“Dis chile don’t want no freedom,” sobbed the poor old creature at length, “she lubs to b’long to her darlin’ young missis: Uncle Joe he sing an’ jump an’ praise de Lord, ’cause freedom come, but your ole mammy don’t want no freedom; she can’t go for to leave you, Miss Elsie, her bressed darlin’ chile dat she been done take care ob ever since she born.”
“Mammy dear, you shall never leave me except of your own free will,” Elsie answered, in tender soothing tones. “Come, get up, and don’t cry any more. Why, it would come as near breaking my heart as yours, if we had to part. What could I or my babies ever do without our old mammy to look after our comfort!”
“Bress your heart, honey, you’se allus good an’ kind to your ole mammy,” Chloe said, checking her sobs and wiping away her tears, as she slowly rose to her feet; “de Lord bress you an’ keep you. Now let your mammy gib you one good hug, like when you little chile.”
“And many times since,” said Elsie, smiling sweetly into the tear-swollen eyes of her faithful old nurse, and not only submitting to, but returning the embrace.
“And faint not, heart of man! though years wane slow!
There have been those that from the deepest caves,
And cells of night and fastnesses below
The stormy dashing of the ocean waves,
Down, farther down than gold lies hid, have nurs’d
A quenchless hope, and watch’d their time and burst
On the bright day like wakeners from the grave.”
Noon of a sultry July day, 1864; the scorching sun looks down upon a pine forest; in its midst a cleared space some thirty acres in extent, surrounded by a log stockade ten feet high, the timbers set three feet deep into the ground; a star fort, with one gun at each corner of the square enclosure; on top of the stockade sentinel boxes placed twenty feet apart, reached by steps from the outside; in each of these a vigilant guard with loaded musket, constantly on the watch for the slightest pretext for shooting down some one or more of the prisoners, of whom there are from twenty-five thousand to thirty thousand.
All along the inner side of the wall, six feet from it, stretches a dead line; and any poor fellow thoughtlessly or accidentally laying a hand upon it, or allowing any part of his body to reach under or over it, will be instantly shot.
A green, slimy, sluggish stream, bringing with it all the filth of the sewers of Andersonville, a village three miles distant, flows directly across the enclosure from east to west. Formerly, the only water fit to drink came from a spring beyond the eastern wall, which flowing under it, into the enclosure, emptied itself into the other stream, a few feet within the dead line.