Strange True Stories of Louisiana eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Strange True Stories of Louisiana.
we need not doubt—­lost some twenty-five years before.  Directly in consequence of that loss Salome had gone into slavery and disappeared.  And now the loser of that suit was here to maintain that slavery over a woman who, even if she should turn out not to be the lost child, was enough like to be mistaken for her.  True, causes must have attorneys, and such things may happen to any lawyer; but here was a cause which in our lights to-day, at least, had on the defendant’s side no moral right to come into court.

One other person, and only one, need we mention.  Many a New York City lawyer will recall in his reminiscences of thirty years ago a small, handsome, gold-spectacled man with brown hair and eyes, noted for scholarship and literary culture; a brilliant pleader at the bar, and author of two books that became authorities, one on trade-marks, the other on prize law.  Even some who do not recollect him by this description may recall how the gifted Frank Upton—­for it is of him I write—­was one day in 1863 or 1864 struck down by apoplexy while pleading in the well-known Peterhoff case.  Or they may remember subsequently his constant, pathetic effort to maintain his old courtly mien against his resultant paralysis.  This was the young man of about thirty, of uncommon masculine beauty and refinement, who sat beside Christian Roselius as an associate in the cause of Sally Miller versus Louis Belmonti.

FOOTNOTES:  [27] Long since burned down. [28] The similarity in the surnames of Salome and her master is odd, but is accidental and without significance.

IX.

THE EVIDENCE.

We need not linger over the details of the trial.  The witnesses for the prosecution were called.  First came a Creole woman, so old that she did not know her own age, but was a grown-up girl in the days of the Spanish governor-general Galvez, sixty-five years before.  She recognized in the plaintiff the same person whom she had known as a child in John F. Miller’s domestic service with the mien, eyes, and color of a white person and with a German accent.  Next came Madame Hemin, who had not known the Muellers till she met them on the Russian ship and had not seen Salome since parting from them at Amsterdam, yet who instantly identified her “when she herself came into the court-room just now.”  “Witness says,” continues the record, “she perceived the family likeness in plaintiff’s face when she came in the door.”

The next day came Eva and told her story; and others followed, whose testimony, like hers, we have anticipated.  Again and again was the plaintiff recognized, both as Salome and as the girl Mary, or Mary Bridget, who for twenty years and upward had been owned in slavery, first by John F. Miller, then by his mother, Mrs. Canby, and at length by the cabaret keeper Louis Belmonti.  If the two persons were but one, then for twenty years at least she had lived a slave within five miles, and part of the time within two, of her kindred and of freedom.

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Strange True Stories of Louisiana from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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