“Why, Uncle, they are human beings!”
“What did you suppose they were?” said he.
“Uncle,” said she, “these cannot be slaves. Where do you suppose the yokes are?”
“Now, Hattie,” said he, “you were not so simple as to suppose that they wore yokes, like wild cows and swine.”
“Why,” said she, “our papers are always telling about their being ‘reduced to a level with brutes,’ and every Sabbath since I was a child, it seems to me, I have heard the prayer, ‘Break every yoke!’ Last Sabbath our minister, you remember, said, ’Abraham was a slave-holder, David a murderer, and Peter lied and swore.’ Why, Uncle, these black people look like gentlemen and ladies! If slave-holders are like murderers and thieves, these cannot be their slaves!”
“Ask that elderly gentleman,” said your Uncle. He was stopping for our carriage to pass,—a portly man, with a ruffled shirt, and a rich-looking cane, the end of which he kept on the ground, holding the top of it at some distance from him.
“Please, sir, will you tell me if these are the slaves?” said Hattie.
He looked round, while he kept his arm and the top of his cane describing large arcs of a circle.
“They are our colored people, Miss,” said he, exchanging a smile with your Uncle and me.
“Well, sir,” said Hattie, more earnestly than before, “are they slaves?”
He politely nodded assent, but was apparently interested by something which caught his eye. He then took out a snuff-box, and, looking round about him while opening it, said,—
“Some of them dress too much, Miss,—too much, altogether.”
“Kid gloves of all colors,” said Hattie, soliloquizing. “Red morocco Bibles and hymn-books. What a white cloud of a turban! Part of the choir, I take it,—those, with their singing-books. Elegant spruce young fellow, isn’t he, Aunt? with the violoncello. Venerable old couple, there! over eighty, both of them. Well,” continued Hattie, “I will give up, if these are the slaves.”
“Don’t make up your mind too suddenly,” said your Uncle; “you will see other things.”
“Uncle,” said she, “what I have seen here in fifteen minutes shows me that at least one half of that which I have learned at the North about the slaves is false. Our novels and newspapers are all the time misleading us.”
“And yet,” said your Uncle, “perhaps everything they say may be true by itself; it may have happened.”
“Why, Aunt,” said she, “such a load is gone from my mind since looking upon these colored people that I feel almost well. Why, there’s a wedding!” said she. “Driver, do stop! Uncle, please let us go in.”