They nursed me carefully, and I lay thinking of the “little ones sick and in prison.” Old Martha came and plead with me. I saw Liza and Maria under the lash for the crime of chastity, and myself the accomplice of their brutal masters. I pictured one of them a member of the M.E. Church, appealing to that church for redress and spurned under the “Black Gag,” and I? why I had been helping men who voted for it to build a meeting-house! What was Peter’s denial compared to mine?
The case arranged itself in my mind. I had writing materials brought, and there, with my head fast on the pillow, I wrote a hexameter rhyme half a column long, arraigning by name those Black Gag preachers, painting the scene, and holding them responsible. I signed my initials, and sent it to Mr. Fleeson, with a note telling him to give my name if it was inquired for.
Our “Spirit” did not come that week; but soon my husband came to my room with a copy of “The Pittsburg Gazette,” in which was an editorial and letter full of pious horror and denunciation of that article, and giving my name as the author; so that we knew Mr. Fleeson had published the name in full. This was my first appearance in print over my own signature, and while I was shocked, my husband was delighted, even though he knew a libel suit was threatened. I soon went to Pittsburg, saw William Elder and John A. Wills, the only anti-slavery lawyers in the city. They said the article was actionable, for it had brought those men into contempt. Elder added: “They are badly hurt, or they would not cry out so loud.”
Both tendered their gratuitous services for my defense. In a civil suit we could prove the truth of the charge, and they could get nothing, for my husband owned no property—everything belonged to his mother—and my trustees could not be held for my misdeeds. Their action would doubtless be criminal, and I would probably be imprisoned. I went home and wrote a reply to the Gazette, which it refused to publish, but it appeared in the Spirit. I reiterated, urged and intensified my charges against these false priests, until they were dumb about their injuries and libel suit, but of that original article I never could get a copy. Every one had been sold and resold, and read to rags, before I knew it was in print.
I continued to write for the “Spirit,” but still there did not seem to be anything I could do for the slave. As soon as I was able to be about the house, I fell into my old round of drudgery, but with hope and pride shut out of it. Once my burden pressed so that I could not sleep, and rose at early dawn, and sat looking over the meadow, seeing nothing but a dense, white fog. I leaned back, closed my eyes and thought how like it was to my own life. When I looked again, oh, the vision of glory which, met my sight!