“Jailer, what does all this mean? Do you allow men to starve in a land of plenty, and to suffer in a cell like that?” asked the Captain in a peremptory tone.
“I feel for the men, but you must enter your complaints to the sheriff-the ration of the jail is entirely in his hands.”
“But have you no voice in it, by which you can alleviate their situation?”
“Not the least! My duty is to keep every thing-every thing to rights, as far as people are committed. You will find the sheriff in his office, any time between this and two o’clock,” said the jailer. And the Captain left as suddenly as he came.
You will think I have written you an essay, instead of a letter inviting you to come and see me. Accept it for its intention, and excuse the circumstances. Your obedient servant,
The captain’s interview with Mr. Grimshaw.
The appearance of things at the jail was forlorn in the extreme. The Captain knew the integrity of Manuel, and not only believed his statement, but saw the positive proofs to confirm them. He repaired to the sheriff’s office, and inquiring for that functionary, was pointed to Mr. Grimshaw, who sat in his large chair, with his feet upon the table, puffing the fumes of a very fine-flavored Havana, as unconcerned as if he was lord in sovereignty over every thing about the city. “I am captain of the Janson, and have called to inquire about my steward?” said the Captain.
“Ah! yes,—you have a nigger fellow in jail. Oh! by-the-by, that’s the one there was so much fuss about, isn’t it?” said Mr. Grimshaw, looking up.
“It is an imperative duty on me to seek the comfort of my officers and crew,” said the Captain. “I received a note from my steward, this morning,—here it is, (handing him the note,) you can read it. He requested me to call upon him at the jail, where I lost no time in going, and found what he stated there to be too true. How is it! From the great liberality of tone which everywhere met my ears when I first arrived, I was led to believe that he would be made comfortable; and that the mere confinement was the only feature of the law that was a grievance. Now I find that to be the only tolerable part of it. When a man has committed no crime, and is imprisoned to satisfy a caprice of public feeling, it should be accompanied with the most favoring attendants. To couple it with the most disgraceful abuses, as are shown here, makes it exceedingly repugnant. If we pay for confining these men, and for their living while they are confined, in God’s name let us get what we pay for!”
The reader will observe that Mr. Grimshaw was a man of coarse manners and vulgar mind, with all their traces preserved on the outer man. He looked up at the Captain with a presumptuous frown, and then said, “Why, Mr. Captain, how you talk! But that kind o’ talk won’t do here in South Carolina. That nigger o’ yourn gives us a mighty site of trouble, Captain. He doesn’t seem to understand that he must be contented in jail, and live as the other prisoners do. He gets what the law requires, and if he gives us any further trouble, we shall lock him up in the third story.”