Romescos amuses himself with sundry rude expressions about the etiquette of gentlemen,—their rights and associations,—the glorious freedom of a glorious land. Not heeding Dandy’s attention, he fills another glass copiously, twirls it upon the table, eyes Marston, and then Maxwell, playfully-drinks his beverage with the air of one quite at home.
“Marston, old feller,” he says, winking at Maxwell, “things don’t jibe so straight as they use’t-do they? I wants a stave o’ conversation on matters o’ business with ye to-morrow. It’s a smart little property arrangement; but I ain’t in the right fix just now; I can’t make the marks straight so we can understand two and two. Ye take, don’t ye? Somethin’ touching a genteel business with your fast young nephew, Lorenzo. Caution to the wise.” Romescos, making several vain attempts, rises, laughing with a half-independent air, puts his slouch hat on his head, staggers to the door, makes passes at Dandy, who waits his egress, and bidding them good night, disappears.
Who is safe against the power?
The cholera raging on Marston’s plantation, had excited Graspum’s fears. His pecuniary interests were above every other consideration-he knew no higher object than the accumulation of wealth; and to ascertain the precise nature and extent of the malady he had sent Romescos to reconnoitre.
Returning to the long-room at Graspum’s slave-pen, we must introduce the reader to scenes which take place on the night following that upon which Romescos secured the bill of sale at Marston’s mansion.
Around the table we have before described sit Graspum and some dozen of his clan. Conspicuous among them is Dan Bengal, and Nath Nimrod, whom we described as running into the room unceremoniously, holding by the hair the head of a negro, and exulting over it as a prize of much value. They are relating their adventures, speculating over the prospects of trade, comparing notes on the result of making free trash human property worth something! They all manifest the happiest of feelings, have a language of their own, converse freely; at times sprinkle their conversation with pointed oaths. They are conversant with the business affairs of every planter in the State, know his liabilities, the condition of his negroes, his hard cases, his bad cases, his runaways, and his prime property. Their dilations on the development of wenches, shades of colour, qualities of stock suited to the various markets-from Richmond to New Orleans-disclose a singular foresight into the article of poor human nature.
“There’s nothing like pushing our kind of business, specially whin ye gits it where ye can push profitably,” speaks Bengal, his fiery red eyes glaring over the table as he droops his head sluggishly, and, sipping his whiskey, lets it drip over his beard upon his bosom; “if ‘t warn’t for Anthony’s cunnin’ we’d have a pesky deal of crooked law to stumble through afore we’d get them rich uns upset.”