Without a word Mr. Livingstone complied with his mother’s request, saying, as he handed her the paper, “It’s not so much the fault of the south as of the north that every black under heaven is not free.”
Grandma looked aghast. Her son, born, brought up, and baptized in a purely orthodox atmosphere, to hold such treasonable opinions in opposition to everything he’d ever been taught in good old Massachusetts! She was greatly shocked, but thinking she could not do the subject justice, she said, “Wall, wall, it’s of no use for you and I to arger the pint, for I don’t know nothin’ what I want to say, but if Nancy Scovandyke was here, she’d convince you quick, for she’s good larnin’ as any of the gals nowadays.”
So saying, she walked away to Polly’s cabin. The old negress was better to-day, and attired in the warm double-gown which Mabel had purchased and ’Lena had made, she sat up in a large, comfortable rocking-chair which John Jr. had given her at the commencement of her illness, saying it was “his Christmas gift in advance.” Going straight up to her, grandma laid the paper in her lap, bidding her “read it and thank the Lord.”
“Bless missus’ dear old heart,” said Aunt Polly, “I can’t read a word.”
“Sure enough,” answered Mrs. Nichols, and taking up the paper she read it through, managing to make the old creature comprehend its meaning.
“Praise the Lord! praise Master John, and all the other apostles!” exclaimed Aunt Polly, clasping together her black, wrinkled hands, while tears of joy coursed their way down her cheeks. “The breath of liberty is sweet—sweet as sugar,” she continued, drawing long inspirations as if to make up for lost time.
Mrs. Nichols looked on, silently thanking God for having made her an humble instrument in contributing so much to another’s happiness.
“Set down,” said Aunt Polly, motioning toward a wooden bottomed chair; “set down, and let’s us talk over this great meracle, which I’ve prayed and rastled for mighty nigh a hundred times, without havin’ an atom of faith that ’twould ever be.”
So Mrs. Nichols sat down, and for nearly an hour the old ladies talked, the one of her newly-found freedom, and the other of her happiness in knowing that “‘twasn’t for nothin’ she was turned out of her old home and brought away over land and sea to Kentucky.”
Thursday morning came, bright, sunshiny and beautiful, and at about ten o’clock ’Lena, dressed and ready for her ride, came down to the parlor, where she found John Jr. listlessly leaning upon the table with his elbows, and drumming with his fingers.
“Come, cousin,” said she, “why are you not ready?”
“Ready for what?” he answered, without raising his head.
“Why, ready for our visit,” replied Lena, at the same time advancing nearer, to see what ailed him.