“Getting up pretty well, gentlemen! You must not estimate this property upon their age: it’s the likeliness and the promise.”
“Six hundred and twenty-five!” mutters the strange gentleman they call Deacon Staggers from Pineville.
“All right,” rejoins Romescos; “just the man what ought to have ’em. I motion every other bidder withdraw in deference to the deacon’s claim,” rejoins Romescos, laughing.
The clever vender gets down from the stand, views the young property from every advantageous angle, dwells upon the bid, makes further comments on its choiceness, and after considerable bantering, knocks them down to-"What name, sir?” he enquires, staring at the stranger vacantly.
“Deacon Staggers,” replies the man, with a broad grin. Romescos motions him aside,—slips a piece of gold into his hand; it is the price of his pretensions.
The clerk enters his name in the sales book: “Deacon Staggers, of Pineville, bought May 18th, 18-.
“Two children, very likely: boy, prime child, darkish hair, round figure, intelligent face, not downcast, and well outlined in limb. Girl, very pretty, bluish eyes, flaxen hair, very fair and very delicate. Price 625 dollars. Property of Hugh Marston, and sold per order of the sheriff of the county, to satisfy two fi fas issued from the Court of Common Pleas, &c. &c. &c.”
An attendant now steps forward, takes the children into his charge, and leads them away. To where? The reader may surmise to the gaol. No, reader, not to the gaol; to Marco Graspum’s slave-pen,—to that pent-up hell where the living are tortured unto death, and where yearning souls are sold to sink!
Thus are the beauties of this our democratic system illustrated in two innocent children being consigned to the miseries of slave life because a mother is supposed a slave: a father has acknowledged them, and yet they are sold before his eyes. It is the majesty of slave law, before which good men prostrate their love of independence. Democracy says the majesty of that law must be carried out; creditors must be satisfied, even though all that is generous and noble in man should be crushed out, and the rights of free men consigned to oblivion. A stout arm may yet rise up in a good cause; democrats may stand ashamed of the inhuman traffic, and seek to cover its poisoning head with artifices and pretences; but they write only an obituary for the curse.
“A quaint-faced, good-looking country deacon has bought them. Very good; I can now go home, and relieve Mrs. Rosebrook’s very generous feelings,” says the very distinguished Mr. Seabrook, shrugging his shoulders, lighting a fresh cigar, and turning toward home with a deliberate step, full of good tidings.
The vision of death has past.