The Quadroons Story
And behold the tears of such as are oppressed; and on the side of their oppressors there was power. Wherefore I praised the dead that are already dead more than the living that are yet alive.ECCL. 4:1.
It was late at night, and Tom lay groaning and bleeding alone, in an old forsaken room of the gin-house, among pieces of broken machinery, piles of damaged cotton, and other rubbish which had there accumulated.
The night was damp and close, and the thick air swarmed with myriads of mosquitos, which increased the restless torture of his wounds; whilst a burning thirsta torture beyond all othersfilled up the uttermost measure of physical anguish.
O, good Lord! Do look down,give me the victory!give me the victory over all! prayed poor Tom, in his anguish.
A footstep entered the room, behind him, and the light of a lantern flashed on his eyes.
Whos there? O, for the Lords massy, please give me some water!
The woman Cassyfor it was she,set down her lantern, and, pouring water from a bottle, raised his head, and gave him drink. Another and another cup were drained, with feverish eagerness.
Drink all ye want, she said; I knew how it would be. It isnt the first time Ive been out in the night, carrying water to such as you.
Thank you, Missis, said Tom, when he had done drinking.
Dont call me Missis! Im a miserable slave, like yourself,a lower one than you can ever be! said she, bitterly; but now, said she, going to the door, and dragging in a small pallaise, over which she had spread linen cloths wet with cold water, try, my poor fellow, to roll yourself on to this.
Stiff with wounds and bruises, Tom was a long time in accomplishing this movement; but, when done, he felt a sensible relief from the cooling application to his wounds.
The woman, whom long practice with the victims of brutality had made familiar with many healing arts, went on to make many applications to Toms wounds, by means of which he was soon somewhat relieved.
Now, said the woman, when she had raised his head on a roll of damaged cotton, which served for a pillow, theres the best I can do for you.
Tom thanked her; and the woman, sitting down on the floor, drew up her knees, and embracing them with her arms, looked fixedly before her, with a bitter and painful expression of countenance. Her bonnet fell back, and long wavy streams of black hair fell around her singular and melancholy-face.
Its no use, my poor fellow! she broke out, at last, its of no use, this youve been trying to do. You were a brave fellow,you had the right on your side; but its all in vain, and out of the question, for you to struggle. You are in the devils hands;he is the strongest, and you must give up!
Give up! and, had not human weakness and physical agony whispered that, before? Tom started; for the bitter woman, with her wild eyes and melancholy voice, seemed to him an embodiment of the temptation with which he had been wrestling.
O Lord! O Lord! he groaned, how can I give up?
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