The next evening, and many more besides, were spent in discussing the proposed change. Many objections to it were stated, weighed carefully, and finally set aside. Winston was written to and consulted, and though he expressed some surprise at the proposal, gave it his decided approval. He advised, at the same time, that the estate should not be sold, but be placed in the hands of some trustworthy person, to be managed in Mr. Garie’s absence. Under the care of a first-rate overseer, it would not only yield a handsome income, but should they be dissatisfied with their Northern home, they would have the old place still in reserve; and with the knowledge that they had this to fall back upon, they could try their experiment of living in the North with their minds less harassed than they otherwise would be respecting the result.
As Mr. Garie reflected more and more on the probable beneficial results of the project, his original disinclination to it diminished, until he finally determined on running the risk; and he felt fully rewarded for this concession to his wife’s wishes when he saw her recover all her wonted serenity and sprightliness.
They were soon in all the bustle and confusion consequent on preparing for a long journey. When Mr. Garie’s determination to remove became known, great consternation prevailed on the plantation, and dismal forebodings were entertained by the slaves as to the result upon themselves.
Divers were the lamentations heard on all sides, when they were positively convinced that “massa was gwine away for true;” but they were somewhat pacified, when they learned that no one was to be sold, and that the place would not change hands. For Mr. Garie was a very kind master, and his slaves were as happy as slaves can be under any circumstances. Not much less was the surprise which the contemplated change excited in the neighbourhood, and it was commented on pretty freely by his acquaintances. One of them—to whom he had in conversation partially opened his mind, and explained that his intended removal grew out of anxiety respecting the children, and his own desire that they might be where they could enjoy the advantages of schools, &c.—sneered almost to his face at what he termed his crack-brained notions; and subsequently, in relating to another person the conversation he had had with Mr. Garie, spoke of him as “a soft-headed fool, led by the nose by a yaller wench. Why can’t he act,” he said, “like other men who happen to have half-white children—breed them up for the market, and sell them?” and he might have added, “as I do,” for he was well known to have so acted by two or three of his own tawny offspring.
Mr. Garie, at the suggestion of Winston, wrote to Mr. Walters, to procure them a small, but neat and comfortable house, in Philadelphia; which, when procured, he was to commit to the care of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis, who were to have it furnished and made ready to receive him and his family on their arrival, as Mr. Garie desired to save his wife as much as possible, from the care and anxiety attendant upon the arrangement of a new residence.