And yet neither this man’s “instinct” nor that of any one else, either during the whole trial or during twenty years’ previous knowledge of the plaintiff, was of the least value to determine whether this poor slave was entirely white or of mixed blood. It was more utterly worthless than her memory. For as to that she had, according to one of Miller’s own witnesses, in her childhood confessed a remembrance of having been brought “across the lake”; but whether that had been from Germany, or only from Mobile, must be shown in another way. That way was very simple, and we hold it no longer in suspense.
THE CROWNING PROOF.
“If ever our little Salome is found,” Eva Kropp had been accustomed to say, “we shall know her by two hair moles about the size of a coffee-bean, one on the inside of each thigh, about midway up from the knee. Nobody can make those, or take them away without leaving the tell-tale scars.” And lo! when Madame Karl brought Mary Bridget to Frank Schuber’s house, and Eva Schuber, who every day for weeks had bathed and dressed her godchild on the ship, took this stranger into another room apart and alone, there were the birth-marks of the lost Salome.
This incontestable evidence the friends of Salome were able to furnish, but the defense called in question the genuineness of the marks.
The verdict of science was demanded, and an order of the court issued to two noted physicians, one chosen by each side, to examine these marks and report “the nature, appearance, and cause of the same.” The kindred of Salome chose Warren Stone, probably the greatest physician and surgeon in one that New Orleans has ever known. Mr. Grymes’s client chose a Creole gentleman almost equally famed, Dr. Armand Mercier.
Dr. Stone died many years ago; Dr. Mercier, if I remember aright, in 1885. When I called upon Dr. Mercier in his office in Girod street in the summer of 1883, to appeal to his remembrance of this long-forgotten matter, I found a very noble-looking, fair old gentleman whose abundant waving hair had gone all to a white silken floss with age. He sat at his desk in persistent silence with his strong blue eyes fixed steadfastly upon me while I slowly and carefully recounted the story. Two or three times I paused inquiringly; but he faintly shook his head in the negative, a slight frown of mental effort gathering for a moment between the eyes that never left mine. But suddenly he leaned forward and drew his breath as if to speak. I ceased, and he said:
“My sister, the wife of Pierre Soule, refused to become the owner of that woman and her three children because they were so white!” He pressed me eagerly with an enlargement of his statement, and when he paused I said nothing or very little; for, sad to say, he had only made it perfectly plain that it was not the girl Mary Bridget whom he was recollecting, but another case.