The old woman lifted her eyes to heaven; her teeth chattered; she gasped twice before she could recover utterance. “Oh, Miche Jean-Baptiste, I di’ n’ mek dat ah! Mo’ te pas fe ca! I swea’ befo’ God! Oh, no, no, no! ‘Tain’ nutt’n’ nohow but a lill play-toy, Miche. Oh, sweet Miche Jean, you not gwan to kill me? I di’ n’ mek it! It was—ef you lemme go, I tell you who mek it! Sho’s I live I tell you, Miche Jean—ef you lemme go! Sho’s God’s good to me—ef you lemme go! Oh, God A’mighty, Miche Jean, sho’s God’s good to me.”
She was becoming incoherent.
Then Capitain Jean-Baptiste Grandissime for the first time spoke at length:
“Do you see this?” he spoke the French of the Atchafalaya. He put his long flintlock pistol close to her face. “I shall take the trap off; you will walk three feet in front of me; if you make it four I blow your brains out; we shall go to Agricole. But right here, just now, before I count ten, you will tell me who sent you here; at the word ten, if I reach it, I pull the trigger. One—two—three—”
“Oh, Miche, she gwan to gib me to de devil wid houdou ef I tell you—Oh, good Lawdy!”
But he did not pause.
“Palmyre!” gasped the negress, and grovelled on the ground.
The trap was loosened from her bleeding leg, the burden placed in her arms, and they disappeared in the direction of the mansion.
* * * * *
A black shape, a boy, the lad who had carried the basil to Frowenfeld, rose up from where he had all this time lain, close against the hedge, and glided off down its black shadow to warn the philosophe.
When Clemence was searched, there was found on her person an old table-knife with its end ground to a point.
BLOOD FOR A BLOW
It seems to be one of the self-punitive characteristics of tyranny, whether the tyrant be a man, a community, or a caste, to have a pusillanimous fear of its victim. It was not when Clemence lay in irons, it is barely now, that our South is casting off a certain apprehensive tremor, generally latent, but at the slightest provocation active, and now and then violent, concerning her “blacks.” This fear, like others similar elsewhere in the world, has always been met by the same one antidote—terrific cruelty to the tyrant’s victim. So we shall presently see the Grandissime ladies, deeming themselves compassionate, urging their kinsmen to “give the poor wretch a sound whipping and let her go.” Ah! what atrocities are we unconsciously perpetrating North and South now, in the name of mercy or defence, which the advancing light of progressive thought will presently show out in their enormity?