Grabguy, somewhat moved at the sight, would confirm his harmlessness. “You’ll give up now, won’t you?” he enquires, and before Nicholas has time to answer, turns to the official, saying, “Yes, I know’d he would!”
The official bows his head significantly, but begs to inform Mr. Grabguy, that the negro, having violated the most sacred law of the state, is no longer under his care. He is a prisoner, and must, as the law directs, answer for the heinous crime just committed. Mr. Grabguy, if he please, may forward his demand to the state department, and by yielding all claim to his criminal property, receive its award-two hundred round dollars, or thereabouts.
“Stand back, gentlemen-stand back, I say!” commands the officer, as the crowd from the outside come pressing in, the news of the struggle having circulated through the city with lightning speed. Rumour, ever ready to spread its fears in a slave state, reported an insurrection, and many were they who armed themselves to the very teeth.
The officer, in answer to a question why he does not take the man away, says he has sent for means to secure him. He had scarcely given out the acceptable information, when an official, followed by a negro man, bearing cords over his right arm, makes his appearance. The oppressed man seems subdued, and as they make the first knot with the cord they wind about his neck, he says, sarcastically, “’Twouldn’t be much to hang a slave! Now round my hands. Now, with a half hitch, take my legs!” thus mocking, as it were, while they twist the cords about his yielding limbs. Now they draw his head to his knees, and his hands to his feet, forming a curve of his disabled body. “How I bend to your strong ropes, your strong laws, and your still stronger wills! You make good slip-nooses, and better bows of human bodies,” he says, mildly, shaking his head contemptuously. The official, with a brutal kick, reminds him that there will be no joking when he swings by the neck, which he certainly will, to the great delight of many.
“I welcome the reality,—by heaven I do, for only in heaven is there justice for me!” With these words falling from his lips, four negro men seize the body, bear it to the door: an excited crowd having assembled, place it upon a common dray, amid shouts and furious imprecations of “D—him, kill him at once!” Soon the dray rolls speedily away for the county prison, followed by the crowd, who utter a medley of yells and groans, as it disappears within the great gates, bearing its captive to a cell of torture.
Southern administration of justice.