“Nowhere, but into our graves,” said Cassy.
“Did you ever try?”
“I’ve seen enough of trying and what comes of it,” said Cassy.
“I’d be willing to live in the swamps,
and gnaw the bark from trees.
I an’t afraid of snakes! I’d rather have one near me than him,” said
“There have been a good many here of your opinion,” said Cassy; “but you couldn’t stay in the swamps,—you’d be tracked by the dogs, and brought back, and then—then—”
“What would he do?” said the girl, looking, with breathless interest, into her face.
“What wouldn’t he do, you’d better ask,” said Cassy. “He’s learned his trade well, among the pirates in the West Indies. You wouldn’t sleep much, if I should tell you things I’ve seen,—things that he tells of, sometimes, for good jokes. I’ve heard screams here that I haven’t been able to get out of my head for weeks and weeks. There’s a place way out down by the quarters, where you can see a black, blasted tree, and the ground all covered with black ashes. Ask anyone what was done there, and see if they will dare to tell you.”
“O! what do you mean?”
“I won’t tell you. I hate to think of it. And I tell you, the Lord only knows what we may see tomorrow, if that poor fellow holds out as he’s begun.”
“Horrid!” said Emmeline, every drop of blood receding from her cheeks. “O, Cassy, do tell me what I shall do!”
“What I’ve done. Do the best you can,—do what you must,—and make it up in hating and cursing.”
“He wanted to make me drink some of his hateful brandy,” said Emmeline; “and I hate it so—”
“You’d better drink,” said Cassy. “I hated it, too; and now I can’t live without it. One must have something;—things don’t look so dreadful, when you take that.”
“Mother used to tell me never to touch any such thing,” said Emmeline.
“Mother told you!” said Cassy, with a thrilling and bitter emphasis on the word mother. “What use is it for mothers to say anything? You are all to be bought and paid for, and your souls belong to whoever gets you. That’s the way it goes. I say, drink brandy; drink all you can, and it’ll make things come easier.”
“O, Cassy! do pity me!”
“Pity you!—don’t I? Haven’t I a daughter,—Lord knows where she is, and whose she is, now,—going the way her mother went, before her, I suppose, and that her children must go, after her! There’s no end to the curse—forever!”
“I wish I’d never been born!” said Emmeline, wringing her hands.
“That’s an old wish with me,” said Cassy. “I’ve got used to wishing that. I’d die, if I dared to,” she said, looking out into the darkness, with that still, fixed despair which was the habitual expression of her face when at rest.
“It would be wicked to kill one’s self,” said Emmeline.
“I don’t know why,—no wickeder than things we live and do, day after day. But the sisters told me things, when I was in the convent, that make me afraid to die. If it would only be the end of us, why, then—”