but no —that hope was past—he knew that they were affianced—the struggle was but short in his mind, bis love had turned to hate-he loathed her for her constancy and affection, and the sight of her thus sad and sorrowing, confirmed bim after a moment's struggle in the determination to wreak his vengeance at all hazards upon Louis in the morning. He dismissed her with a sharp answer to her gentle questions, and she stole silently from his presence to her bed to ponder with grief and anguish on the approaching events of the morrow.
The morrow came-Dupres visited different parts of the plantation spoke on business to the overseer-it may be recollected they never spoke except on business---complained of a laxity of discipline, a boldness of manner and insolence of speech on the part of some of the slaves, which he was determined to check; and having harangued upon various points in a tone of magisterial discontent, instanced Louis as one of those who appeared spoiled by good usage, and as presuming too much upon an excess of favour which had been shown him.
The overseer, who had grown old in the service, and who remembered the infant days of Louis, his association with the master, and who was well aware of his devoted attachment to him, of which, as every body knew, he had so recently given so striking a proof, did not venture to argue the point, but contented himself with the delivery of a fact.
“ Louis, sir,” said he, " is gone." “Gone whither ?” asked Dupres.
“That, sir, I cannot tell you," replied the overseer; “ he was not to be found at the morning muster, nor has he made his appearance since.”
“ He can't have marooned ?” said Dupres.
A thousand thoughts rushed into the mind of Dupres. Was he really gone? Was he dead?
“But,” added the overseer, “ there are five or six others absent this morning."
“Five or six," repeated the master.
He was convinced that the influence of Louis had been exerted to stir up a revolt against him, in consequence of the occurrences of the previous evening. All the visions of St. Domingo were again conjured up before him, and again he fancied himself a second M. Gallifet.
“ What have they gone for ?”.
“ I know of no particular reason for their going,” said the overseer, rather drily, and with a somewhat peculiarly marked emphasis on the word “particular.”
“ They must be pursued,” said Dupres, “overtaken, brought back, and punished. This must be crushed in the outset.”
“ There have been a good many of them who have run off to escape flogging," said the overseer, “but you know, sir, they have come back again.”
“ Yes,” replied Dupres, “and have escaped their just punishment through the intervention of this very Louis who has now gone off at the head of a whole gang. This case must be met with extreme severity, or discipline will be at an end."
Now it was that Dupres felt satisfied he might wreak his vengeance upon the unhappy object of his jealousy-a jealousy which raged with equal fierceness, even though his love of Adele had curdled into hate. It was not jealousy of her affection for Louis ; it was the pure envious jealousy of his success with her that actuated Dupres, and he hurried back to his house, in order to obtain the assistance of the police stationed at the Bureau de Marronage, to hunt down his runaways, while too anxious for the fulfilment of his revenge to wait patiently the result of the search, and too much agitated to remain inactive at a moment of such excitement, he hastily quitted the verandah, up and down which he had been, for the previous half-hour, pacing, and struck across the open plain, towards a small grove of tamarind-trees, in which it was no uncommon thing for idle slaves to conceal themselves, if they could, during the day, contriving, if possible, to steal back unobserved to their homes at night; for generally speaking they are of
“A truant disposition, good my lord," and Duprés resolved upon “hunting" this little tope, as it would have been called in the East Indies, in the hope of finding the deserters located there : a circumstance which, involving no organized design of any serious plot against himself and his property, but rather indicating the stolen enjoyment of a day's idleness, would have greatly relieved his mind from the apprehensions which filled it, and which, to say truth, were still strengthened by his consciousness of the influence Louis possessed over his slaves, and the unlooked for severity with which he had treated him the night before.
Dupres entered the grove-traversed it in various directions-no deserters were there. He passed through it, and began to ascend a gentle acclivity, from the top of which, he could command a considerable extent of open ground, and might espy some of his vagrant serfs, about whose intentions and destinations he was more especially uneasy, as he had ascertained that the absentees were some of the best men on the estate, and in no degree addicted to vagrancy for which so many of the slaves have an irresistible passion.
Mr. Barclay, in his Practical View of Slavery, says (p. 171), “ As desertion and the punishment of it have been the subject of so much misrepresentation, and unfair inference, in England, it may not be superfluous to add a few remarks while the subject is under consideration, In some few cases, no doubt, it may be occasioned by improper treatment; but nothing can be more unwarranted than to set this down as the general cause; for the best treatment often cannot prevent it. The evil bas its foundation in the improvident, indolent, and wandering disposition of many of the Africans, and some few also of the creoles, which no encouragement to industry, no attention or kindness on the part of the master, can overcome.
“I,” says Mr. Barclay (who resided twenty-one years in Jamaica), “have myself the misfortune to own two Africans of this description, and cannot better illustrate my assertion than by describing them. They will do nothing whatever for themselves, and prefer an idle wandering life to any possible domestic comforts. Land in full cultivation bas been frequently given them for their support, and as long as it continued to yield plantains and edoes they gathered them; but, although allowed the same time as other people, they would never take a hoe in their hands, to clear it, and of course it was overrun with weeds. This not availing, desertion continuing, and their master being frequently called upon to pay for the thefts and depredations they had committed on other negroes, a weekly allowance of provisions was given them (in addition to their land, and their regular days) that they might not be driven by hunger to commit theft or desert. Yet all this has not reclaimed them; they will sometimes come and take their weekly allowance on Monday morning, but instead of going to work, start off to the woods, and will not be seen again for a month. Instead of giving them, like the others, their annual allowance of clothes at once, they are supplied as they stand in need; and they have been known to sell å new jacket for a quarter-dollar, that had cost their master four dollars. If a second shirt is given them it is readily bartered for a bottle of rum, and washing is entirely out of the question."
Of such as these M. Dupres was blest with his fair proportion, increased as has been already observed, since his assumption of the government, and if it had been half-a-dozen of this class who had disappeared, he would have been prepared for the event, and not altogether solicitous as to their eventual return; but that was not the case.
As he was slowly ascending the hill, pondering these things, and in,